When I became president of Birmingham Law Society almost 12 months ago the economy was in very different shape and, as some market commentators predicted, the conditions could deteriorate further still.
It wasn’t the best start to my presidency.
However, at the opening of the new Library of Birmingham, I met business leaders who told me that manufacturing was bucking the trend and was already out of the doldrums, with order books beginning to fill up.
The Government’s statistics indicated a contrary view but how right those industrialists were.
The Government will no doubt say its economic policies had something to do with the upturn but I will gamble the industrial and manufacturing leaders will beg to differ.
Some sectors, of course, have done better than others and the same can be said for law.
Those involved particularly in commercial work will have enjoyed recent success.
Unfortunately, those dependent on legal aid will struggle to survive.
Renowned firms may soon be forced to cease to trade, which brings me back to statistics.
The country’s economy is improving.
Lawyers did not seek an increase in legal aid; they were simply surviving and asked the Government in recessionary times to leave rates alone.
However, the Government refused to listen to their pleas.
Members of the public are already suffering from the cuts to legal aid and from March 20 will feel the effects of cuts to criminal legal aid.
Students coming into the profession are questioning whether they should specialise in criminal or civil law given uncertainty as to funding of those subjects going forward.
It is perceived that the Legal Education and Training Review will permit less qualified persons to deliver legal services.
However, this must never happen.
The public are entitled to respect their lawyers, who are expected to deliver quality services.
This is a relationship that has endured for many years and, as I step down as president of BLS, long may this relationship continue.
* Martin Allsopp is president of Birmingham Law Society