City Law Soc launches as law firm champion

Forty-three of London’s biggest law firms have handed the City of London Law Society a mandate to be their representational and campaigning body.

The 43 firms unanimously voted last week (30 March) to make the CLLS its official spokesperson. In effect it will act as City law firms’ trade union, a representative voice on issues such as Clementi, the role solicitors play in the success of City of London and even corporate and social responsibility programmes.

CLLS chairman David McIntosh told The Lawyer: “The members have authorised and empowered the CLLS to be their official representative on matters they can’t manage themselves and matters which the Law Society can’t do for them.”

“The limitation of the CLLS is also our strength. Our brief is to represent City of London practices, the minute we widen our brief we lose our uniqueness,” he added.

The vote follows the move by the CLLS last to introduce corporate membership to all firms with offices in the City. The corporate membership means each firm will pay £2,000 plus £20 for each solicitor practicing its City office.

Corporate membership also requires the participation of the senior and/or managing partner at meetings. Around 13,000 of the 17,000 solicitors practising in the City are members.

The newly empowered CLLS is already planning to give lawyers a voice in the new panel to promote London as the world’s leading financial centre, as announced by the Chancellor Gordon Brown in last week’s budget.

Last week’s meeting also voted on a change of constitution to set the CLLS up as separate entity from its parent, the City of London Solicitors’ Company.

McIntosh believes the renewed support for the CLLS could spread to the professions other professional bodies. “The reinvigoration of the CLLS and the willingness of the firms to be involved could cross over to the national Law Society.”