Focus: The law society: Chancery lame

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  • The Law Society used to be run by a bunch of old farts, and it is now run by a bunch of politically correct law firm drop outs. Each has been totally irrelevant to me as a provincial and now an overseas lawyer. How many of us would notice if it disappeared ?

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  • It is way past the time that the Law Society was wound up.
    The SRA is obviously the regulator and is increasing its power all the time-even though it is just a box ticking bureaucracy.
    The only future for the Law Society was to represent the profession to the regulator-but it didn'y have the guts, being trapped in the past..Aoitt

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  • As one of the people likened to a First World War General (“Lions led by Donkeys”), an “old fart” or “politically correct law firm drop out”, I would like to comment as follows.
    If you follow the historical analogy, you are meant to think that I was a General sitting in well behind the front line in my chateau sipping champagne whilst the brave employees of the Law Society were sent to the front as cannon fodder.
    In fact, this is an incorrect observation; the better analogy is with the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War. Law Society staff were like the soldiers Soviet. They had the whip hand and an incredibly nasty battery of tools to use against Generals who got out of line.
    During the Russian Civil War a famous Tsarist General, Brusilov, was drafted in to assist the Bolsheviks. Needless to say he had to rigidly tow the Bolshevik line. Law Society staffs were always on the lookout for Brusilovs to fill the officeholder positions.
    In this article a former senior Law Society official is quoted as saying the following:-

    “The society’s never got its head round the fact that it’s lost its role as a regulator,” comments a former Chancery Lane senior official. “After the Clementi review it should have fought in the ditches to keep that position, but it compromised and failed in the end.”

    Michael Garson, Linda Lee and a few people did fight this. They received no support from Law Society staff in this, quite the reverse. Lord Falconer, the then Lord Chancellor, was brought down to Chancery Lane to tell Council Members to vote for the change. Most did so. Perhaps Mr Ames would like to list, by name, the Law Society staff who sought to temper the then Chief Executive’s enthusiasm for this change.

    Furthermore, There are also complaints about the LSA 2007 in this article as follows:-

    “Indeed, regulating the solicitors’ profession lies at the heart of the Law Society’s identity crisis. To be fair, the legislation itself is considered to be far from ideal. Ironically, instead of -simplifying the regulatory maze ¬identified by Sir David Clementi in his 2004 report, the LSA has added even more mud to the water.”

    No one would have thought that Law Society staff had input into the LSA, would they? But they did and if it is a mess then they are partly responsible.

    As usual, there is also an attack is on the Law Society Council. As “a bloated retirement home for senior practitioners who have been put out to grass by their firms.”, even though Mr Ames knows that there is a wide age range on the council. He even revives the previous Chief Executives idea of slimming down the council. A small council would, of course, have been easier to control.

    This article is all about an over mighty and barely accountable bureaucracy, namely the officials of the Law Society, suddenly realizing that the changes they have foisted on the profession are going to have a profound effect on them. These changes were “pushed” by Des Hudson’s predecessor and they have nothing to do with him.

    Income is falling and the Law Society officials have to learn that they are not going to escape from the fate of the high street as a whole. Their jobs are at risk now and will be for the foreseeable future.
    The days when they could behave like Mamelukes (Egyptian officials who tended to execute their leaders) are over. This article, centering on Des Hudson’s salary, is the last gasp of that tendency.
    You won’t get rid of Des and things are not going to get easier for Law Society officials.

    Finally, Mr Ames you should take note of some Council Members reluctance to hold practising certificates. This is not a sign that they are retired or has beens. It is a sign that they understand what is about to happen to this profession and they don’t want to be caught in the mess.

    PS. I am neither an “old fart” nor a “politically correct law firm drop out”. I am someone who gave hours of my time free to try and stop the destruction of my profession. I cared about the future and I followed my principles. I did something instead of constantly moaning.

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  • SRA staff are there to do their job - and that is regulate solicitors - and without such regulation the profession would not be so highly regarded. The cost of the PC fee is determined by those a little higher up (ie the ones taking the big pay increases or bonus) rather than the ordinary staff member (the ones on the pay freeze for several years now) and I can fully understand the concerns of solicitors who have paid high fees for the last few years when the Law Society and SRA have had the monopoly, and now that there will be competition the fees are suddenly lower. So, as there will be competition perhaps those solicitors who feel they have been ripped off and ignored for years should vote with their feet and check out the competition.

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  • The Law Society has failed it's members and the public.
    Those who took control of the Law Society have done very well for themselves as have those upon whom they bestow their patronage.
    They are fortunate to have got away with pulling the wool over the eyes of so many for so long.
    How much longer will members allow this to go on?

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  • As a former, nationally-elected Member of the Council of the Law Society, who was therefore in an enviable position to observe Chancery Lane in action, I would say, it is quite impossible to hate him, so it has to be the other thing.
    The plain fact is that the Profession, consists of two unequal halves: the City and other mega-firms on the one hand, and the rest. Whatever the former may say to the contrary, their power and organisational strength means, that it is they who call the shots, - and they know it.
    At a time when unprecedent challenges rain down upon the profession, few could hand-on-heart deny that Hudson has striven to do his best for all. It ill-behoves those in the City, which unlike the rest of the profession continues to enjoy eye-watering rewards out of the laissez-faire financial policies of the last Government, which simultaneously whacked the rest of us at every available opportunity, - to suggest otherwise.

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  • How on Earth can you say Des Hudson has 'striven to do his best for all'? A man gives himself a 40% pay rise up to £400,000 PA when everyone around him is seeing financial pain, legal aid cuts are coming in, the Law Society does not even act as a regulator anymore, and he is meant to be some kind of saint doing good for all? Are you totally barmy? Sorry, but it all looks just like it is. Worse, is he not paid by the very lawyers who are now losing out? Young lawyers with little future are paying money into the Law Society which is then being turned into a huge pay rise for someone, who legally, no longer has almost any say over how lawyers operate. The Law Society now is just a quango and pretty much pointless, that its Chief fills his pockets at the same time as all this turmoil is a terrible message - but sadly a message we have come to expect from such organisations. Abolish the Law Society now and return the money to the profession.

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  • Just had a look at the Law Society's annual accounts for 2009, interesting to see how much the profession pays for these people:
    "Practising certificate (PC) fee income reported in
    the year amounted to £126.0m, compared with
    £103.7m in 2008. On the face of it this represents
    an increase of £22.3m or 21.5%."
    I.e. the Law Society in 2009 - when lawyers all over the place were seeing less income, saw its own income rise by 21.5%. Then you just have to add in the nice big fat salaries and pension contributions to the execs and you have a jolly nice gravy train.

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  • Anyone interested in standing for the next Law Society Council elections on an "abolish the Law Society" platform?

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  • Funny, but I never pay any attention to the Law Society at all. It's a complete irrelevance to the City - take a look at the Gazette (there are probably a few thousand shrink-wrapped editions floating around your office somewhere).

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