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City pro bono lawyers slam McIntosh for saying large firms should support their high-street counterparts
The Law Society has called for City firms to sponsor the work of high street firms. At the Law Society conference on 27 October, Law Society president David McIntosh said: "I'd like to see a pro bono initiative where a major firm sponsors a smaller firm and shares its money with it." In his conference speech that morning, he had already slammed City firms for ignoring the community service efforts of smaller firms, and told them this must change. He said: "I know that community service is valued by our big battalion law firms. Why else do they take such pride in their own impressive pro bono schemes? But I do ask some of them to speak of their appreciation of the value of other lawyers working at the very edge of community service day-in and day-out. "I ask those who consider their own sector of legal practice to be more important than others' to think again." A spokesperson for the Law Society confirmed that McIntosh's comments related to an initiative that the body was considering. Responses from pro bono officers and partners at top 10 City firms ranged from quizzical to completely damning. One said: "It would be interesting to see if the president's own firm, Davies Arnold Cooper, is even a member of the Solicitors Pro Bono Group." According to the Solicitors Pro Bono Group, the firm is not a member.
"It would be interesting to see if the President's own firm, Davies Arnold Cooper, is even a member of the Solicitors Pro Bono Group"
"Of course we should applaud the good community work done by smaller firms," said another. "But it is the job of the Government to fund legal aid work and the job of the Law Society to raise the profile of its members." One pro bono partner said: "This idea raises extreme considerations and just won't work. If fat-cat, hot-shot firms do ever sponsor firms on Walthamstow High Street, they will only be doing so to assuage their guilt. This will do nothing to advance the social conscience of our employees."