Manak Solicitors has participated in the Will Aid scheme for a number of years, raising more than £13,000 for the good causes it supports. We initially decided to participate in the scheme to fulfil our corporate social responsibility aims, as promoted by the Law Society, and as part of our commitment to pro bono work generally.
We were naturally very disappointed to learn that Will Aid has decided to ‘team up’ with Co-operative Legal Services. The announcement was made in what can only be described as an advertisement for CLS, fully endorsed by Will Aid.
Some high street practitioners may recall some of the many unpalatable soundbites from CLS denigrating our profession, such as: ‘It’s a natural thing for the Co-op to put the customer at the heart of our plans. For a solicitor it’s an alien approach’ (marketing director Ian Mackie, Marketing Week, 2013).
This, of course, is at odds with the language used by the Will Aid scheme. For many years the scheme has proclaimed that those solicitors participating are ‘good’, even providing us with a halo on the certificate to confirm receipt of funds.
We can only assume that the tie-up has a financial incentive for the Will Aid scheme and those solicitors who participated in it have, up until now, simply served their purpose. On the other hand, perhaps the Co-op Group is seeking to review its own CSR duties, particularly in light of the Paul Flowers debacle.
In any event, Manak Solicitors feels Will Aid’s blatant advert for CLS is unacceptable and we will henceforth sever all ties with the scheme. We trust other high street practitioners will take the same view.
Emma Lockwood, Manak Solicitors, Orpington