Law Soc calls time on new commercial arm

Law Society Services Ltd (LSS), an arm's-length Law Society company responsible for developing the society's commercial services, is to be disbanded, just two years after it was set up.

The U-turn follows concerns that the company, which was responsible for running the Law Society's Gazette and the society's new business centre, was too independent from the Law Society.

LSS took over the running of the income-generating activities of the society in 1995, with a view to operating as a commercial entity. It was the brainchild of Geoffrey Bignall, its chief executive, who was made redundant in November last year.

Secretary-general Jane Betts has pushed to get rid of the company as part of her restructuring of Law Society management, and earlier this month the Law Society council agreed to disband it.

At the meeting she argued that the Law Society existed to provide services to its members and not to make a profit.

If part of the society's activity was so independent it could be hived off as a limited company, the society should not be doing it in the first place, argued Betts.

In the future, income-generating activities will remain part of the society and be restructured into two business units – membership services and the Gazette, publications and conferences.

Veteran council member Roger Jones, chairman of the board of directors at LSS, said that the debate on the means and delivery of commercial services had been on-going for years and would not stop here.

“I very much hope that the staff of LSS will feel that the uncertainty that has been surrounding their activities over the past months is over and they now feel more secure and settled,” he said.