Conference round-up: some light despite the doom & gloom

Football tackleIn the 2008/09 football season, Bournemouth were bottom of the bottom division and were 24 hours from liquidation. In the same season, Portsmouth were in the Premier League and, as FA Cup, winners were playing European football.

Currently, Bournemouth are in the Premier League and are doing very well whilst Portsmouth are in the bottom league.

A lot can change in a relatively short space of time and it’s fair to say that the SRA have done a Bournemouth in rapidly changing the quality of the processes and the perception of their image.

The SRA used to be rubbish. They were inconsistent, arguably incompetent but definitely unhelpful.

I recall a couple of years ago at our LegalVoice conference at DLA Piper, when the SRA had a prominent workshop slot, they didn’t turn up. We were given a couple of hours’ notice and no, they wouldn’t send a replacement speaker. This was embarrassing for everyone. I’m sure that this wouldn’t happen now partly because Crispin Passmore, director of policy, has promised it wouldn’t and they seem to be at pains to emphasise that engagement with the profession is a key objective for them.

At Wednesday’s SRA COLP & COFA conference, I couldn’t help thinking of the Bournemouth comparison as the SRA seem to have transformed their performance in a relatively short space of time.

The audience of several hundred were given light entertainment in one of the main sessions when Crispin Passmore, prancing around the stage – part game show host, part Steve Jobs (holding his IPad) – invited us to participate in an ethics quiz where we used electronic consoles to choose what should happen to naughty solicitors in a wide variety of different situations. He promised that we would all disagree with each other – and we did.

A couple of the other sessions I attended – the new authorisation process – and help for small firms – should have been dry and boring. But they weren’t. The authorisation workshop was full of useful tips for lodging applications and the speakers were happy to stay around afterwards to discuss scenarios and what best to do.

Similarly, last week’s LAPG conference was a great success. All of the conferences and events that Carol Storer organises always seem to go without a hiccup. As someone that arranges around one conference per year, I can attest to how stressful they are to organise but Carol always seems to nail them without any issues. Despite the doom and gloom of the Duty Solicitor tender and LASPO, you would never really have known it for the light mood that seemed to characterise the conference.

Please note that this blog was written before the announcement of the outcome of the duty solicitor tenders!


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