October is the month all solicitors have to renew their annual practising certificates. The practising certificate year runs from 1 November. It is an electronic process. I log on, click the button to confirm that I have met relevant training and other requirements and pay the £316 fee. It should all be over in half a dozen clicks. My worry is the ‘what ifs’?
What if I forget my username or password? What if the portal won’t accept my logon details? Suppose the information won’t upload? Suppose my payment won’t go through? Suppose the whole system is down so that no-one can renew their practising certificate? So it is with a sigh of relief that I received my ‘Application Successful’ message. But there must be some solicitors who, for whatever reason, are not able to get their applications in on time? We are so busy attending to clients. It is easy to be timed-out. So whatever happens to them? Are they forevermore barred from practising? At least not until they can get the problem sorted out. But what a hassle.
Overall, I think that £316 is good value for money. It’s not just that it allows me to ply my trade. It also gives me fringe benefits, such as:
- Use of the Law Society Library. For me, it is the library of last resort. It has things in it which are not available anywhere else. Like the Finchley Inclosure Act 1811, which I needed to plug a hole in a land-title. The librarian found it in 5 minutes. It was in mint condition. Along the way, I also discovered an early 19th century proposal to flood the whole of Finchley and make it into a reservoir. Fortunately, it never happened. Otherwise there would be lots of us walking around in wet-suits.
- Use of the Law Society Common Room. It’s like walking into an exclusive club-except is not exclusive. Just remember to bring your Law Society pass so that you can get through security.
- The weekly Law Society Gazette, which is now sent to me as an e-mail, and enables me to keep up to date with professional news. I also get daily updates.
- And my own personal web-page, which can be accessed through the Find a Solicitor Portal. It tells people who I am, that I’m qualified to practise; where I work and what I do.
For those of us who provide legal services directly to the public, the big-ticket item is the professional Indemnity Insurance. Fortunately, in my own case, because of the nature of my work and the fact that I am attached to large organisations, that massive bill does not come out of my pocket.
If you would like to know more about the legal profession and how to get into it, please see the following link to, ‘Legal Profession: is it for you?’
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