Welsh lawyers give support for plan to break away from 'English' Law Society

SEVENTEEN regional Welsh law societies are ready to sever links with Chancery Lane and form an independent Law Society of Wales.

Umbrella group the Associated Law Societies of Wales (Aslow) is consulting the 2,000 solicitors in the principality on whether they want to reform the present Law Society structure, or break with England altogether.

Although the consultation period runs until 15 March, The Lawyer understands from sources in Chancery Lane and Cardiff that there is strong support for separation.

The consultation paper says a Welsh law society would be “almost totally” independent from England.

However, it concedes that the disciplinary and regulatory functions would remain in England “for financial reasons” and that the revenue from practising certificates in Wales would be not be sufficient to run the new organisation.

Carolyn Kirby, acting secretary of Aslow, confirms that a sizeable and influential minority are in favour of separation.

“A lot of the most contentious parts of the Law Society, such as the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors, would continue in Wales whatever, so most respondents are in favour of the creation of a Welsh section of the Law Society,” she says.

The main impetus for separation comes from recent moves towards Welsh devolution and the establishment of a national assembly in Cardiff.