Law Society proposal set to open way for Bahl challenger

A CHALLENGE to Kamlesh Bahl's bid to become the first woman leader of the Law Society came a step closer last week with the preliminary approval of a plan for the council to nominate its own candidate.

The proposal, hatched by a constitutional working party headed by the previous president Tony Girling, was given the thumbs up by the society's policy committee. It will go before the full council in March.

If the council endorses the plan, it will hold secret elections in April to nominate up to three candidates. According to an internal paper, a candidate “could legitimately claim in his or her election statement and other electioneering material that he or she was regarded by the council as a credible candidate for election”.

The plan, revealed in The Lawyer last week, is seen by some as an attempt to encourage a challenge to Bahl. Chairwoman of the Equal Opportunities Commission, Bahl declared her candidacy for the deputy vice-presidency before Christmas. But some believe it would be healthy if another candidate stepped forward.

One leading council member told The Lawyer that Bahl – an unelected member of the council who represents employed solicitors – was not sufficiently representative of the profession.

He suggested that Michael Napier, senior partner at Irwin Mitchell and former president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, would stand.

Napier is widely believed to be planning a presidential bid at some stage in the future, though he has yet to comment on it publicly.

The plan to revert to a version of the old system for electing leaders has angered Robert Sayer, vice-president of the Law Society and a supporter of Bahl. However, a proposal to only allow “official” candidates to stand for election has been dropped.