City firms join legal aid lobbying fight

A group of City law firms including Clifford Chance and Lovells have signed a letter to the Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, in support of solicitors carrying out legal aid work.

The 28 firms say that the government’s proposals for legal aid reform “are a real threat to access to justice for some of the most vulnerable people in society”.

Signatories to the letter also include top 20 firms such as CMS Cameron McKenna, Eversheds, Herbert Smith, Hammonds, SJ Berwin and Taylor Wessing.

The letter concludes: “A market model for legal aid provision could be made to work, but the current proposals mean that it simply will not make commercial sense for solicitors to take on legal aid. Committed as our legal aid colleagues are to public service, they will be forced to leave the sector.”

The calls come after the Law Society told Falconer that the proposed reforms will force the closure of hundreds of legal aid firms across the country.

Des Hudson, Law Society chief executive, said in a statement: “If these reforms are to work then the Government needs to make fee levels viable and provide more money to help firms make the necessary adjustments.”