Law firms reinventing themselves
The FT examines how law firms across Yorkshire and the North-east of England are adapting to a shrinking market and increased competition. Jonathan Blair, the managing partner of Bond Dickinson, summarises the current challenges as “consolidation, commoditisation and globalisation”. He says that clients now want greater depth from law firms, more cost-effectiveness and better geographical spread. He adds that the trend is pointing towards more legal services being provided by fewer firms, at lesser cost and better quality. The paper also profiles Brilliant Law, which was founded by Matthew Briggs, Legal 365, which was created by Ajaz Ahmed, the entrepreneur behind Freeserve, and Winn Group, which comprises Winn Solicitors, On Hire and On Medical, which deal with PI claims, credit hire and medical claims respectively. Mr Briggs admits that his firm, which was the first legal practice to be set up by non-lawyers, could well be replicated by others. “It’s been set up by businessmen for businessmen. A lot of us have had bad experiences with law firms, but there has been no choice,” he remarks. Mr Ahmed, meanwhile, believes the legal market will change substantially. He comments: “There are a lot of people who do not use lawyers because they cannot afford them. That’s the real prize.” The FT also notes that Eversheds has cut jobs in Newcastle because of reorganisation and that Walker Morris, which is based in Leeds, has appointed its first non-lawyer as a director.
Financial Times, Page: 25 Financial Times, Page: 25
Benefit cheats face ten-year jail sentence
The DPP, Keir Starmer, will announce today that benefit cheats will face increased jail terms of up to ten years under an unprecedented crackdown on those who “flout the system”. Mr Starmer will warn that for the first time the enormous economic cost of benefit fraud will be a major consideration in whether charges are pursued. He will say it is time for a “tough stance” against the perpetrators of benefit and tax credit fraud, which costs Britain almost £2bn a year. He will add: “It is a myth that ‘getting one over on the system’ is a victimless crime. The truth is that we all pay the price. I am determined to see a clampdown on those who flout the system.” The move comes after the CPS took over legal work for the Department for Work and Pensions. Prosecutors will be told to seek tougher penalties in cases with aggravating factors such as multiple offences, abuse of a position of trust or substantial loss to public funds. Professionally planned frauds will also be targeted.
The Times, Page: 1 Daily Mail, Page: 2 Daily Express, Page: 25
World Bank sanctions reach seven-year high
The World Bank has blacklisted 250 entities and individuals in the first seven months of 2013, four times the amount over the whole of 2012, and more than the total number of debarments of the previous seven years, according to a report by Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. The firm’s Jane Jenkins comments: “Multilateral development banks, led by the World Bank, have assumed a role similar to US and UK authorities that enforce the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the UK Bribery Act and similar laws against white-collar crime.”
Financial Times, Page: 19 The Times, Page: 41
G4S and Serco can bid for contracts
Chris Grayling, the Justice Secretary, is to allow G4S and Serco to bid for Ministry of Justice contracts despite both firms facing alleged fraud investigations over existing deals. However, Mr Grayling has assured his Labour counterpart, Sadiq Khan, that no new contracts will be awarded to either company until a series of official “forensic audits” have given them both a clean bill of health.
The Guardian, Page: 4 The Independent, Page: 50
Sheriff of Wall Street profiled
The Telegraph profiles Preet Bharara, the U.S. district attorney for the southern district of New York. Mr Bharara has taken down 60 insider dealers since ascending to the role. Meanwhile, his latest case pits him against the Russian mafia as he looks to investigate the case of Sergei Magnitsky, the Russian lawyer, who uncovered a $230 tax refund fraud against the Russian people in 2007.
The Daily Telegraph, Business, Page: 5
Suspects on bail commit one in seven murders
New figures from the Ministry of Justice have shown that one in seven murders in Britain is committed by suspects who have been bailed while awaiting trial for other crimes.
The Daily Telegraph, Page: 4
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