According to the press release issued by the Law Society, the votes cast in respect of the motion to split its representational role from its regulatory function were as follows:
in favour: 8,881 (38.48 per cent),
against: 14,199 (61.52 per cent).
I cannot understand on what basis Mr Girling, the president, can say that this was only the disenchanted section of the profession that stirred itself to vote. The fact of the matter is that just under 40 per cent voted in favour of separation. If Mr Girling wishes to use similar statistics to advance his argument, then he should be aware that only 15,911 (or 19.5 per cent) of 81,589 solicitors voted for him in the presidential election. Does he then have a mandate to speak for the whole profession?
Mr Girling and his team seem to think that the problems associated with self-regulation will simply go away. This will not be the case. There should be a general legal council for regulating the providers of all legal services, just as there is a legal services ombudsman.
I accept that with the way the Law Society is run it has become irrelevant to the majority of solicitors. If Mr Girling and his team do not take on board the genuine fears expressed by enlightened solicitors and consumer groups on the present expensive and inadequate system of self-regulation, then they may find they are acting as members of the cabin crew of the Titanic.
British Legal Association.