Shatter ‘disappointed’ at lawyer opposition to legal reform

Minister outlines reforms in way barristers may be required to operate in future

This morning, outlining a range of reforms to the way barristers may be required to operate in future, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said legal services had been developed in colonial times and the he was “disappointed” by opposition to reform from lawyers. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

This morning, outlining a range of reforms to the way barristers may be required to operate in future, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said legal services had been developed in colonial times and the he was “disappointed” by opposition to reform from lawyers. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Wed, Feb 12, 2014, 18:40

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has said he does not understand opposition from members of the Bar to working in multidisciplinary practices alongside solicitors.

This morning, outlining a range of reforms to the way barristers may be required to operate in future, Mr Shatter said legal services had been developed in colonial times and the he was “disappointed” by opposition to reform from lawyers.

The Minister said the Bar Council and barristers had raised unemployment among young lawyers as a significant problem, but said there was no reason these people could not find work in a multidisciplinary practice working with solicitors who may provide a range of legal services, from “high speed rather than high end” offices.

He said when the reforms in the Legal Services Bill are enacted, he had no doubt some barristers would continue to operate in a “niche” position from the law library, and there would be no moves to prevent them doing so.

He said some barristers would move to multidisciplinary practices, and this would benefit the general population.

He said it had been suggested that the State’s “big five” law firms creating multidisciplinary practices “would suck up” all the good lawyers. But he said this suggested there were no “good lawyers” currently operating outside the big five.