A Bad Smell in the Legal Sector

I felt there was a really nasty niff about the way big commercial firm DWF (who acquired Crutes on Tyneside) pulled out of acquiring Cobbetts, a big Manchester/Leeds practice, preferring to let that firm go under so as to purchase the rump from the administrators than to bail it out. Cobbetts’ creditors will recover tuppence in the pound. It turns out that I wasn’t alone.

Now there was nothing unlawful in what DWF did.  ‘Pre-pack’ deals suck as far as unsecured creditors are concerned, they are intended to keep businesses going and prevent redundancies (although how sustainable such business models might be and how safe those employees feel is open to question).  And you might like the idea of using a firm that operates like this.  I mean, they’re sly, sharp, ruthless, perhaps everything you want out of your solicitor.  Unless, of course, you are one of the creditors of the Cobbetts insolvency.

If you think that the way DWF behaved is exactly what you want from a law firm acting on your behalf, relax.  It’s OK.  That’s your choice.  DWF may not be Wolfram & Hart.  Not yet, anyway.  But you will never be happy as a client of *particular.  We believe that there is something more to being a lawyer than just short term calculations in pounds and pence.  DWF’s actions have secured it a significant turnover boost at a bargain price, but the long term cost is the effect of their purchase on their values.

We believe that law is a business yes, but it’s still a profession.  Thank goodness that after all, we are not the only ones thinking this way.

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