At last – some good news

14 September 2020

Dear All We live in difficult times. Even before COVID, the future was anything but bright – now it is even bleaker. I hope however that all our members are keeping well and doing the absolute best they can for their businesses. The profession has received little or no help from the Govt or the LAA during this pandemic and firms have been left to fend for themselves doing what they can to keep staff in jobs, keep businesses going and keep clients happy. It has not been easy seeing huge sums of money being handed out to almost every business apart from ours and equally enormous sums being thrown at failed Govt contracts. Figures published today show that over £500m has been spent by the taxpayer in just a few weeks on the Eat Out scheme. That’s a third of the annual LA budget for all legal aid work, civil and criminal combined. We are only too aware that as more cases are RUId for longer than ever, more cases in the Courts are taking even longer that the financial burden on firms is going to get worse before we will see any improvement at all. The CLSA recognises the challenges faced by our members and wants to do what we can to help. We have therefore decided that there will be a big reduction in membership fees for the coming year. We are very grateful to those firms and individuals who have continued to support the CLSA over the years and we hope we can rely on your support in the future. We also hope that by reducing fees for the year, we will see an even more thriving membership and new members. It is very important that if we are to continue to represent the profession we do so in the knowledge that we speak for the vast majority of the profession. Also, a well subscribed Association will not only continue to develop its services to members but will also be in a position to speak with a stronger voice in representing your interests in the many issues affecting the profession. We were recently part of CLAR and were able to negotiate for the first new money into the criminal legal aid profession since Margaret Thatcher was in power. The extra money may be modest, and there is much more to do, but only by speaking with one voice for our members can we achieve even more. We need your help so that we can help you. There is a new LA contract around the corner. It is vitally important we have a say in its content so we no longer have to sign away our lives on a document we never see. We intend offering Webinars exclusively for members. We are able to offer member discount on certain publications. We are in the process of launching a new website. We hope in due course this will make it easier to join and renew, or obtain your membership card. We are in ongoing discussions with HMCtS about these cards being used for fast track entry to Courts for our members and hope to be able to announce something soon. We are therefore pleased to announce that from 1 October 2020, the cost of annual membership for the coming year for individuals will be just £25 per person, a 75% reduction on the usual fee. For firm membership, there is to be a similar 75% reduction in fees so for example Firm membership for 7 Solicitors reduced from £400 per annum to £100 for the next year. For new members who register on the new website from 5th October 2020 we will be offering  a similar discount and also 4 payment methods , Direct Debit, Card, bacs or cheque Our Administrator, Sue Johnson, will be writing to all members in the next few weeks to advice you on your method of payment and amount to be paid Bill Waddington CLSA Chairman