Plans to reward lawyers for rural work

The government could pay lawyers bonuses to work in remote areas under the new contract scheme, said Geoff Hoon, Minister of State at the LCD.

Hoon told The Lawyer that the system of only using lawyers contracted to the new Legal Services Commission, introduced in the Access to Justice Bill, would give the Government the ability to channel money into areas where they perceive the need is greatest.

“In rural areas people have to travel considerable distances to see a lawyer, because lawyers do not find it economic to operate in, say, north Wales. We can actually provide a contract that would have some incentives built into it to go and practise in that part of the country.”

Citizens Advice Bureaux, law centres and housing advice centres could also be funded to employ in-house lawyers, to give comprehensive advice on the spot and take a case right through to court.

A Law Society spokesman welcomed the proposals, but said that the idea of “parachuting solicitors into legal aid deserts was not enough. The Government should invest in remote practices”.