The Legal Aid Agency (LAA) is taking the unusual step of opening up a tender to firms that wish to enter the Legal Aid market and obtain a Civil Legal Aid Contract e.g., in Family Law.
The LAA states that they have received expressions of interest from organisations that wish to enter the market.
Given that Civil Legal Aid Contracts were recently extended to 31st August 2024, it would mean those new entrants would have to wait until 1st September 2024 before they could possibly do Legal Aid work.
The LAA therefore intends to allow tender applications for work on these extended contracts i.e., until 31st August 2024. Presumably, those new entrant firms would (along with existing firms) need to submit another tender for a follow-on contract from 1st September 2024.
What are the implications of this unusual approach by the LAA? There could be additional competition in your geographical area and further difficulty in retaining existing (e.g. Family) Lawyers and in recruiting new fee earners. Recruitment is already very difficult in most categories of law and depending on the number of contracts let, this could make matters even worse.
My colleague Ian Hopkins recently wrote a news article on Retention of staff and we would recommend that you reconsider that article and take appropriate steps to secure your firms position.
Whether the LAA will allow EXITISING firms with a Civil Contract to tender in other categories or other geographical areas remains to be seen. So, it’s time to review and update your SWOT analysis.
The LAA will publicise information on the process for making applications early in 2023, so watch this space carefully
If we can help you prepare for any of the potential opportunities or threats mentioned in this article, then please get in touch.
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