Friday Review: The oxygen of publicity
Notable things this week:
this article in The Independent on Sunday. Seems like a good way to get people on your side. I particularly liked the part in the article where the group's founder, Matt O'Connor, tells the paper that part of their new policy is not to engage with the media at all: ""We're trying to let the actions speak for themselves," he said, before talking [to the paper] for another 20 minutes."
Meanwhile, Lucy Reed at Pink Tape has posted about a story she received regarding "An encouraging development supporting the IFLA family finance arbitration Scheme". I also received this story, from a certain family law arbitrator. Perhaps I am just a cynic, but when someone asks me to publish a 'news story' that supports their business position I get a little suspicious, the 'story' appearing to me more like an advertisement than real news. Accordingly, I chose not to publish it myself, save as a paid 'advertorial' (which offer was declined). In any event, as Lucy subsequently points out, the 'development' is nothing more than a "statement of the bleeding obvious", confirming my suspicion that it was not real news.
On Monday we had what is becoming a monthly repetition from Cafcass: an increase in both care and private law applications (are private law applications continuing to rise despite the abolition of legal aid?). Quite when it will end, and what state the family justice system will be in when it does, is anyone's guess.
On a related subject, I was interested to see this tweet from Foster & Partners on Wednesday:
Early evidence suggests huge increase in litigants in person and collapse in mediation.Predictable but unintended.#familylaw #saveukjusticeI don't know where this evidence comes from, but no longer practising myself I obviously don't have any personal experience of how things are 'at the coal face', so any information is welcome. The increase in LiPs has already been noted elsewhere, but I've not seen the collapse in mediation mentioned previously. I presume this is due to the lack of guidance and 'mellowing influence' of lawyers who, contrary to opinion in some quarters, are not always 'just in it for the money' and do encourage their clients to settle. It certainly drives a coach and horses through the government's "mediation is the panacea" policy.
— Foster & Partners (@Fostersbristol) July 10, 2013
So you want to get your firm some national publicity, but how to do it? Well, a great (although certainly not original) idea is to commission some divorce-related survey and get a national newspaper to run a story about the results. I am not, of course, saying that publicity was in the mind of the firm referred to in this story that appeared in the Daily Fail on Thursday, in which a divorce lawyer recommends that people in unhappy marriages will be better off if they get divorced. Not that that would make divorce lawyers better off...
Finally, we are told that by 2016 the majority of babies will be born out of wedlock. The answer to this impending national disaster according to our hero Tim Loughton is... [drum roll]... tax breaks for married couples!