Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Law Society of Scotland accused of wasting solicitors contributions

Big fall outs at the Law Society of Scotland as the membership begin to grumble over paying £665 a year to fund high salaried staff at the Law Society who do little for the profession. (It’s a bit like a protection racket – Ed)

The Scotsman reports :

Law Society is 'wasting money of its members', critics claim

Published Date: 26 May 2009
By Christopher Mackie

A ROW over the cost of practising as a solicitor has intensified after the Law Society of Scotland was accused of wasting its members' money.

In a letter circulated throughout the profession, David Flint, a partner in MacRoberts, claimed the Society operated as though it had "an open cheque book" funded by the subscriptions paid to it by Scottish solicitors.

Mr Flint has already tabled a motion at the forthcoming Law Society AGM demanding that the cost of the lawyers' practising certificate be cut from £665 to £400, in the face of the harsh economic climate. The motion was accompanied by a letter to all Scots lawyers asking for support and criticising the Society. It accused the organisation of being a growing bureaucracy that failed to adequately represent the interests of members.

Following a campaign by the Society to rebut the claims, Mr Flint has circulated a second letter, detailing specific areas of waste and urging lawyers to vote for his proposal at the AGM.

In the latest document, Mr Flint said the Society had "demonstrated a singular inability to operate within any reasonable budgetary constraints: they have an open cheque book from the members and they operate accordingly."

Mr Flint questioned the increased cost of the chief executive's office, a figure that includes the salary of Lorna Jack, who took the helm in January. The latest draft accounts show that this increased by £90,000 to £326,000 in 2008.

He also highlighted the £98,000 spent on an abortive attempt to relocate the Society's offices in Edinburgh, abandoned in light of a reduction in property values.

Mr Flint also asked whether solicitors paying £665 for the certificate should benefit from the large surplus the Society holds. The 2008 accounts show cash reserves of £1.229 million.

Mr Flint told The Scotsman: "My concern is members' money is being spent on the administration, rather than on services to members. If you have a surplus being run on a members organisation the surplus belongs to the members and it should be used for their benefit."

The Society said the decision to retain cash was approved by a vote of its members and said the increase in the cost of the chief executive office was misleading as the cost was artificially low in 2007 because of unfilled vacancies. It defended its decision to cancel the relocation of its offices, and described the incurred costs as "reasonable" for a transaction of that size.

The Law Society intends to reduce the cost of the practising certificate, but only after a review is complete. Ms Jack said: "

There is a commitment to making a material reduction at this year's SGM in September and we would hope that the profession is prepared to allow the full planning process to be completed and make its decision then."

No comments: