THE LAW Society could face its first contested presidential election for decades following a council member's announcement that he is considering a challenge to president elect John Young.
Council member Martin Mears, senior partner with Mears Hobbs & Durrant, has threatened to break with years of tradition by standing against Young, the current deputy president. He makes his decision this week.
Young, a partner at Cameron Markby Hewitt, says such a move could damage the Law Society's credibility and risk the elevation of an inexperienced candidate to the role. "I slightly doubt it will happen and I don't want to build it up," he says.
To force a postal ballot of all the Law Society's members before the AGM Mears needs only to be nominated by two fellow solicitors. The deadline is 31 May.
"I would be running as an outsider but if I did stand I would campaign vigorously and I don't think anyone would regard me as a non-starter," says Mears.
Mears' fellow council member Robert Sayer, senior partner at Sayer Moore & Co, is considering running for vice president on a joint platform.
Since the early 1950s, the election of presidents has been confined to the Law Society Council which each year chooses the deputy vice president who is then automatically elevated to the presidency after two years.
Before his election to the council last year Mears warned he would not join "the Chancery Lane consensus".
One Mears supporter, Nicholas Oglethorpe, of Clapham & Collinge and a former society adjudication and appeals committee member, urges Mears to stand.
Describing the current election system as undemocratic, he identifies the expense of the Law Society and the Solicitors' Complaints Bureau as likely targets for Mears.