Douglas Mill: Life on Mars
I have known my solicitor since 1962. Granted at the time he did not know he was my solicitor because this was in primary one at Paisley Grammar.
This is relevant for two related reasons. The first is that was just after the Cuban Missile Crisis when all the world thought it was going to die. Dylan wrote Eight Miles High etc. Now 96.7 per cent of the profession (a figure I made up but which will be not far off) were not alive then and don’t know what it was like living under the threat of mutually assured destruction. And now we may be back there. Fifteen years of banking crashes, pandemics and now this. Who would have thought?
And over the last few weeks I have been moving flat. Not great fun. Should be a practice rule saying all solicitors need to move house every 7/8 years so the know how stressful it is for the client. Even with a great solicitor, because mine is.
Like virtually every problem the profession now has been at some stage self inflicted. Legal aid, not having a professional body looking out for them and many more. And conveyancing joins that list. Remember when it used to be about the title? Then it was about missives. Then washing machines. And now laundering of an entirely different sort.
And it is I suppose a coincidence that my move (which I accept is not actually as important as the possibility of war) coincides with Russia finally being deemed financially toxic. Because their practices have been going on for years. Over a couple of decades now. On an industrial scale.
So, money laundering was originally the War Against Terrorism. Who could stand against that? And Isis trembled as no way could it come up with an electricity bill or your granny’s inside leg measurement. And then it became about the War Against Drugs. And who could stand against that? Then it was the War Against HMRC and the Police Actually Having To Do their Job Properly. And we had given up by then. And now, conveniently it is the War Against Vlad.
For the avoidance of doubt, as you real lawyers say, I am not talking about the issue of big Scots firms being involved in LLPs. That is another issue entirely.
And good boys and girls as they are the profession in Scotland duly buckled down to bureaucratic mince of a volume never seen before. A massive admin oncost few I suspect could pass on to the client. And from the clients’ perspective stupid, intrusive and almost damaging of a relationship with a trusted advisor.
And for what? Be honest, what? Did we stop organised crime in it’s tracks? did we force out of the profession hoards of evil smelling dodgy solicitors.
No, we all bit our lips and got on with it quietly aware of what a crock it was. Because we are a spineless profession cowed into silence? Mostly, I am afraid. Disproportionate farce doesn’t begin to describe it.
And now Putin and his cronies are under the microscope. And what does that show? Well that politicians have been on the take big time for a good while. No surprise. But more relevantly, that the City of London launders more in a microsecond that the whole Scottish legal profession has in a couple of decades.
These are the politicians who imposed all the money laundering mince on the profession to make it look like they were doing something when pocket lining was the name of the game. Deflection. Hypocrisy. You name it-usual story. Rule of law for you plebs not us. Do you seriously think our systems are the reason billions of dirty Russian money did not come north?
And the other relevance of 1962? My solicitor has known me for 50 years and any system which did not allow modification of regulation in such circumstances is exactly as stupid as you would expect civil servants to come up with.
So, the title? Check our the late lamented Mr Bowie and hear about the Lawman beating up the wrong guy. Because that sums it up.
And as for the virtual signalling posturing of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland passing a resolution condemning the invasion of Ukraine, what can I say? Putin is considering throwing in the towel. I do not know whether to laugh or cry.