The Law Society of Scotland has today announced a £2.2 million package of financial support for the solicitor profession in response to the coronavirus.
The professional body’s governing Council has agreed that, for the 2020/21 practice year:
- the practising certificate (PC) fee for every solicitor will be reduced by 20%,
- the accounts fee paid by law firm partners will be reduced by 20%,
- the client protection fund contribution for law firm partners will be reduced to zero.
Taken together, the package saves the solicitor profession over £2.2 million. It follows a series of other changes at the Law Society, including the furloughing of 20% of its staff, a recruitment freeze and other savings for the current operating year.
Depending on a solicitor’s role and area of work, the new package announced today will deliver a saving of up to £380 this year. The proposed PC, which must be approved by solicitors, will be voted on at what is anticipated to be a virtual general meeting of the Society next month.
President of the Law Society, John Mulholland said, “The Law Society has an important statutory objective to ensure Scotland has a strong, independent and effective legal profession. The economic crisis emerging from the spread of coronavirus places that objective at a historic risk.
“We know that 90% of law firms have faced a reduced turnover as a direct result of coronavirus. Almost a quarter of solicitors in private practice have been furloughed including over 200 trainees. This is why the Law Society is responding with a significant package of financial support at this critical time. It means individual solicitors will save up to £380 compared to last year and save many law firms tens of thousands of pounds.
“I want to be clear; this has not been an easy package to agree and has required tough choices to be made. We will be cutting deep into the Society’s reserves. It will require several projects to be paused. However, given the circumstances, this is clearly the right thing to do and minimises what solicitors have to pay this year.
“We have no idea when normality will return or indeed what that will look like. However, this package underlines the Law Society’s determination to do all it can to help and support the profession weather this storm.”
The package announced includes a one-year suspension of the fee normally paid by law firm partners to the Client Protection Fund.
Mr Mulholland added, “The Client Protection Fund is a key protection for consumers and a cornerstone of our regulatory system. The fund has reserves of over £5 million. This is why the Council felt able to suspend any new payments into the fund this year. We have taken this decision knowing the fund has the resources needed to ensure clients have the same level of protection over the next 12 months. All valid claims will be paid.”