Solicitors in Local Government may be required to become a division of the Law Society if it is to retain its funding from Chancery Lane, it has emerged.
SLG has operated for eight years as an independent company limited by guarantee and is recognised by the Law Society under the Recognised Groups Agreement (RGA). It is through that agreement that the group obtains its core funding from Chancery Lane enabling it to operate.
In recent weeks the Law Society indicated to SLG that it intended to give notice under the RGA terminable at the end of 2011. It is understood that similar indications were given to other recognised groups such as the Commerce & Industry Group.
However, SLG chairman Steve Turner said at the Weekend School in Exeter last Friday that Law Society President Linda Lee had assured him that Chancery Lane’s membership board had subsequently rejected the proposal for termination at the end of the year. The Law Society will instead seek to re-engage the groups in discussions before determining any future action, he told delegates.
The background to the potential changes is a reorganisation at the Law Society involving the implementation of a new operating system called Blueprint.
Speaking at the Weekend School, Turner said: “We are immensely proud that this close association [with the Law Society] enables SLG to represent its members and play a significant part in the development of practice and law in the way it does.”
Turner said that termination of the RGA, if it went ahead, would appear to give SLG and the other recognised groups two options, namely either to:
- remain independent of the Law Society, unrecognised and without funding, or
- become (again in the case of SLG) a part of the Law Society as a Division operating in much the same way as had been established by the formation of the Junior Lawyers Division.
Turner said he welcomed the news of a change of approach that the Law Society President had brought to Exeter.
He told delegates that the SLG had only just begun to consider the impacts and ramifications of recent developments, including their impact on the group’s discussions with the Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors about how to create a single voice for solicitors in local government.
“Nevertheless you can rest assured that this will be at the forefront of the mind of the incoming Chairman, Bev Cullen, and of the National Executive Committee over the next few weeks and months,” he added.
Turner said it was likely that any changes resulting from these developments would need to be put to SLG members in advance of the currently scheduled AGM in 2012.
A spokeswoman for the Law Society said: “The way that the Recognised Groups Agreement operates is having a discriminatory impact on how we deal with members. We are working in consultation with groups and committees to deliver a new way of working collaboratively.”