Law Soc council says yes to executive committee

The Law Society's reform plan received the go-ahead from the council this week, dooming 48 committees but giving birth to an executive committee from 1 February next year.

However, council members were divided over plans to select, rather than elect, members of the interim executive that will drive the changes through until June next year.

Vice-president Kamlesh Bahl said that the eight-person executive, including the three office-holders, needed to be made up of people who were “100 per cent committed to reform”.

Many council members insisted that elections were essential if the council was to take its democratic traditions seriously.

Graham White said: “If you don't have on board people who are sceptical, then the validity of the ideas is questionable.”

But Philip Hamer said the office-holders needed to act like managers of a football team, picking the best players, not having the fans vote for the team.

The council was presented with an all-or-nothing framework which would see many of the 160 committees and sub-committees replaced by short-term, goal-focused task forces and an executive that could implement council decisions.

Despite widespread concern over the detail of the Reform Working Party's report, council members were enthusiastic about the general thrust of their work and supportive of the urgent need for change.

Members acknowledged that the Law Society was seen as “arrogant”, “out of touch” and “irrelevant”.

Maria Fernandes summed up the majority mood when she said: “To some of you it may not be a perfect plan, but it's a plan. Let's get on with it.”

Bahl agreed that “not everything will work and I think we will have to adjust it as we go along”.