Boateng in threat to impose pro bono rules

PAUL Boateng is threatening to introduce legislation to force the Law Society to do more pro bono work if it does not respond to Labour's calls for action.

In correspondence with Law Society president Tony Girling, seen by The lawyer, Labour's legal affairs spokesman praised the Bar Council for setting up its own pro bono unit but regretted “the Law Society would appear to have done nothing to build on the recommendation of its own pro bono working party in 1994.”

He added that Labour would be “considering what other alternatives, if necessary of a statutory nature, might be taken if the Law Society itself declines to act.”

Girling responded by announcing that the Law Society plans to open a free representation unit. A Law Society spokesman said the unit would act as a clearing house for cases such as those in industrial tribunals where legal aid was not available.

A free representation unit was one of the recommendations of the 1994 Law Society pro bono working party, referred to by Boateng. Lack of action over its recommendations has prompted a group of high-profile lawyers to set up an independent pro bono working party.