Cost cutters threaten Law Society's recruiting service

A cost-cutting working party of Law Society Council members is embroiled in a row with staff members and solicitors groups over its recommendations to abolish the society's recruitment service.

In a confidential report leaked to The Lawyer, Geoffrey Bignell, director of Law Society Services, expresses deep concern over the potential loss of the service, which provides a recruitment service, a newsletter and general employment advice at a cost of £30,000 a year.

And in a second report, also seen by The Lawyer, the society's staff union, the MSF, says it is “appalled” by the way the recruitment staff have been treated over moves to abolish the service they provide.

The end of the service, which has been without a manager since last summer because of the uncertainty of its position, would involve the loss of four staff. Its sister service, careers, would be moved up to Redditch to become part of legal education.

The matter is due to be presented to a strategy committee on Wednesday this week and if the proposal is passed it will go to the next Law Society Council meeting on 5 June.

Mark Dillon, chair of the Trainee Solicitor's Group, said: “At a time when legal services are becoming ever more competitive, the profession should be investing in its trainees and younger members. The amount of money which would be saved would not justify the loss of such a vital service.”

Lucy Winskell, chair of the Young Solicitors Group, said: “We are receiving an increasing amount of calls about redundancy, and part of our service is to refer these calls to the recruitment service. We would, therefore, be very concerned if it was scrapped.”

Chair of the working party which has put forward the proposals, society treasurer Michael Howells, said: “Recruitment is now adequately dealt with by the commercial sector, and the Law Society's service only duplicates a service solicitors get elsewhere.”

Other concerns over cost-cutting proposals which appear in the leaked report include the abolition of the Practice Development Committee, which deals with technology and management issues. The future of the multi-party action service, which improves the exchange of information between solicitors involved in multi-party actions, is also considered.