He gets paid – note that I do not use the term “earned” – close to a million notes a year, yet Fat Dick Littlejohn does little more than churn out the same stream of bigotry, backed up with next to zero research, week in week out in the Daily Mail. Today’s rant, this time against lawyers, is no different.Dick uses as the sum total of his investigation a piece in Monday’s edition of his own paper, in which fellow hack Steve Doughty takes figures from the annual Law Society survey of the legal profession, and links the increased number of solicitors in recent years to legal aid, although no link is shown.
Statistics, Guv? Couldn't make 'em up
Doughty, as befits a Dacre hack, does not dwell on mere analysis, so we don’t know what the massed ranks of solicitors are working on. We are merely told to focus on that number being larger than the number of police officers. And Littlejohn falls into line, telling that the increased number of lawyers between 2000 and 2010 was “when Labour’s legislation mill was working full tilt”.
What Fat Dick doesn’t do, of course, is to put the increase into any context other than that which serves his rant. Fortunately, the Law Society figures are freely available, so we can see how solicitor numbers vary over time. In the decade highlighted by Littlejohn, their numbers rose by 43.6%, but in the decade 1990 to 2000, the rise in numbers was far higher, at 55%.
So what is driving the rise in solicitor numbers? Well, there is a hint in Fat Dick’s article, where he talks of the “trusted family solicitor who ... dabbles in a little light conveyancing”: the number of owner occupiers in England rose from 1981 to 1999 by 42.3%, as the owner occupation rate has risen from 43% in 1961 to 68% in 2008.
But, for a Daily Mail hack, linking rising solicitor numbers to the behaviour of the property market would never do. And nor would linking the 70% rise in the number of lawyers used by local Government over the past decade to anything other than supposed town hall profligacy.
Except that here, too, there is a more rational explanation: legal expertise is being bought in when required, rather than keep lawyers on full time. A little Googling brings us to the website of interim recruitment specialists Law Absolute, who tell that “Authorities are hiring high quality legal professionals on a temporary and contract basis to work on specific projects”.Facts, eh? Terrible things for the likes of Fat Dick Littlejohn – after all, they might get in the way of his latest rant which, although it starts with a quote from Shakespeare, is never going to turn into Tolstoy in the retelling.