Three-pronged approach to profession's recovery launched by Law Society
By Nicola Laver
A new campaign to help the profession play its part in the country’ economic recovery from the pandemic has been launched by the Law Society
A new campaign to help the legal profession play its part in the country’ economic recovery from the pandemic has been launched by the Law Society.
It will tackle a raft of areas such as lawtech, law firm employment, legal aid and access to justice.
The campaign, launched today and dubbed by the Society as “the three Rs - Return, Restart and Recovery”, will come in three stages: helping solicitors and firms in their safe return to their offices; helping them to restart the economy; and empowering them to drive post-covid-19 recovery.
Law Society president Simon Davis said solicitors are “ready, willing and able” to play their role in helping the economy and UK society recover.
Notably, the Society called on government to give firms flexibility to spend the apprenticeship levy on a range of support, such as enabling firms to use levy cash for lawtech seats and training; solicitor training in secondary specialisms; and training contracts to maintain the pipeline of jobs for those about to complete the Legal Practice Course.
Such a move would “empower law firms to create the new jobs that will provide the backbone of the sector in the long-term”.
The Society also wants to see the apprenticeship levy utilised to support other organisations, including in the third sector, by funding joint roles allowing firms to undertake pro bono work in partnership with legal charities as demand increases.
Davis observed how solicitors across the country have worked tirelessly for clients “to ensure the highest standard of service”.
He added: “As we enter this new phase of the response to coronavirus, with government beginning to lift some restrictions, it is clear that technology will play a vital role in driving the post-coronavirus recovery across all sectors of the economy, including legal services.”
The Society urged government to make immediate investment to drive “the adoption of technologies that will build the resilience of local economies and provide the bedrock of our future prosperity”.
Specifically, it wants tax incentives for firms and lawtech startups; extending the eligibility of the Future Fund to lawtech startups; and it called for a legal data trust to be established to improve accessibility of data for those seeking to innovate in the legal services sector.
Neil Lloyd, managing partner at FBC Manby Bowdler, welcomed today’s statement from the Law Society.
He commented: “Specifically, as a firm which has invested heavily and understands the benefits of apprenticeships, it’s good to see the request to use the levy payments more broadly across the sector.
“Equally, we upgraded our technology platforms last year, a decision that has allowed all our team to work from home since lock down and continue to deliver a stellar service to our clients, so it’s good to see the call for incentives to encourage further adoption.”
The Society also called for a range of targeted tax incentives such as extending the VAT and income tax deferral schemes to help firms with their cashflow; temporary VAT reductions to boost consumer demand and help suppliers; and a temporary relief for employers’ National Insurance contributions as the closure of the government’s job retention scheme draws nearer (it closes on 31 October 2020).
Davis commented: “We want to build resilience in our communities by making justice accessible to all.
“This can be achieved by ensuring employment tribunals are properly and sustainably funded in a way that protects the rights of workers and employers to access the tribunal – without reinstating issue fees, as well as committing to ending legal aid deserts.
“We need to ensure everyone in this country is able to access legal advice when they need it and make sure they are equipped to help rebuild their local communities after coronavirus.”
He added that proper funding of the legal aid system is vital, along with restarting the review of the legal aid means test to enable fairer and wider access for legal aid support.