The scheme is staffed by solicitor volunteers and is endorsed and supported by the Law Society, Lawcare, and the Solicitors’ Charity. The volunteers have had to demonstrate their experience and expertise in the relevant fields in order to become members of the scheme. They are all in private practice and are giving their time freely with no expectation of reward.
We recognise that it can be extremely stressful to face issues that arise in the course of practice as a solicitor and that practitioners will often not know where to turn or where they can seek advice and speak freely to somebody with relevant knowledge and experience who will listen and understand.
Early advice can often provide a solution and can prevent a potentially difficult situation becoming worse.
The objective of the scheme is to be a friend in need, and to provide objective initial guidance to assist the solicitor to understand options and the best way forward. Many of the issues raised by solicitors can be resolved within the one hour’s free advice period. Scheme members may extend that period but you will not be charged any fee for the initial consultation.
It is important to have confidence in the fact that scheme members are expert in their fields and can confidently advise in respect of concerns that you have whether that be an SRA investigation, an employment issue. A partnership or member issue, or a fraud matter. The scheme members are experienced in dealing with such matters and in particular the SRA. If the particular scheme member cannot for any reason assist they will signpost you to another member or another support service.
Consultations are usually by telephone and scheme members will endeavour to answer calls as they are made but if they are unable to do so they will return calls promptly the same day.
Individual solicitors can decide whether or not they are prepared to engage in face to face meetings. In the event, you require a face-to-face meeting and your chosen solicitor is not willing or able to conduct such a meeting you are at liberty to select an alternative scheme member from the list.
Please note there may be circumstances in which your chosen solicitor cannot advise you. As a solicitor, you will be aware that the reasons cannot always be divulged to you because of professional obligations. In such cases, the solicitor will inform you that they are unable to assist you in which case you are at liberty to select another solicitor from the scheme.
Scheme members are independent of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Law Society and the Legal Ombudsman and there is no obligation to report to these bodies. Legal professional privilege applies to all communications.
THE LAW SOCIETY
“The Law Society is dedicated to ensuring that a commitment to supporting the mental health and wellbeing of legal practitioners is central to the post-pandemic working arrangements of the legal profession.
"I am glad that there are other organisations such as the Solicitors’ Assistance Scheme that are also working tirelessly to bring about a healthier and happier legal profession.
“Now more than ever solicitors need a place they can turn to for confidential help and advice.
"I would like to express my personal gratitude to all of the volunteers who dedicate their time to providing this vital lifeline for solicitors.”
President of The Law Society
The scheme has been in operation for over 50 years. It originated due to growth of the profession and the greater challenges faced by practitioners. Over the years the increase in the nature and complexity of law, regulation and commercial pressures has underlined the need for support for individuals, and along with Law Care and the solicitors’ Charity, the scheme is one of the three key voluntary support services for solicitors.
The scheme retains the same objectives and the objects clause states:
"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. "
The scheme covers advice from one solicitor member of your choice. As scheme members are giving their time freely we ask that you only consult one member on any topic. It is not part of the scheme for you to ring more than one solicitor in order to gain a variety of opinions.
Although the consultation is free of charge you retain freedom of choice of solicitor in the event that further representation or advice is required in the form of a subsequent solicitor and own client retainer. Although you are at liberty to do so there is no requirement or expectation that you will instruct the same solicitor who has advised you under the scheme.