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Book reviews

15 April 13

Reviews of Tomorrow's Lawyers (Susskind); Redgrave's Health & Safety

by Rob Marrs, Gary Foggo, Steve Briggs (review editor: David J Dickson)

Tomorrow’s Lawyers: An introduction to your future

Richard Susskind

PUBLISHER: OXFORD UNIVERSITY PRESS

ISBN: 9780199668069

PRICE: £9.99

I once sat on a train between Edinburgh and Glasgow and was reading Susskind’s previous book, The End of Lawyers? Two associates from a leading commercial firm were at the table opposite and looked incredulous and appalled at my reading matter. I should have been reading Fifty Shades of Grey. Covering three areas, this book may not be so provocatively titled but it is arguably a more important a contribution.

The first section largely restates, and provides an update on, the predictions made in his previous book. Some may criticise this as “Susskind 101”, focusing on well known themes of “more for less”, liberalisation and IT. That would be unfair, as this section provides fresh examples and updates the reader on how those trends spotted years ago are developing and may progress in the future.

The next section covers the new landscape. What will the future look like for law firms? How will the role of in-house counsel change? Can online legal services help ensure access to justice? Moreover, Susskind spends time putting forward strategies. This isn’t merely theory – there is content here as well.

The final section focuses on the prospects for new lawyers. If Susskind is right, and law firms will change in due course, what sort of profession are new lawyers joining? How will they train? What will they do? Will these new legal jobs come to the fore soon? It is, in my view, vital reading for all involved in the route to qualification.

Susskind’s advice to those studying law: although times are tough, and the continuation of certain trends may make things tougher still, try to obtain work and qualify as a lawyer. To those who cannot, he offers some hope of fulfilling future careers in the legal world.

For Scottish lawyers there is a lot to take away. Can our larger firms take advantage of the “window of opportunity” he identifies, where “clients’ dissatisfaction with some of the leading global firms throws up an unprecedented opportunity to be recognised as alternatives”? Can, in the longer term, Scots lawyers benefit from the liberalising of the latent legal market by online dispute resolution? Can Scots lawyers be at the forefront of change? Can technology help promote access to justice?

As with any book predicting the future, most readers will disagree with some analysis and some predictions. I wondered how the new roles in the legal sector would be compatible with legal privilege. I thought more analysis could have been given to the rise of Hong Kong and Singapore as competitors to New York and London. I disagreed strongly with his analysis of high street firms. I thought he was overly optimistic about online dispute resolution.

To an extent, whether the reader agrees with Susskind or thinks he is right is irrelevant. It is the questions he raises, and the trends he identifies, that really matter. How we answer those questions and deal with those trends is the important part.

It is an enjoyable read. Concise, well written and thought provoking, this is Susskind’s best book yet and will become vital reading for new lawyers in particular. Many viewed his previous work as painting a doomed future. This book is filled with optimism and strategies to survive and thrive. All who are involved in the legal profession should buy it, read it, and think deeply about the questions he poses.

Rob Marrs, Education & Training, The Law Society of Scotland

 

 

Redgrave’s Health and Safety

8th edition

Jonathan Clarke, Michael Ford and Astrid Smart

PUBLISHER: LEXISNEXIS

ISBN: 9781405774253

PRICE: £220

Health and safety law can be traced back to 1802, when Westminster passed Robert Peel’s Act for the Preservation of the Health and Morals of Apprentices and others. This legislation was added to by the Factories Acts, and, in 1974, by the Health and Safety at Work Act. In practice, the primary legislation tends to be referred to more in the courts than in practical settings, and the enormous raft of secondary legislation and case law that has been built up over the years is what employers and practitioners have to grapple with on a daily basis.

At nearly 2,500 pages this edition of Redgrave is definitely a reference work as opposed to bedtime reading. Usefully, it places health and safety law in UK, Scottish and European contexts, meaning it can be relied upon to give as full a picture of the law as possible. Where Scots law differs from UK law, this is spelled out, courtesy of Scottish contributor Astrid Smart.

Although this is not a historical work, it opens with an engrossing account of the origins of health and safety law. Starting with Peel’s concern for the morals of apprentices, it moves through the industrial revolution, which was a major driver for the focus on workplace safety, and quickly reaches the post-Second World War period. If the industrial revolution drove health and safety in the 19th century, world war was the driver for the next major phase of development in the second half of the 20th century.

The 1950s saw the emergence of modern European institutions, the first of which was the six-member European Coal & Steel Community (ECSC), itself the forerunner of the European Union (EU). The ECSC, which bound West Germany, France, Italy and the Benelux countries together, has been credited with having prepared the ground for eliminating the possibility of another European war.

The UK, of course, joined the EU in 1973, just in time to become caught up in the European legal whirlwind which has changed the face of employment and health and safety law, among others. The last 30 years have seen a succession of EU directives, regulations and European Court judgments which have had a profound effect on UK workplaces.

A little ironically, given the UK’s ambivalent relationship with the EU mainstream, Westminster has been one of the most diligent national authorities in respect of enacting and enforcing European law. On the employment law front the EU has changed the face of equality by outlawing discrimination on a wide variety of grounds. But it was EU health and safety initiatives which brought in statutory minimum holidays, rest breaks, and all the related legislation and litigation on working time.

Redgrave deals comprehensively with the 1974 Health and Safety at Work Act, and the host of regulations which followed, including those dealing with the overriding requirement on employers to ensure they have adequate safety arrangements, training, accident reporting, fire safety, hazardous substances, safety signage, compulsory insurance, children and young people, work equipment safety, electrical testing, and protective equipment, among many others.

The legislation is well annotated and referenced, and refers throughout to relevant case law. It is as up to date as possible, and includes the recent legal changes which will see employers assuming responsibility for paying for interventions carried out by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE). It also deals with the latest developments on the control of asbestos.

The volume does not include the HSE Approved Codes of Practice, but these are easily sourced online as and when required. In short, this publication will be invaluable to practitioners who deal with personal injury and employment cases. It will also be a very useful reference work for hands-on health and safety specialists.

Given its specialist nature, the fact that it is the HSE’s preferred text, the extent of its coverage, and the fact that it is bang up to date, it is excellent value for money.

Gary Foggo, health and safety services manager, and Steve Briggs, operations director, Law At Work
 

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