Martin, please don't stand for president
29 April 1997
29 April 1997
7 January 1997
23 June 1998
24 June 1997
26 May 1998
I address this open letter to you through the columns of The Lawyer in circumstances where, although you are willing to publish it in the next edition of Caterpillar, the magazine you edit, it would come out after you had decided whether or not to run for presidency of the Law Society.
Despite your repeated assertion that I support the "old guard" at Chancery Lane, you have caused me no personal offence for I can see your sense of humour shining through.
Indeed, I have a lot to thank you for. It was your challenge to the "old guard" (who had rendered me apathetic regarding the Law Society) and then your throwing away of the immediate chance of constructive reform through your admitted and other mistakes (which caused even more hostility than your challenge itself) that motivated me to stand for election to the Council.
Like most, if not all, council members I am nobody's blind follower. My support for the coalition approach of the Sycamore/Mathews/Sayer leadership ticket is pragmatic, but does not require hostility towards you, or anybody else for that matter.
You will perpetuate the same kind of mistakes to which you have already admitted if you continue to categorise as enemies those who do not agree with you lock stock and barrel. You will also be mistaken if you assume that our profession is in favour of a permanent opposition, in the style of Parliament or local councils, at Chancery Lane.
Other professional bodies and trade associations succeed without constant adversarial "ya-boo" bipartisan politics, and over the past two years, we have lost some public esteem to the advantage of, in particular, the Bar, as a result of this difference.
Robert Sayer, who until recently seemed to be in joint leadership with you of the Law Society's unofficial opposition, has now realised that a non-political approach towards reforming Chancery Lane is required. He, alongside both Sycamore and Mathews, has realised that the best way forward is to combine in pursuing positive ideas and policies for the promotion of the whole of our profession's long-term interests.
You too should consider the benefits of burying the hatchet and concentrating your undoubted energy on supporting constructive ideas regarding: MDPs; the challenge of the Woolf "fast track" fixed-price litigation; improving education and training of solicitors; promoting solicitors' services in conveyancing, property selling, financial services; re-engineering high street legal ser- vices so that they become more popular and profitable; helping small firms embrace IT; and reducing our SIF and Compensation Fund contributions without losing the security of the former and our reputation for not defaulting. And what about some positive ideas for the future of the profession?
These are the issues of tomorrow, with which Sycamore, Mathews and Sayer, and the rest of us, ought to be undivertedly grappling on behalf of all solicitors.
Martin, please come in from your hankering after another go at the Presidency. Support Robert Sayer for seeing the light that the coalition approach will provide.
Do not run the risk of being blamed for undermining a good idea before it has a chance to flourish.
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