The systems crash at the Law Society

THE ONLY creditable thing the Law Society has done since the whole sorry saga surrounding the installation of its Regis computer system began is to finally come clean about what a disaster Regis has been.

The story of Regis sums up the history of the Law Society these last five years. It goes something like this. At some point someone somewhere dreamed up the idea of installing a new computer system – presumably because many other large-ish institutions were doing likewise. But from that time on not one official appears to have taken responsibility for its success or failure. And incredibly, given its spiralling costs, not once did anybody involved in the project breach the Law Society's financial controls (a fact which speaks volumes about those controls).

Meanwhile, while Regis was lurching from crisis to crisis and its costs were going up and up, the elected Law Society Council, and the profession at large, were being kept in the dark. Towards the end of last year, when the system was finally collapsing in on itself, they were being assured it was only suffering from teething troubles. Only when The Lawyer was leaked an email from a senior official, who described the problem as a worse one for the Society than the conveyancing crisis, was it finally admitted by anybody that something was wrong. But by that stage it was being calculated that Regis would cost £7.5m more than anticipated. If anybody was still searching for an explanation for the profession's disenchantment with the society, here it was in black and white.

Now Tony Girling – and don't forget he was a leading light on the council when Regis was first conceived – is promising it will never happen again. Let's hope he is true to his word, and that another Regis-type scandal doesn't blow up in five years' time, leaving the Law Society with yet another great big dollop of egg on its face.