Law Society of Scotland Coronavirus Support Package Announced

As one of the 39 elected members of the Council of the Law Society of Scotland, I participated last week in the first ever virtual meeting of the Council. Following that meeting, the Law Society announced a £2.2 million package of financial support for the solicitor profession.

Council members recognised that 90% of law firms have faced a reduced turnover as a direct result of coronavirus and that almost a quarter of solicitors in private practice have been furloughed, including over 200 trainees. Some firms are seriously concerned about their financial viability.

The principal elements of this package are a 20% reduction in the accounts fee paid by law firm partners, a one year suspension of the fee paid by partners to the Client Protection Fund and a proposed 20% reduction in the cost of solicitors’ practising certificates, which will be voted upon by solicitors at the Law Society’s first virtual Annual General Meeting on Thursday 28 May 2020.  The package as a whole amounts to a saving of up to £380 per solicitor.

As the President of the Law Society, John Mulholland, said when announcing the package, “The Law Society has an important statutory objective to ensure Scotland has a strong, independent and effective legal profession. The economic crisis emerging from the spread of coronavirus places that objective at a historic risk. “

If we are to protect that strong, independent and effective legal profession in Scotland, we all need to play an active part. Perhaps more so than in the past. I know that for some, the Law Society can seem distant, and just another costly overhead. Hopefully though a positive consequence of the response to the pandemic may be a recognition of the importance of collaboration and the benefit of being part of a united professional body that is actively working on behalf of all of us involved in the legal profession. Over the last three years, as I have served on the Council, I have had a new perspective on quite how much work is done behind the scenes for our benefit and have been hugely impressed at the collegiate approach and energy expended on our behalf.

The financial package that has been announced is a start. There is more to be done. In the short term the Law Society needs your support to continue to lobby Scottish government to exert pressure on the SLCC to introduce efficiencies to allow the levy to be reduced.  In the longer term, issues such as those raised by the Roberton report merit greater engagement.