Thu, 23 May 2013
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Gift of the gab
I am a City lawyer and also a trustee of a legal advice charity and Slaughters have for years been far and away the most supportive and generous of the (many) City firms we work with and we are very happy that their support and generosity should be publicised.
On a more general point, I see the picture from both sides - from inside extremely profitable firms with millionaire partners and also, with my trustee hat on, making difficult decisions about whether we can afford to retain experienced legal advisors on salaries which are less than the secretaries, let alone the trainees, in my firm take home. It is disheartening to beg law firms for donations for months and months and this will become increasingly competitive with the imminent disappearance of legal aid for most civil matters (which means that legal advice charities will lose a very significant portion of their current funding).
Is it right that one part of the profession has to spend so much time going cap in hand to the other with months of entreaties often yielding less than 2 hours of one partner's billable time? Of course I am extremely grateful to those firms which contribute anything at all (many do not) but I do wonder whether there is a case for a levy on commercial firms (maybe £50 per fee earner each year) which goes towards supporting the charitable legal advice sector. It may seem unfair that law firms are expected to step into a funding void left by government cuts, especially at a time when profits are under pressure from many forces, but as a profession we need to continue representing the poor, vulnerable and disenfranchised as well as the banks, companies and hedge funds. Moderate, consistent giving by way of a levy that the legal advice charities could rely on would save all parties a lot of wasted time and effort and would bring some stability to the sector.
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