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Book reviews

19 January 15

Reviews of Law, Practice & Conduct for Solicitors (Paterson and Ritchie); A Fork in the Road (Lane-Smith)

by David J Dickson (review editor), Tom Johnston

Law, Practice & Conduct for Solicitors

Alan Paterson and Bruce Ritchie

PUBLISHER: W GREEN

ISBN: 978-0414018297

PRICE: £76

This book is a must-have for every solicitor, and a less expensive paperback edition might have that result. The authors have addressed all aspects of practice from obtaining clients through advertising to touting, whether it is appropriate for the solicitor to act, the scope, extent and nature of the client-solicitor relationship, fees, accounts rules, money laundering regulations and proceeds of crime. There are well written and considered chapters on relationships and duties to clients, third parties and the court. The final chapters address entry to the profession, and the complaints procedure.

No solicitor wishes to find themselves falling short of the high professional standards expected, and the extensive reference to decisions of the Discipline Tribunal and the Sharp case make clear what is expected and the nature of the conduct that could lead to compromise. The authors provide guidance on a wide range of behaviour including mental illness, stress, substance abuse and that workload "is not an acceptable excuse for excessive delay". The paragraph on the Crown duty of disclosure, while recognising the considerable case law, is a little brief.

A superb combination of academic research with the benefit of years of practical experience of issues that arise daily.

David J Dickson, solicitor advocate

A Fork in the Road

From Single Partner to Largest Legal Practice in the World

Roger Lane-Smith

PUBLISHER: ICON BOOKS LTD

ISBN: 978-1848317970

PRICE: £16.99

I have spent a fair bit of time working with younger lawyers. I am currently part of the Law Society of Scotland’s new trainee mentoring programme. Like most in a mentoring role, I try to encourage people to project where they want to get to. Planning a journey is always an easier task if one has an idea of one’s destination. I admire ambition: but never have I heard anyone declare, just a few years into their career, an aim “to create the best and finest law firm the world has ever seen”.

Mr Lane-Smith’s autobiography is a quite extraordinary account. His early legal years were spent in small country firms, moving, via a rock and roll band or two, into a small Manchester commercial practice. Aged 31 he took the plunge to set up on his own, ending up as senior partner of DLA Piper. That it had become by then the largest legal practice in the world is largely down to Lane-Smith’s energy and efforts.

This is his (clearly self-penned) story. Proceeds will go to UNICEF and a children’s hospice in London. The first 25 of the 33 chapters can be read avidly and enjoyably. From an early age he acquired a stellar client list, including Dave Whelan of JJB Sports, John Timpson, and the Edwards family, of Manchester United fame. Internationally known clients included David Soul, Joan Collins and Elvis Presley’s estate. More crammed into a decade than most of us in a full career.

The last quarter of the book focuses on the international expansion programme. It works less well, as it contains great lists of lawyers’ names and the early history of many of the acquired firms. A little more editing would have improved the end product. But if you want to marvel at what can be done in our profession, one which is not renowned for its entrepreneurial spirit, do not miss this breathtaking account of how to stretch the art of the possible to its limit. Bravo, sir!

Tom Johnston, Ormidale Licensing Services