The Law Society paid out approaching £1m in recruitment fees over ten months in 2013, as Norton Rose Fulbright (NRF) took the lion’s share of disclosed legal fees for that period, standing at almost £450,000, the body’s latest accounts reveal.
Recruiter Michael Page took home £919,919 in the ten months to October 2013, a 41% uptick on fees paid in the whole of 2012, when the figure was £654,555.
The fees are listed in the Law Society Group (LSG)’s latest financial accounts published in early June, with the 2013 financial period shortened to October in order to align it with the payment of practising certificate fees.
With regard to its recruitment bill, a Law Society spokesperson told Legal Business: ‘Some senior positions within the Law Society Group were filled by interim contractors and permanent staff provided by Michael Page. The Group comprises the Law Society, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and our shared services arm, Corporate Solutions, which includes HR and finance departments.’
NRF, meanwhile, was paid £435,373 in ten months, which despite being by far the largest legal fee disclosed, constituted a 19% drop on 2012, when the top ten UK and Global 100 firm received £537,803.
Much of the work stemmed from NRF’s role advising the SRA in relation to professional indemnity issues.
The Law Society is obliged to disclose the fees received by NRF as a ‘related party transaction’, as NRF competition partner Martin Coleman is a member of the SRA board.
Transactions are also listed for Herbert Smith Freehills (HSF), which took £5,352 – an 85% decrease on 2012’s sum of £35,976 – and Weightmans for consultancy fees, which received £17,054, down 52%.
HSF’s fees are disclosed in light of Charles Plant’s recently ended role as SRA chair, while at Weightmans transport lawyer Charlie Jones is on the council.
The LSG’s latest financial accounts also show that the cost of dealing with an increasing number of firms in financial difficulty doubled from £3m to £6m, in a period that saw the body enter the black for the first time since 2010 and outgoing Law Society chief executive Des Hudson receive a pay rise of nearly 20%.
Michael Page declined to comment.