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People Power and the Y generation

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25 February 2015

People Power and the Y generation

Have we reached the age where power to the people means something?  In the UK almost everyone now has instant access to media stories and through social media a way to interact and put across their point of view?  And if it has, how does this change the way we are governed and dealt with in future?

The resignation of Sir Malcolm Rifkind yesterday got me thinking, would he have needed to resign 20 years ago had the same story broke?  I believe not, the papers would have run the story, we would have mumbled over our morning coffee with the expectation that his boss would do the decent thing and ask him to step down.  Some weeks later he is still in his job and we have all forgotten about it, having got on with whatever other issues we had to deal with.  Now however, sneeze in the wrong direction and you are suddenly the proud recipient of a trending Twitter hashtag or are the latest Facebook phenomenon.

Growing up, it was my impression that these decisions were for the people that we voted in to make them, good or bad.  Now everyone gets to have a say and popular opinion, good or bad, can prevail.  Take the recent furore over Ched Evans and how a massive public backlash ensured he couldn't return to being a footballer following his release from prison.  Good or bad, is this the right way to deal with this?  So how does this new people power have any relevance to a solicitors practice I hear you ask?  A great deal I would say.

Firstly it means that all staff have to be on top of their game when it comes to customer service, get it wrong and you will suddenly find yourself the talk of the town for all the wrong reasons.  Secondly from a compliance perspective, confidentiality within the profession is a fundamental right and social media means greater scrutiny and policing to ensure it remains that way.

It's a brave new world out there and the Y generation are grasping it by the horns.  The X generation need to embrace the change, welcome to people power. 

Gareth Long