The Law Society wants to hear from solicitors as we change to meet your needs.
Every year the Law Society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority consult the profession about the level of practising fees. The good news is that we are consulting on the fee being £290, a reduction of £30 from this year’s fee, which was frozen at 2014/15 levels. We are always mindful that it is your money we are spending and we continue to look for ways to be more efficient and effective in order to reduce the cost of our work.
We know from responses to our consultation last year and from our annual member survey that there is confusion between the work of the Law Society professional body and the cost of regulation, the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal and the Legal Ombudsman. As a result, this year we have added more information about the work we do as your professional body which is supported by the practising fees and underpins a legal sector worth £25.7bn annually to the economy.
Whether you are working in a high street practice, a commercial regional or City firm, an alternative business structure, or in-house for a public, private or charitable organisation, the Law Society professional body exists to support you throughout your career. Recently we have launched three initiatives to help explain the work we do to fulfil the important public interest role which we discharge on behalf of the profession and to represent, promote and support you.
First, our Member Handbook brings together the whole range of benefits of being a member of the Law Society. We know that we have not always been smart at making it easy for you to see what your practising fee buys for you. We want to make this simpler and the handbook is a step on this road. You can find it on the homepage of our website.
We also want to make relevant information which supports your practice and interests available to you more easily. Taking a few minutes to register and tell us your interests enables us to give you a tailored My Law Society homepage with the latest news, practice notes, policy and job adverts from the Law Society and Gazette. If you also confirm you are on the register, you can add more information to your Find a Solicitor profile, helping you to promote your practice to more than 170,000 visitors to the site each month. Making sure your details are up to date will help ensure clients are directed to your practice.
Since we agreed our strategy last year, we are focusing more on the outcomes of our work. Our annual review looks back at what we achieved in the last financial year as we look forward to the next one. It highlights the outcomes of what we did, from our work on court fees and closures, tribunals, case management, clinical negligence, anti-money laundering, legal aid, serious crimes, skilled worker migration and advocacy to our influencing work in Cardiff, Brussels and internationally.
It touches on our work to influence the regulatory environment, including consumer credit regulation and professional indemnity insurance, and highlights our work to promote the profession through advertising, awards and accreditations.
Finally, it covers the range of work our 300 elected and appointed board and committee members do to help us develop the best possible support services for our members, from practice notes and training to networking opportunities and events.
We want to be more transparent about the cost of discharging the profession’s public interest role and representing, promoting and supporting solicitors. We want to hear from you as we continue to change to meet your needs. I hope you will take a few minutes to give us your views (click here for the consultation document).
Catherine Dixon is chief executive of the Law Society