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25 May 2012

£21 Million of Free Legal Advice Provided By Solicitors Each Year

 

On Thursday 24th May 2012 the Law Society of Northern Ireland hosted a meeting of the Committee for Justice and provided briefings on the important role performed by the network of solicitors’ practices.

The contribution which solicitor practices make both to the local economy and to the local community was emphasised to the Committee for Justice. Speaking about the event Law Society Chief Executive Alan Hunter stated

“Our research shows that solicitors’ practices provide employment to around 6,000 people in Northern Ireland. Each solicitors’ practice injects around £25,000 a year into the local economy by purchasing products and services necessary to run their practice, this too creates employment in those areas.

Solicitors’ practices in Northern Ireland have a strong tradition of providing free legal services and the average practice provides 8.5 hours unpaid legal assistance each and every week. In monetary terms we have estimated that members of the profession provide about £21 million of free legal advice and assistance each year. Solicitors also support their local community through contributing to local community, charity and voluntary groups.

The Law Society is concerned to preserve the existing network of solicitors’ practices. Solicitors’ practices spread throughout the jurisdiction provide a one stop shop for legal services in the cities, towns and villages in which they are based. The Society will be working with the Minister for Justice, to ensure that the implementation of the Access to Justice Report supports the existing network of solicitors’ practices and does not undermine it.”

Alan Hunter Chief Executive with Paul Givan, Chair of the Committee for Justice
Alan Hunter, Chief Executive with Paul Givan MLA, Chair of the Committee for Justice

 


Research Findings

The research undertaken by the Law Society of Northern Ireland was conducted by way of a survey of solicitors’ practices in Northern Ireland.

There are 570 Solicitors practices spread throughout in 74 geographical locations in Northern Ireland;

Employ                 

Over 6,000 people are employed throughout Northern Ireland.

Provide                  

Over 4,000 hours of Pro-Bono legal advice is provided by the solicitor profession each week which equates in mandatory terms to a value of £21 million.

Contribute             

96% of solicitors throughout Northern Ireland perform a voluntary role with a community charity or voluntary group often providing free legal advice.

Spend                  

Solicitors practices spend over £14 million purchasing goods and services within the local economy. On average each solicitors practice on average spends £25,000 within their local area.


The Committee for Justice meeting the Council of the Law Society

 

Access to Justice Report

The Access to Justice Report was published for consultation by the Minister for Justice in September 2011. The Report was produced by a Mr Jim Daniel and contains wide ranging proposals that will impact on the availability of civil legal aid for citizens in legal need.