Today we are launching our consultation about the practising certificate fee for the next year and we do this against an unprecedented background, at least in peace time, of challenge and change. At the heart of everything we do we are working to give members of the Law Society the support they need to get through this period and plan for the future.
The Law Society receives around 30% of the practising fee. The largest portion (around 70%) covers the total costs of the SRA, part of the costs of the Legal Service Board and the Legal Ombudsman, the full cost of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal, and certain levies under the Legal Services Act. Although we propose to reduce our portion by £3m, proposed increases elsewhere will result in a flat practising fee overall.
We know every penny counts and we want to be sure we only ask members for what we need to serve them and the profession effectively. Therefore, we are proposing to reduce the Law Society’s ask of the profession by 10% which means a reduction of £3m in the income to the Law Society.
The 10% reduction is part of a broader package of support. We are also reducing renewal fees on CQS and criminal litigation accreditations from June to December 2020 targeting those areas where it is clear from feedback there is most need at the moment. We are making many training courses and events free to access and we are developing new resources. In addition, we are developing a range of free virtual events on topics such as business recovery, practice management and much more to give you the resources you need to navigate the impact Covid-19 is having on you and your business. All of these will be available to support you as you respond to the challenges in the coming months.
This amounts to a package worth approximately £4m.
All of the above builds on the change programme we have been working on over the last three years. In that time we have we have focused on improving our offer to our members, modernising our systems which allowed us to serve you during the crisis, made substantial changes to the management structure, changed our governance, reduced our costs, and enhanced our engagement with members throughout England and Wales, and beyond.
We have responded to the needs of our members in light of the Covid crisis with guidance, support, advise, toolkits and much more. We have surveyed and spoken to many members from in-house to single person practices, from the high street and the countryside to the City.
There is so much more to do because we know that solicitors are fundamental to society and whilst the next two years will be tough for everyone we want to ensure we are here to support you and the profession by continually adapting and developing our response based on your views and needs.
We will consider all of the responses we receive from members and talk to members further in July.
Paul Tennant, Law Society chief executive