Commission boosts local society cause

A “VIBRANT” network of active local law societies has been unearthed by a commission set up to examine their relationship with Chancery Lane.

The Partnership Commission, given the task by the Law Society with the aim of strengthening Chancery Lane's links with the grassroots of the profession, reported to the local law society conference held in Birmingham last Thursday.

Among its proposals to boost the services provided by the 125 local law societies in England and Wales is an annual Challenge Fund able to award local societies with cash for new projects.

It also wants to give greater weight to the views of local societies, which it says should provide more services themselves.

But despite a string of recommendations to improve co-ordination and services, the commission's secretary David Sharples was upbeat about the report's findings. “What we have discovered is that the majority of local law societies have reasonably high membership levels, are vibrant and effectively represent the views of their membership,” he said.

John Aucott, Partnership Commission chair, said he wanted more than £100,000 set aside for the fund.

He acknowledged there was a danger of local law societies being superseded by special interest groups.

“Letting that happen would be a retrograde step for the profession and another example of its splintering,” he said.