Solicitors are no doubt fed up with the current election campaigns. Yet again, Chancery Lane's attempts at democracy have caused a furore – instead of hearing the issues, solicitors find themselves turned off the whole process.
However, the profession would be well-advised to take note of what is really going on. At a time when firms are to be asked to pay for the Solicitors Indemnity Fund debacle, the election contenders are arguing over leaked minutes. This may seem incidental to most lawyers but in fact goes to the heart of the matter – the need for openness and democracy at the helm of the Law Society.
It is easy to dismiss the leaked minutes incident as a storm in a teacup. Nevertheless, some of the suggestions contained in them are breathtaking. Ever since these minutes were leaked, Sycamore has been trying to disassociate himself from them. Simon Baker, campaign manager and chair of the Law Society's education committee, is taking the blame – apparently he did not accurately record what happened at this meeting. And there is a second issue – the relationship between Sycamore and public relations company Lowe Bell Communications.
In March, The Lawyer put to Sycamore what were then rumours that he had been receiving secret campaign advice from Jonathan Hill of Lowe Bell. Sycamore flatly denied this. However, Baker's minutes of the meeting, which took place a month earlier, note "considerable enthusiasm" for an offer by Jonathan Hill and Andrew Last of Lowe Bell to assist the campaign.
It is only since the leak that Sycamore has admitted taking personal advice from Last and Hill, although he insists he received advice from Hill after The Lawyer's initial inquiries into the rumours. But it is clear Sycamore was less than frank about his links with Lowe Bell in March. It begs many questions, not least about his judgement.