It was bound to happen eventually,
given the huge shift in demand for conventional legal services (people just
can’t afford them), but it now looks as if lawyers masquerading as McKenzies
are trying to have a piece of what they feel is a profitable pie.
called The McKenzie Friends’ Trade
Association has just sprung up, which promises to offer a wealth of McKenzies
who all meet a set of Service Standards, written up by the organisation and in
conjunction with the current guidance issued by The President of the Family
Division and The Master of the Rolls. But scroll down
the list and open up the resumes of each on
their own dedicated website, and what you find are a group of people who are
predominantly solicitors. Their requirements for joining too, are interesting.
Currently, the Association requires all its members to have Professional
Indemnity Insurance, and a qualification, equivalent to A level or above, in
law or other relevant subject, or have 3 years experience as a McKenzie Friend.
Now, we’re not sure how the Law
Society would formally react to this (though informally one can imagine they
would be sympathetic to this development given the current climate in the legal
sector), but this creates an awkward strand to the McKenzie sector – lawyers
who are working as lay advisers for a fee.
Friends’ Trade Association has recently come to the attention of the legal
sector because it has chosen to set out a series of Service
Standards, in line with the Legal Services
Board’s recent recommendations. The Board’s April
2014 report suggested, amongst other things, that: Fee-charging McKenzie Friends should
be recognised as a legitimate feature of the evolving legal services market.
External regulation of McKenzie
Friends should not be introduced.
Fee-charging McKenzie Friends should
form a recognised trade association.
And so the lawyers got in there, and
did just that. The Association’s site though is not courting any interest at
present (its current Google Page ranking is 0), so it remains to be seen
whether they will make headway with this latest version of the McKenzie.
our experience, most trusted McKenzies with a proven track record of helping
families and being honest with their charging are the ones who are currently
inundated with work, and whilst we have nothing against lawyers offering their
services at a reasonable rate, they have tough competition.
the lawyers entering the McKenzie market can do that, not only will they be
providing an excellent service backed with years of training and skills some
lay McKenzies don’t have, but they will help to remove the stigma associated
with the practice of law as it stands. Can they pull this one off?
What do you think? Here at Jordans we are sure that many practitioners will not necessarily agree with these comments. Why not add your view to the debate? The views expressed by contributing authors are not necessarily those of Family Law or Jordan Publishing and should not be considered as legal advice.