The Law Society has agreed to press ahead with an accreditation scheme for family lawyers which could be in operation by the start of next year.
But the scheme, which will give accreditation on the basis of reasonable competence, has been dismissed by the Solicitors Family Law Association (SFLA) as “not worth having”.
The proposed scheme would give accreditation to legal executives and solicitors who have done at least 300 to 350 hours a year of family law work over the past three years. Family lawyers would be able to apply individually or through their firms if they were accredited to Investors in People.
The society will also consider introducing another route to accreditation, such as a written examination, for solicitors who have not clocked up the necessary hours over the past three years.
The society's family law committee has been pushing for a society accreditation scheme for some time and the new scheme is regarded by many council members as a precedent for future schemes in other areas of law.
But the SFLA wanted a more restrictive scheme which would have about 3,000 members. Chair Nigel Shepherd said: “At the end of the day we don't think it's worth having. It is much broader than the one we'd like to see. We believe there should be quality criteria.” He said the SFLA was considering the introduction of a separate SFLA accreditation scheme.