A CHALLENGE fund set up by Chancery Lane to help local law societies pay for new initiatives has been dismissed as a “sop” by the president of one of the country's largest societies.

The Law Society has invited local societies across the country to apply for a slice of the £25,000 fund by submitting projects to improve communications among practitioners.

But Manchester Law Society's president, Anne Kershaw, said: “Speaking personally, I am unhappy about the fact that individually we are paying large amounts of money to the Law Society and then being offered such a small amount back.”

The challenge fund idea was one of the proposals of a society inquiry into ways of boosting its relationship with the 120 local societies.

But the inquiry initially recommended more than £100,000 be set aside for the fund.

In a recent circular to fellow local law societies, Surrey Law Society president Richard Tyler described the commission as a “damp squib”.

But Law Society corporate and regional affairs head Andrew Lockley said: “This is the first time the Law Society has provided any funds for local societies. It is a small start but we believe it is a useful start.”