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Women solicitors work wonders for Will Aid

Women solicitors along with hundreds of trainees and support staff have played a major role in Will Aid's continuing success. The charity will-writing campaign which runs annually in November has demonstrated tremendous growth in fundraising income year on year, raising more than £1.5 million in November 2010 - and women solicitors have paid a big part in this continued growth.

In 2009, 434 generous and hard working women solicitors signed up to the campaign and raised a total of just under £404,000 in donations from will-makers. In 2010, 560 signed up and raised an astonishing £524,000.

Shirley Marsland, Will Aid campaign manager said:

"There has been a massive increase in the numbers of women solicitors signed up to Will Aid. It would seem that they also raise more money for the Will Aid charities. Our records show that women solicitors raised an average of £935 per head compared to an average of £732 for the men taking part. Obviously I can only count the people at these firms which are registered as our primary contact so we don't know how many other women or men there are behind the scenes."

Good for Business

The big question is why should solicitors get involved - apart from the simple fact that it is good for the soul to give, with no expectation of return? In an economic downturn solicitors need to grow their client base and increase profit margins. Against this background, taking part in Will Aid may not seem like a good idea for a firm of solicitors who feel the ever increasing pressure just to stay afloat.

But Eilish Adams, owner of Adams Law LLP in Chiswick, signed up to Will Aid for the first time in November 2010 and can really see the benefits of taking part. She wrote Wills for Will Aid clients who came to her through local and national publicity and raised just under £1400, including Gift Aid.

Eilish Adams says:

"I would argue that taking part in Will Aid is beneficial to law firms on many levels. To begin with, Will Aid is a great opportunity to grow your Wills bank, although this does depend on how much time a firm feels that they can commit to the process. Given that nearly 70% of people die without having made a Will and some 500,000 people die in the UK each year - that is potentially a lot of missed probates. By not taking part, you also miss the opportunity to have contact with individuals who may require other services you offer at some point in the future.

Last year I took part in Will Aid, having just set up as a sole practitioner. I had 40 plus enquiries. Of these 40 enquiries only 3 had made Wills previously. Most had not had contact with a law firm since they bought their last home. My Will Bank increased and all clients came from within a 6 mile radius. Since then I have made 4 Lasting Powers of Attorney and 2 Probates. The time spent in preparing and executing the Wills has been more than repaid. I think of my 40 plus enquiries as 40 potential long term clients. If you take the long term view it is the easiest form of marketing you could ever engage in. "

Good for local people and for our professional reputation

At the other end of the scale as far as firm size goes, Wards solicitors with offices in Bristol and the surrounding area have participated in Will Aid for many years. Jenny Pierce, equity partner and Head of Probate Team and recent winner of the AWS award for Best Woman Solicitor managing a probate practice, said:

"Many of our Will Aid clients said they had previously been worried about seeing a solicitor but that actually they had quite enjoyed the experience. This is why Will Aid is important to us. We can demonstrate the value of using a qualified and experienced professional to write Wills. Participation in the scheme also gives us the opportunity to show clients that we are approachable and caring.

We are pleased that the campaign has encouraged so many local people to write their Will and so save families and loved ones from the strain of intestacy."

Good for Charity

Wards Solicitors have nine branches in the Bristol area and in November 2010 raised a staggering £24,000. This amazing fundraising total smashes their previous record and makes them the current top performing firm.

Jenny Pierce explained how they achieved such a great result:

"I paid my small part in increasing uptake as I do remind people to look out for Will Aid at the many talks and seminars I give throughout the year. But most of our clients responded to Will Aid coverage in the media. We decided to accept everyone who contacted us rather than limit the numbers of Wills written and spread the work load between our branches and the twelve members of our probate team. In total, we wrote about 200 Wills for clients."

Nine charities fund the scheme and share the donation income. These charities, ActionAid, Age UK, British Red Cross, Christian Aid, NSPCC, Save the Children, Sightsavers, SCIAF and Trocaire, are all doing fantastic work here in the UK and around the world to transform the lives of children, older people, families and whole communities.

The campaign will run again in November 2011. More solicitors are needed to meet the ever-increasing demand from the public. So why not join the team that works wonders for Will Aid? Your participation will make a big difference to the success of the 2011 campaign and so to the lives of many people in the UK and around the world. For more information about how to register, please visit the Will Aid site.

By Sue Davison, Will Aid. Contributors: Eilish Adams, Adams Law LLP and Jenny Pierce, Wards Solicitors.