Time to wake up to reality of reforms

AN ASTONISHING degree of complacency was displayed by the Law Society council at its meeting last Thursday. A confused and directionless debate on Martin Mears' policy paper was bad enough. But the most incredible aspect of the meeting was the way council members, including very senior ones, lined up to defend the current constitutional arrangements at Chancery Lane. One member claimed in all seriousness that the system had "responded well" during the elections.

The council appears to have indulged in an exercise of collective amnesia. True, most council members would probably prefer to forget the last few months, but to pretend nothing went amiss is quite extraordinary. Unless, that is, council members have enjoyed the chaos, division, confusion, back stabbing and blood letting that has prevailed at Chancery Lane these last six months. It has certainly boosted the Law Society's media profile.

And, perhaps, they enjoyed the publicity surrounding the sexual harassment allegations that forced John Young to stand down.

If council members believe all this they are living on a different planet. The council chamber on Thursday was packed to the rafters with journalists from national newspapers – many of whom were left baffled by the events of the morning.

They would be forgiven for missing the significance of a motion tabled by council member David Thomas calling on the council to recognise the need for reform and report back in less than a month with a timetabled programme to produce proposals. It was passed unanimously without debate. That in itself is extraordinary given the potential significance of the resolution.

It is an apt reminder of the need for reform that such an important decision could be approved on the nod at the end of a rambling debate on the president's paper which would have shamed even the most parochial district council.