Patrick Horan Solicitors is a law firm that defends people charged with road traffic and criminal law matters in courts across Ireland. The firm is led by Patrick Horan and focuses only on offences that are covered under the criminal law.
Patrick is a former member of An Garda Siochana having worked in that organisation for around 10 years (July 1997 to October 2007). He practices countrywide and has written about the problems, as he sees them, afflicting An Garda Siochana, particularly in it’s upper-tier management structures, which he believes are outdated by international standards and lack any objective accountability. As a result, he is frequently called upon by local and national media outlets for comment on issues affecting the Force.
In 2017 he wrote a 2000-word article for The Examiner newspaper, detailing the toll that decades of relentless cronyism and patronage had taken on the rank-and-file of the organisation and its ability to operate efficiently. In the time since this piece was published, not a single member of An Garda Siochana has taken issue with, or advanced a contrary argument against, any aspect of the article.
In the interim, successive corruption scandals, Tribunals of Inquiry and Commissions of Inquiry have cost the unsuspecting taxpayers of Ireland many tens of millions of euros, and have given him no cause to revise his low estimate of Garda Management and their role in how the Force is managed.
A New Beginning
Unlike most law firms Patrick Horan sees his business as one dedicated to delivering a service. That is crucial. Most law firms are immersed in an antiquated notion of what it means to provide legal services. They believe that as the lawyers, they “know what is best” and that the role of the client is that of a “passive observer”, rather than “active participant”. This is a cardinal error, and one which leads to arrogance and complacency and often results in the perpetuation of negative stereotypes of lawyers. It is also grounded in the underlining assumption that the client cannot possibly grasp the intricacies of the law. This outdated notion – accepted without question by many lawyers – has no basis in truth anywhere.
Law is a service, in the same way that retail, transport and the hospitality sectors are also services. These are highly competitive sectors, and the needs of consumers are paramount. If a service in these areas does not perform, consumers expect to be able to complain and often do so. This is how industry standards rise.
This notion - that the consumer is the primary focus - has not filtered down into law, which is still largely bedevilled by work practices that have not evolved greatly in 100 years. Within the legal sector it is still quite normal for clients to almost defer to lawyers. This peculiar phenomenon can be observed among the legal community right across the globe.
Patrick has always found this to be highly unusual, as the lawyer is hired by the Client, with the Client paying for the service. The Client is therefore the “employer” in this employer/employee relationship, in theory in a position to tell the lawyer what they want and when. Yet this is not the case today, where the lawyer frequently tells the Client how the case should be progressed, with the Client often meekly assenting.
Patrick sees law as a service and his advices are delivered in that fashion. He presents all the available options to his clients and from a position of being fully informed, asks the Client to tell him which approach they wish to take. If he is asked for his advice, he gives it, but the power in the dynamic rests with the Client, as they are the ones paying for the service. Restoring to the Client the status of “active participant” is one which leads to greater harmony in the working relationship.
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