In the early 1970’s a number of solicitors, concerned that the growth in the profession had led practitioners to become more isolated, set up the SAS. A bold step and ahead of its time, anticipating similar schemes embraced by other professions. The scheme aimed to build on what was already in place in many communities – experienced solicitors offering guidance and advice to those colleagues in difficulties. Confidentiality between members and their solicitor clients was guaranteed and the first consultation was always free of charge. The Law Society provided administrative back-up.
More than 35 years later the SAS now has approximately 80 members in different parts of the country. Its aims, however, remain the same – to offer assured confidential advice to fellow solicitors, their families and employees on any problem troubling them, whether personal or professional.
The first consultation remains free of charge and thereafter the member will discuss any appropriate remuneration with the person seeking help.
It is worth quoting in full the Objects Clause of the Scheme:
“The SAS aims to serve the solicitors’ profession by providing solicitors and their staff with initial independent and confidential advice and assistance in respect of professional, business or personal problems. In doing so it seeks to enable individuals requiring help to resolve their problems.”
This is a very wide remit – ‘problems’ include (this is not an exhaustive list):
- Professional problems
- Illness (including alcoholism and drugs)
- Financial worries (including insolvency and intervention)
- Employment problems
- Disciplinary problems
SAS members are available in most areas of the country but in any event are always available to give advice over the telephone to those who prefer not to have to deal with someone who is local or on a face to face basis.
You can if you wish contact a member direct. Should you wish to do so you can either go to the members tab on this web site, which will provide details and experience of individual members or you can print off and use the pdf of our member leaflet which can be found in the introduction to the information section of this site..
Although there is a general feeling that the rule breakers and the dishonest should be left to their fate, the philosophy of SAS is that all solicitors, theirn families and members of their staff who have a professional or personal problem should at least have available one hour’s free time to discuss their problem with a SAS member, even if the only proper advice that can be given is that they should report themselves! It should also be appreciated that SAS members deal with many matters other than misconduct and breach of the rules.
The philosophy of SAS is that it has a valuable preventative function and will enable solicitors to seek guidance at a very early stage before a breach of contravention becomes more serious leading to drastic measures on the part of the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.
Taking advice from a SAS member does not mean that you are obliged to retain that solicitor and you are free to instruct any solicitor of your choice.
The SAS does have a complaints procedure if for any reason a complaint has to be made, please contact us.