Independence call for college

THE LAW Society is being called on to relinquish its stronghold on the College of Law's governing body by reducing the number of seats its officers occupy.

Presidential candidate Henry Hodge says the society, which also acts as regulator of the college, must end its “dominance” of the board of governors in the interests of independence.

At present the Law Society council approves appointments to the board, which currently numbers approximately 20 governors including Hodge.

However, Roger Earis, a member of the college's board of management, says the matter is currently under review.

“The college doesn't look for a closed shop or special favours from the Law Society,” says Earis. “They are very careful that they do not favour one or the other of the institutions.

“I think they've bent over backwards to make sure that is not the case, but Henry Hodge's comments do reflect the views of some governors.”

Hodge says the society's dual role seems “a little uneasy”, and suggests that more lay members need to be appointed.

“I would like the relationship to continue, but for the constitution arrangement to be rethought so there are a number of governors at the college appointed by the Law Society, but not the majority,” he says.

“It doesn't do the college any good. They're in a very competitive market and they need to promote their training and the services they provide.”

Hodge's comments echo sentiments which have long existed among some members of the profession.

Alternative providers have also criticised the composition of the college's board, saying it could give them an advantage over other institutions.

Dean of Nottingham Law School Nigel Savage says regulators should not be involved with providers.

“It is a conflict of interests. The Law Society council should decide whether or not they want the college to be controlled by them or whether they want to be separate. There is no in-between,” he says.

Nicole Maley