Unlike my previous Down Memory Lane posts (which you can find here and here), this one isn't exclusively about family law. Instead, I'm going to make all current practitioners envious of the way things used to be when I started out in the profession. In those days, the primary purpose of a lawyer was to simply do the job his or her client wanted them to do, rather than spending half of their time filling in forms and going through procedures. It was a time when lawyers were trusted, not just to know what they were doing, but also to use their common sense to ensure that risks to themselves, their clients and others were kept to a minimum.
Now, the simple act of starting a new matter involves a whole series of procedures and form filling - money laundering checks, risk management checks, conflict of interest checks, client care letters (how many clients read them?) etc. etc.. Only when all of these have been completed and dealt with can you turn your attention to actually doing the job the client has instructed you to do. I recall a time when you could start doing that job as soon as the client left the room.
And even if your client wanted legal aid the situation wasn't much worse. A full legal aid application form comprised only three sides of A4 - and all you had to put on the third sheet was one figure for the client's income. Now, if you are unfortunate enough to do legal aid work, a whole rain forest has to be chopped down each time an application is made.
One of the reasons I gave up legal aid work was that I preferred actually doing the job to form filling. However, now there is an ever-increasing number of forms to fill in even if you don't do legal aid work. This is especially so if your firm has Lexcel, Investors in People or some other