Fears for the future of the Young Solicitors Group (YSG) have been raised after it emerged that the Law Society is planning to slash its annual grant from £40,000 to around £30,000.
Under the terms of the Recognised Group Agreement, which was drafted in December but is currently under proposal, funding levels across all Law Society groups are set for review.
YSG chair Jane Russell confirmed the cut and told The Lawyer that YSG would struggle to make up the missing funds through sponsorship alone.
“We might not be able to survive the next year,” she said, adding that the YSG spends its annual budget on projects such as its helpline, magazine and pastoral care programme.
Christopher Digby-Bell, the Law Society member for the City, said the cut was “betraying the next generation of lawyers”.
“The cut will mean that the YSG will receive only 60p from the Law Society for each young solicitor. [This is a] paltry investment in the future of the profession,” he continued. “This is bound to undermine young solicitors’ respect for, and confidence in, the Law Society and could lead to the society losing the support of half of its entire membership. Young lawyers deserve to be nurtured and encouraged by their governing body, not put down like this.”
A Law Society spokesman denied that the proposed funding arrangements would pose any problems for the group, which represents approximately 50,000 members of the profession.
“The Law Society’s support for the YSG is not at risk,” he said. “On the contrary, as a result of a new agreement governing relations with all the society’s recognised groups, the society has a means of offering continuing support by reference to clear criteria. The kind of support offered is not only financial, but also staff support and access to other resources.
“It’s true that financial resources are finite, and bids for financial support – as in the case of the YSG – may significantly exceed what’s available for distribution.”