After months of attacking the Law Society for financial ineptitude, its deputy treasurer Robert Sayer is now seeking to become its president.
In a surprise move, the former president Martin Mears has agreed to stand as Sayer's deputy rather than make a second bid for the presidency, as he was widely expected to do.
But there is confusion over who will be the third member of the ticket. Solicitors' Association president Anthony Bogan's name has been touted by supporters of a Sayer-Mears ticket, but Mears is adamant David Keating will stand as deputy vice-president and not his former presidential rival.
Sayer, who was Mears' deputy before they lost office in 1996, said he was somewhat reluctant to stand as president but there was a need for continued changes at the Society to protect solicitors' interests.
“I'm absolutely fed up with the way the Law Society is letting the profession go down the drain,” he said.
Since becoming deputy treasurer in November last year, Sayer has repeatedly attacked the Law Society on the handling of its finances and has campaigned against the alleged mishandling of the multimillion pound Regis project.
He has also been a staunch critic of the society's policy on conveyancing.
He was appointed deputy treasurer by Law Society president Tony Girling in a conciliatory gesture. But now Girling has called for nominations for a new deputy treasurer.
The move has infuriated Sayer who says he only took up his six-month appointment four months ago and claims the measure is to prevent him scrutinising the society's finances.
Law Society deputy vice-president and treasurer Michael Mathews strongly denied there was any attempt to gag Sayer and said it was convenient to hold the election now.
Sayer and Mears had been hoping to keep their presidential plans quiet to avoid effectively launching a campaign five months before the election. However, The Lawyer was told last week that dissatisfied solicitors, especially those involved with conveyancing, were lobbying for Sayer to stand as president with Mears and Bogan as his deputies.
Bogan did not reject the suggestion he was on the ticket, but only hours later Mears was furiously denying his former presidential rival had ever been considered.
He said he passionately believed Sayer would make a good president, although the arrangement had yet to be confirmed. “If this comes about and it was successful I might stand [for president] the following year,” said Mears.