Greater Manchester lawyers could be asked to donate 0.5% of their monthly earnings towards funding services at a new law centre.
As the Gazette revealed this month, the Greater Manchester Law Centre Steering Group will open a new centre in a purpose-built building in Princess Road, Moss Side, this summer.
The steering group is considering establishing a Lawyer Fund Generation Scheme, asking solicitors to donate 0.5% of their earnings to fund services. The steering group has calculated that 0.5% would equate to £12.50 a month for a solicitor earning £30,000 a year.
Following discussions with practitioners in the area, development worker Dr Tanzil Chowdhury said the scheme would be aimed at private practice firms and not be rolled out to ‘already burdened’ practices that predominantly do legal aid work.
The scheme would also be an ‘interim’ solution to the lack of legal aid provision. ‘We do not want this, in any way, to be a plaster over a wound,’ Chowdhury said.
The steering group is seeking to raise £200,000 in its first year to keep the centre up and running. However, money generated from the scheme would directly fund services, Chowdhury said.
‘Talking to [practitioners], they do not want to fund core costs such as rent. If people want to contribute to [things like] rent, we would do that through crowd funding or monthly standing orders.’
The scheme could help to increase capacity for existing services or develop new services.
For instance, the group is currently working with the University of Salford to provide a student service dealing with appeals in relation to employment support allowance and work capability assessments.
The group will consult with practitioners over the next few weeks. Should it receive a positive response, the scheme could be set up in the autumn.