Digby-Bell exhorts Law Soc to electoral reform

High-profile Law Society Council member Christopher Digby-Bell is campaigning for presidential elections to be restored to the solicitors’ representative body.

Digby-Bell will be introducing a resolution to the Law Society Council in October inviting the current president Andrew Holroyd to reinstate public ballot elections following their removal six years ago.

The general counsel and chief executive of Palmer Capital Partners will even call for Holroyd to submit himself to election in a public ballot of the whole profession. Digby-Bell feels that the current system of appointment, where the deputy automatically becomes the president, cannot be justified in “today’s sophisticated market”.

Digby-Bell said: “The uncomfortable truth is that it’s many years now since any president, apart from Fiona Woolf, was viewed by the profession or by the Government as a leader to be reckoned with.

“It’s not right that a profession of 120,000 solicitors should have, in prospect, a future leader in Paul Marsh [the deputy president] who was voted onto the council by a mere 235 members of his constituency and only received 18 first-choice votes out of 90 in the election for president. That’s about 250 votes out of a total of 120,000; or in percentage terms, a vote of 0.2 per cent.”

Digby-Bell’s reservations about the current appointment system come after only 16 per cent of the 120,000 solicitors in England and Wales voted for a change in the procedure.

He said: “The society needs a leader who will reach out to the 84 per cent who didn’t vote.

“We deserve – the profession deserves – much better than this. My vision is to put the Law Society up there alongside the likes of the Confederation of British Industry as one of the leading forces in the life of our country.”