The news that Shoosmiths have hired as a consultant a former solicitor who was struck off for dishonesty might serve as a symbol for a wider debate within legal services, namely: do the brands of "solicitor", "barrister" or "legal executive" matter to clients anymore?

As the article indicates, Shoosmiths will have had to obtain the SRA's permission to employ Mr Veneik under Section 41 of the Solicitors Act 1974, though it is not revealed whether that permission is subject to conditions. It would therefore be inaccurate to read the story as implying any lessening of the regulatory control in the legal services market, since the SRA will certainly have taken a view on the suitability of the arrangement and any effect on public confidence in the profession.

Nonetheless, it is fascinating to see that firstly Shoosmiths clearly regard this as a positive move for their business; and secondly that it is anticipated that Mr Veneik will seek to regain his solicitor status in due course. This prompts the further question "why?". If the arrangement works for both parties and their clients now, what would solicitor status add? And what room is there for the Bolton - era view of the benefits of membership of a profession?

As legal qualification becomes increasingly irrelevant to legal practice, in my view this is a subject the legal professions ought to ponder long and hard.