The legal profession has experienced significant changes and challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Law Society has been working hard behind the scenes to put measures in place to respond to this crisis effectively and support you, our valued members in this difficult time.
Now more than ever we believe it is crucial to stay connected, work together and be united as a legal community.
Support Package for our Members
To help ease the financial burden and to ensure that all our members are fully supported, all Ordinary membership fees will be reduced by 30% as a “one off” for the 2020/2021 Membership year.
In addition to this reduction in fees, the following support measures are also offered:
- Large law firms with 10 or more staff will be able to pay their membership fees in instalments, subject to approval by the Law Society’s Chief Executive Officer. (For example, fees could be divided into four instalments payable in June, September, December and March.) Firms are requested to contact the Law Society via firstname.lastname@example.org if they wish to make use of this option.
- Sole practitioners and individual members have the choice TO pay their membership fees in instalments via a payment plan.
- Free CPD– all Ordinary or eligible Associate members that renew or join by 31 July 2020 will be able to access CPD Freedom* (terms, conditions and exclusions apply) at no cost in 2020/21.
- From 1 August 2020 CPD Freedom will still be available to Ordinary or eligible Associate members that renew or join at the 2019/2020 rates.
- On Leave memberships have been extended to members who have been made redundant or stood down. (Click here to apply.)
- The Law Mutual Administration Levy (of $100 per practitioner) will be reduced to Nil for practitioners who are members of the Law Society of Western Australia as at the 31 December 2020 and had been members for at least three months prior to that date. Payments of the levy made for qualifying practitioners (by 15 November) will be repaid by Law Mutual after the 31 December 2020.
You do not need to do anything in relation to repayment of the administration levy for qualifying practitioners. The Law Society will review memberships after 31 December 2020 and calculate any repayments due. Law Mutual will make those repayments soon thereafter. Do not deduct the amount of any administration levy from payment of your Law Mutual invoice.
To support the Law Society, membership subscription fees based on the 2019/20 rates are also available to any member/s who may wish to pay more than the reduced 2020/21 COVID-19 subscription fees. The Law Society appreciates the continued support and loyalty of its members.
How have we been able to fund the reduction to Ordinary Membership fees for the 2020-21 Membership year?
The provision of support to Ordinary members by way of the 30% reduction to members fees will be primarily funded through accessing a portion of the Society’s cash reserves and also rationalisation of staffing costs.
Members were informed by the President on 6 March 2020 that he, the CEO and staff collectively had volunteered to reduce their hours and pay by 40% where it was possible to do so. Based on existing staffing levels, this initiative reflects a saving of $1.2m over a twelve-month period.
Accessing capital reserves to support members has been planned and measured to ensure that the maximum membership fee support could be provided to our Ordinary Members while still maintaining the reserves required to ensure that a stable membership organisation ready to advance and grow once these challenging times pass is maintained.
While our current operations are impacted by COVID-19, our team is working to assist in reducing the financial impact and to ensure that your peak professional body is here for you at this important time and into the future. Our team has worked to stagger their hours so that we collectively are able to continue to perform the important functions of the Society via online channels, while our traditional face-to-face engagement is not presently possible.
Law Mutual (WA)
In addition to the above the Council of the Law Society of WA as Trustee of the Law Mutual Fund has agreed a number of measures to relieve the financial pressure on insured practices, help protect jobs in the legal profession and support the continued availability of legal services to members of the community:
- Professional Indemnity insurance premiums will be subsidised via the Law Mutual Fund as previously approved by the Law Society of Western Australia as Trustee of the Law Mutual Fund on 25 March 2020.
- An Insured will be able to defer payment of their annual contributions by six months. Contributions will now be payable by 16 November 2020, not 15 May 2020.
- All firms will be able to be reinvoiced before the payment date by submitting a fresh application providing details of reduced staffing numbers. The date of 30 September is the last date for submission to allow for time to reissue invoices prior to the extended payment date.
What will you need to do regarding your Law Mutual Insurance?
By now, all practices should have submitted applications to be covered by the insurance arrangements for the 2020/2021 insurance year. If you have not done this, we urge you to do it as a matter of urgency.
Most practices that have applied will have already received an invoice. If not, you will be receiving one soon. You do not need to pay this invoice until 16 November 2020. Of course, you can pay before then if you wish to.
If you have not already paid and your practice reduces the number of partners, employed practitioners or general employees from those listed on your original application form, you can resubmit an application form by the 30 September 2020 that lists the reduced numbers (noting all practitioners must be specifically named). Please note that the ‘deeming’ date for the number of general employees will be 1 September 2020.
If you resubmit, an amended invoice will be issued that must be paid by 16 November 2020.
We are here for you
The work of lawyers remains as important and necessary as ever and the Society is committed to continue providing support to our members professionally and personally, by sharing important resources and information, providing online platforms for discussion and connecting with each other.
In a world where our businesses and lives have been disrupted and we live in new norms, it is more important than ever to stay connected and maintain a sense of community for our legal profession.