The Law Society and Bar Council are among a group of professional bodies which are coming together to improve public and stakeholder appreciation of the contribution made by professionals to society, Legal Futures can reveal.
The group – called Professions 4 Good – is to make social mobility and fair access to the professions the priority issue for its initial campaign work when it formally launches in a few weeks’ time.
It combines the legal, accountancy, property, construction and engineering professions, and other members include the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).
The organisation is chaired by Louis Armstrong, a former barrister who retired as chief executive of RICS last year, and governed by a steering group comprising the chief executives of each body.
The issue of social mobility and fair access has been identified as an area of concern and activity to all group members, and so it was thought to make sense to collaborate to maximise the impact of initiatives and joint promotion. P4G will also work with the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills and Department for Education in progressing their agendas on social mobility; the former is charged with taking forward the Milburn report on access to the professions.
Legal Futures understands that some of the work currently being done as a result of the Milburn report, such as the development of a social mobility “toolkit” for use across the professions, may pass to P4G.
The creation of P4G follows a report issued in May 2009 that claimed the contribution of the professions to the UK is “comprehensively undervalued”.
The study – The public interest in peril? – said problems with how the professions are classified for the purpose of economic analysis, as well as widespread ignorance of their size and value, risked unintentional damage to a “key strategic asset”.
Commissioned by the Law Society, RICS and CIMA, it was produced by communications and research consultancy Spada, which is to provide the secretariat to Professions 4 Good.
The study found the professions losing out to groups such as the CBI in getting their views heard, meaning they need to develop “a unified voice on many policy areas and engage more effectively with government, business, organised labour and consumer interests”.
Mr Armstrong told Legal Futures that P4G would promote the “critical role” the professions play in developing the economy both here and abroad, noting that the “ethics, integrity and standards” exemplified by the professions “have become even more important during the recession”.