Breaking Law Society's moulds

The smooth conveyor belt to the Law Society's highest offices has shuddered to a halt under the sheer weight of candidates – not one, but two new contenders for the presidency, and another challenges the deputy president.

The moves have brought the vigour of overt politics into the council's arena. This contrasts with the covert politics where the succession is determined well in advance, with the council supposedly like a phalanx behind the chosen one.

Anyone who says that to challenge this choice is an affront to council, is affronting the democratic prerogatives of council. Just because they have not been exercised for decades in this way, does not mean that they are not real and present.

But mould-breaking without purpose is not going to get the Law Society much further. Martin Mears and Robert Sayer are angry – their anger is their strength and their weakness. How far do they represent that element who feel the society is not delivering what the members want, when this may often be beyond anyone's power to deliver?

Were John Young and Henry Hodge just facing their challenge alone, there would be no contest on the grounds of experience. It is the arrival of Eileen Pembridge on the scene which throws all the calculations into the melting pot and could render the result wide open. She is a forceful woman, who claims no grudges against Chancery Lane, and she will wave the female banner to the growing number of women constituents.

Each candidate has yet to lay out their stall when canvassing votes. But what members will have to remember is that the presidency is more a process than a position of power. The year is too short to implement real changes and council takes the votes anyway. Much of the President's work is a foregone conclusion. But to capture the presidency would send out a strong signal – members will need to grapple with what exactly that signal is.