$9m package to protect 13,000 legal jobs
QUEENSLAND'S peak legal body will provide a $9 million pandemic support package in a bid to keep more than 2800 legal practices open and 13,000 solicitors in jobs.
Queensland Law Society today announced it would offer subsidies of 26 percent in the annual cost of solicitor practising certificates.
QLS also will pay 50 percent of membership fees for the Society's full members and a 20 percent subsidy in professional indemnity insurance premiums.
QLS President Luke Murphy said the Society and its council had carefully considered how to help legal professionals and members in response to the unprecedented financial and social impacts of the on-going global COVID-19 emergency.
"Law firms, like other small businesses, are suffering with the COVID-19 restrictions and this package is about helping to keep law firms' doors open and keeping lawyers, support staff and their suppliers in business,'' Mr Murphy said.
"QLS is aware of the serious concerns many in the profession have regarding the cost of doing business including practising certificates, membership and insurance costs.
"As a result, the Society has focussed its substantial support package on reducing the compulsory costs of practice by providing a subsidy to practising certificate fees and professional indemnity insurance levies for the 20/21 renewals period.
"We have additionally halved the price of full membership to QLS, which grants access to significant benefits and critical protections to its members.''
Package benefits announced include:
$1.8 million to provide a 26% subsidy in the annual cost of practising certificates for all of the state's 13,000 solicitors. This equates to a cost saving of $262.70 a year for Principal Practising Certificate (PPC) holders and $131.35 for each of the firm's solicitor employees.
$2.2 million for a 50% subsidy in the annual fees for QLS's more than 11,000 members, with a reduction of full membership from $505 to $252.50, with associate memberships receiving a $38.50 subsidy, and a
20% subsidy on the base professional indemnity insurance levies for practitioners insured through wholly owned QLS subsidiary Lexon Insurance, to be funded from $5 million released from QLS' Law Claims Levy Fund.
Mr Murphy said as a result of the subsidy an employed solicitor who held a practising certificate and was a QLS member would pay $624.15 to renew both their practising certificate and QLS membership in 2020 _ a saving of $383.85
A solicitor who held a PPC and was a QLS member would pay $995.80 to renew both their PPC and QLS membership in 2020, a saving of $515.20, Mr Murphy said.
Nick Dore, principal of criminal law firm Fisher Dore Lawyers, said he welcomed the QLS support package.
"Any relief at this stage is welcome. It will certainly give assistance," Mr Dore said.
He said Fisher Dore, which has five offices, four partners and 34 employees, including solicitors and office staff, had felt the impact of social distancing measures in courts as a result of COVID-19.
Mr Dore said his firm had certainly suffered reduced cash flow as a result of court cases being adjourned for months.
While the firm had not closed any offices, it had to look at restructuring, with staff working reduced hours.
Originally published as $9m package to protect 13,000 legal jobs