Two of the Law Society's heavyweights, Michael Napier and David McIntosh, are understood to be poised to run for office in this summer's presidential elections.
Although no formal announcement has been made, The Lawyer understands that Napier, senior partner at Irwin Mitchell, will stand against Michael Mathews for the presidency and McIntosh, senior partner with Davies Arnold Cooper, will stand for vice-president on the same ticket against Robert Sayer.
It is not believed any candidate will challenge Kamlesh Bahl, the chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, for deputy vice-president.
The deadline for election nominations is not until 3 June, and last week both men denied they had decided to stand.
Napier, an acknowledged expert on conditional fees, said: 'It's not true that I have decided to stand against Michael Mathews. Rumours always fly around the council at this time of year. My current priority is as senior partner of Irwin Mitchell.'
McIntosh said: 'I am thinking about standing for office but I haven't made my mind up – and nobody could have concluded from anything I have said that I've decided to stand. If I did stand it would not be for the presidency.'
Mathews said that if the pair did stand against him he would be 'disappointed'.
Both Napier and McIntosh worked for Mathews' campaign last year.
Mathews said: 'There is no reason to suppose I wouldn't win. Going around the country I haven't detected any appetite among the profession for a contest.'
Sayer said: 'If it's true, then it's a waste of the £100,000 it will cost to hold a contested election. I've been trying to work with them for months.'
A contested election has been widely expected since Kamlesh Bahl announced she was standing for deputy vice-president last year.
It now seems that Bahl is considered unbeatable, forcing potential challengers to go straight for the higher offices.