Paul Gilbert blasts Law Soc democracy

Head of legal at Cheltenham & Gloucester building society, Paul Gilbert, has blasted the Law Society council for scrapping an in-house solicitor council seat – without even allowing the ditched member to speak.

The council's decision to replace local government member, Pauline McBride with a newly-qualified solicitor – a dramatic U-turn on its previous resolution just a month ago – was made after members, aware that lunchtime was upon them, agreed to vote on the issue without a proper debate.

Paul Gilbert, who is chairman of the Law Society's Commerce and Industry Group, says: “I think it's absolutely appalling. It's an indication that the council doesn't have a bloody clue what it's doing.”

He says the three office-holders seem to recognise the value of employed lawyers, but adds: “You have these dinosaurs that are so completely stupid it boggles my mind. It calls into question whether the council can represent the interests of employed lawyers.”

He adds: “There's a saying: It's better to be on the inside pissing out than on the outside pissing in. The council is just plain incontinent.”

Philip Thompson, head of the Law Society's Local Government Group, says: “We are absolutely outraged. The Law Society is not prepared to listen or take account of the views of employed solicitors which represent 20 per cent of the profession.”

Like Gilbert, he questions the Law Society's continued representation of the employed sector and adds it is “unlikely” that local government lawyers will now take part in the Disneyland national conference.

Richard Moorhead, Chairman of the Young Solicitors Group who made a plea for a newly-qualified seat at the last council meeting says: “We are pleased. This is a long overdue decision but one which sends positive signals to newly-qualified and trainee solicitors.”

Margaret Antsey, chairman of the Council Membership Committee which recommended the change says: “Young solicitors make up 52 per cent of practising certificate holders and must be given the chance to be heard.”