Law Society council members are to award their firms lump sums of several thousand pounds for the inconvenience of attending meetings.
Council members voted for the measure last week, arguing the awards were “compensation not remuneration” and would attract a younger and more diverse membership.
Members claim solicitors will be able to justify time away from work if their firms are compensated. While the figure for council members is yet to be decided, suggestions include £5,000 per year, and sums linked to legal aid green form rates.
But critics are attacking the awards as too small to compensate firms and likely to attract bad press. Council member David Keating says the awards are “irrational”.
Keating says: “In council, in the past, we have been pushing the concept of pro bono. We should be the example of pro bono.
“If £5,000 is going to be the great enticement [for firms to allow young partners to attend meetings], I cannot even see that sum on that analogy as being persuasive.”
The society appointed Cambridge University Professor Malcolm Grant as a consultant, to draw up the proposals for compensation.
Professor Grant's recommendations are:
£50,000 for the president, £25,000 for the vice-president and £12,000 for the deputy vice-president.
£20,000 for chairmen and chairwomen of the executive committee – a body which will comprise senior office holders and six council members – if the meetings are monthly, with £10,000 more if the meetings are fortnightly.
£6,000 for members of the executive committee, with an additional £3,000 if meetings are fortnightly.
Levels of compensation for council members are yet to be decided.