Friday 19 January 2018

Time to smash barriers among professional elite

Segregating lawyers and accountants did not protect us when the crisis struck, says James Fitzsimons

Justice Minister Alan Shatter
Justice Minister Alan Shatter

James Fitzsimons

Have you ever wondered what the world would be like without the professional elite such as lawyers and accountants? Alan Shatter thinks they are a necessary evil, but they need to work together. Eamon Gilmore thinks we need them, but they should be kept apart. Last week a storm blew up between the two.

Alan Shatter is engaged in one of the most radical reforms of the legal system since the formation of the State. The Legal Services Bill was published in 2011 and it provided for the establishment of multidisciplinary practices to include solicitors, barristers, accountants and other professionals, all working under the same roof. The proposed changes are all part of the EU-led initiative to cut the outrageous cost of legal services for business and the public at large.

If you want to speak to a barrister, you must first talk to a solicitor. When presented with a legal dilemma it's easy to get advice, but when there is more than one possible outcome, as in most cases, you may need to pay for a second opinion from counsel and chances are even that won't be conclusive. It goes around until the money dries up.

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