The Law Society has commissioned market research company NOP to poll its members ahead of the splicing of its regulatory and representative functions, as recommended by the Clementi review.
Law Society vice-president Fiona Woolf said at the society's annual conference last week: "This will inform a major consultation that we are planning for the new year."
The Law Society is copying its counterpart in New South Wales (NSW), Australia. After the state government forced it to split its functions in 2004, NSW undertook extensive research among its members in order to decide what services the representative side of the society would provide and how much it would cost to be a member.
As a result, the society, despite its membership being voluntary, now has 92 per cent of NSW's solicitors on its books. A compulsory practising certificate fee pays for the society's regulatory functions.
"The key is to follow the research and not our instincts," said NSW chief executive Mark Richardson.