Law Society goes £3m over its legal budget

The Law Society spent £7.4m on external legal fees last year, more than £3m over its legal budget, The Lawyer can reveal

The figures were given to Law Society Council members in a meeting last week. The overspend has led the society to review its use of outside firms. It has now decided to bring more of its legal work in-house and to expand its six-strong in-house team.
It is unlikely that main external advisers Herbert Smith and Fox Williams will be affected by the decision. Herbert Smith is acting for the society in its ongoing legal dispute with its former vice-president Kamlesh Bahl.
Bahl won a sex and race discrimination tribunal against the society last summer, but both sides have since launched appeals against the decision and have attempted mediation. In February, The Lawyer reported that the Bahl saga alone had cost the society £2m, including £665,000 on funding an inquiry by Lord Griffiths into the affair.
Fox Williams senior partner Ronnie Fox said it was unlikely that his firm would be affected by the review as it carries out specialist employment work for the society that could not be done in-house.
The society did not comment on its legal overspend last year. But to put it in context, the overall Law Society budget had a £2m surplus last year.
As well as Herbert Smith and Fox Williams, the Law Society uses a panel of 20 firms, mainly to carry out work for the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors.