PREDICTIONS that Law Society infighting will lead to an exodus of senior staff are beginning to bear fruit with news of a top official's impending departure.
Andrew Lockley, director of corporate and regional affairs at the society, is to leave Chancery Lane on 1 May to take up jobs at both Irwin Mitchell and the University of Sheffield.
With secretary general John Hayes leaving at the end of May and other senior staff privately fuming at the insults which president Martin Mears and his deputy Robert Sayer have periodically hurled at them, the Law Society is facing a clearout of senior figures.
It is symptomatic of the climate at Chancery Lane that Lockley is likely to be best remembered for his role in the running battle between Mears and the higher echelons of the bureaucracy.
He has, however, served the Law Society in various capacities for the past 14 years.
He co-ordinated the first National Conveyancing Protocol, which standardised conveyancing practice in England and Wales, and played a key role in the development of practice management standards.
More recently he has been in charge of the society's public relations.
It was in that role that he clashed with Mears when he circulated an internal memo to the Press in a bid to refute the president's public claims that a staff member had disobeyed orders.
The decision enfuriated Mears, but won Lockely admiration from Law Society staff, who felt they were being unfairly treated.
Commenting on his departure, Mears said: "We have had our differences, but none of them detract form his outstanding contribution."
Lockely said that he had been considering the move "for some months" and it would be a wrench to leave "after 14 extraordinarily stimulating years".
At Irwin Mithchell, Lockley will head the firm's professional services unit, which provides contentious and non-contentious advice to professionals, many of whom are lawyers.
At Sheffield he will be involved in legal training schemes.