The consultants carrying out the joint Law Society and Ministry of Justice survey on the financial position of criminal law firms have extended the deadline for taking part by one week, to 16 October.
The Law Society said today that consultants Andrew Otterburn and Vicky Ling had ‘responded to concerns’ from practitioners that there was insufficient time for them to complete the survey.
The survey is intended to provide a solid evidence base for the ministry’s decisions on the number and size of duty solicitor legal aid contracts forming part of revised plans to cut £220m from the legal aid budget.
The Society said the survey also ‘provides firms with a very useful checklist to help them understand what these changes will mean for their businesses’.
Chief executive Desmond Hudson said: ‘It is essential to the profession’s best interests that Andrew and Vicky get as large a response rate to this survey as possible.
‘The ministry will base some of its decision-making on the information that emerges from it. It is vital that those decisions are made on the basis of an accurate view of the current state of the profession.’
Hudson (pictured) said: ‘There is also significant benefit to be gained by firms who undertake the survey, in understanding the impact of the MoJ plans on them and to inform their planning for how their firm might adapt.’
Urging firms to take part, he stressed the data will be ‘strictly confidential’, with only collated and anonymised data shared with the independent financial consultant instructed by government.
Bill Waddington, chair of the Criminal Law Solicitors’ Association, said: ‘Without this input from firms Andrew will simply not be able to reach any meaningful conclusion and there is a danger that the government will take decisions which don’t take into account the parlous state of some firms even at current fee levels.’
Director of the Legal Aid Practitioners Group Carol Storer said she had similarly urged members to respond. ‘It will give the best possible snapshot of practitioners’ financial position and what it would take for them to be able to survive on the basis of the proposed new model,’ she said.