Law Society leadership in chaos as solicitors pass no-confidence vote

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  • The comment at 11:18 p.m. raises a valid point; but the counter argument is that an organisation that is led by figures which the membership has no confidence in is not well placed to negotiate on behalf of the membership: for, in such circusmtances, there must be real doubt as to whether the leadership can carry any motion proposed following negotiations.

    As to sending the senior leadership into battle again, well it may be magnificent but it is not war.

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  • It is very interesting to note that the house journal of the City solicitors have run with this giving full vent to the possible implications whilst other publications are reporting it but playing it down.

    The truth is that the governance of our profession has been woefully neglected by the profession at large. Leadership has been left to a self selecting group of volunteers who sit on the Law Society Council. Elections to the Law Society Council have often been uncontested.

    It is no wonder that such people buckle when faced by protracted government campaigns. Indeed, the real damage was done between 1997 and 2010 when the then government not only introduced ABSs, which directly threaten the livelihood of all solicitors but also pressed for legislative powers to be passed from the elected Law Society Council to an appointed board, the SRA, supervised by a quango, the LSB. This was done after direct pressure applied by the then Lord Chancellor and Minister of Justice. The contrast with the fight by the press, to avoid a much weaker form of interference, should be showing us what we lost by kow towing to ministerial ideas.

    The comments emanating from Ms Barass about pressure to register ABSs quickly from powerful people should show us that the ABS measure had powerful backers who, presumably, saw a wonderful profit to be made from our work.

    Where was the City of London or high street campaign against ABSs? There was none and so it is hardly surprising that the Law Society Council could not put up a strong defence to this measure.

    Poor Mr Hudson, his predecessor, under whose watch ABSs and loss of legislative power were enacted, ended up a Dame and a privy councillor. Mr Hudson cannot look forward to such preferment.

    The irony of all this is that the only area of law where there has been a consistent and very successful campaign to avoid the worst aspects of government reforms is criminal law. Both Mr Hudson and his predecessor were fully behind this campaign and a cadre of criminal defence solicitors on the Law Society Council worked and work tirelessly to stop such initiatives as competitive tendering and their work is voluntary.

    So, where were you when these issues which affect us all were being decided in 1997 to 2010? It is no good blaming the leadership for past failings when you, yourself, did not join the barricades.

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  • As a foreign in-house lawyer with 8 year of experience who has been trying to qualify in England and due to archaic views of their employees (and SRA for that matter) cannot, I would support any motion which would make this out-dated organisation think what is its purpose.

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  • I am not a criminal lawyer but it seems to me that the leadership of the Law Society has really let down the profession. They are to represent all lawyers not just the large firms. There was a time when to be a solicitor was a proud profession - now it is reduced to a business. Sure it has to make money but it should be done with pride and principles. Having worked in large firms the only reason people make money is because of size not of ability. The Law Society leadership should look to its roots and decide where they stand. Non professional leadership has got the profession into this position. Remove the CEOI and appoint someone who cares and does not see it as a job.

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  • Increasingly the legal profession is required to take a commercial approach in order to meet the needs of clients. On every occasion the Law Society fails to provide any support for both lawyers and law firms regading commerciality. It is out dated and unfit for purpose and other professions find it laughable in comparrison to their own pofessional bodies.

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  • Agree - a great service was done for us all by those prepared to take the time and be brave enough to speak out. I do commercial work and understand little about legal aid. However, access to justice is so important that each and every one of us should do his/her part. We solicitors understand that. If we don't fight tooth and nail for access to jsutice, who will? And who could do it as eloquently as us anyway?

    This is not a first. Remember The Law Society lobbying against the introduction of rules against squatters? Again, no consultation with the profession. Made us look truly self-serving.

    What about PII? They choose to do nothing meaningful.

    Perhaps one of the answers is to create a truly democratic leadership contest, with competing candidates rather than the shoo in and cronyism of the current system that has been the same for decades.

    Let's have that postal vote across the whole profession and see how it comes out!

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  • Anon 2.06

    There used to be elections for the Presidency-then the "wrong" people, such as Martin Meacher got it, and it was declared to be too expensive!

    Democracy is never cheap, but always best.

    The placemen we have had have been disastrous for the profession.

    Incidentally, no resignations yet. They are still treating the people who pay their large, overblown salaries with utter contempt.

    It really is an obscene spectacle-even a banana republic dictator would be embarassed!

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  • It is reported that Des Hudson stated that the SGM cost TLS £120000 whereas a national ballot on the same motion would cost £200000 and that the latter is not justified:

    Could we have a breakdown of what the somewhat incredible sum of £120K was spent on,e.g.transporting in 100 in Council members and meeting their expenses,TLS campaign to oppose the motion,etc.?;and

    Could TLS explain why a meeting/vote involving potentially up to only 600 registered to attend members involved such an apparently excessive cost?;and

    Would a National Ballot of about 100000 members really cost as much as £200000 given that it could largely be done online?

    Why is TLS so afraid of a national ballot if it considers itself representative of the majority of it's members and unlikely or lose it as Hudson asserts?;and

    What safeguards if any would TLS put in place so as to ensure that it's membership was convinced as to the integrity of a National Ballot and that it was full,fair,open and accurate and reported as to one member one vote not say one "Big Firm=many votes?Would it agree to such a vote being administered and counted externally?

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  • A few weeks ago there was a news item about how some people were enslaved not physically but psychologically for over 30 years. I have been a criminal defence lawyer for 27 years. One government after another have imposed cuts. For me the blow below the belt was when defence lawyers were not allowed to claim proper travel expenses. It is such a fundamental cut. One speaker said at the Law Society meeting on the 17th December last that the turn out to the meeting was poor because most Defence and Civil Legal aid lawyers had better things to do. No. I too would not have turned up. I had the choice. Do I turn up and vote for No Confidence or go to a police station to earn some money to feed my kids. I decided to turn up because I fear that if we do not take a stand the cuts will indeed mean I cannot feed my kids. Psychologically Defence solicitor are enslaved. Well done Mr Parry for standing up.

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