Law Society paper tackles accreditation of family law

Family lawyers will be asked if they want an accreditation scheme if a draft consultation paper on the issue is approved by the Law Society this week.

The paper, which invites comment from the profession's 20,000 family lawyers, outlines the cases for and against accreditation and suggests ways of implementing it.

Unless it is revised or rejected by the Law Society Council at its meeting on Thursday, the paper will argue in favour of accreditation.

Drawn up by the society's family law committee, the paper says the arguments in favour outweigh those against “provided a measure of consensus can be obtained on the criteria for membership”.

Committee chair Hilary Siddle said: “The issue needs to get into the public arena as quickly as possible so the profession can air its views.”

Many family lawyers believe accreditation should become an essential feature of family law practice. But it is a controversial issue and some oppose the idea as bureaucratic and interfering.

Nigel Shepherd, chair of the Solicitors Family Law Association, who has been working on the accreditation issue, said: “There is no doubt specialists should be given some kind of recognition for their work. But how they should be assessed is still a matter for debate.”