As one of the people likened to a First World War General (“Lions led by Donkeys”), an “old fart” or “politically correct law firm drop out”, I would like to comment as follows.
If you follow the historical analogy, you are meant to think that I was a General sitting in well behind the front line in my chateau sipping champagne whilst the brave employees of the Law Society were sent to the front as cannon fodder.
In fact, this is an incorrect observation; the better analogy is with the Bolsheviks in the Russian Civil War. Law Society staff were like the soldiers Soviet. They had the whip hand and an incredibly nasty battery of tools to use against Generals who got out of line.
During the Russian Civil War a famous Tsarist General, Brusilov, was drafted in to assist the Bolsheviks. Needless to say he had to rigidly tow the Bolshevik line. Law Society staffs were always on the lookout for Brusilovs to fill the officeholder positions.
In this article a former senior Law Society official is quoted as saying the following:-
“The society’s never got its head round the fact that it’s lost its role as a regulator,” comments a former Chancery Lane senior official. “After the Clementi review it should have fought in the ditches to keep that position, but it compromised and failed in the end.”
Michael Garson, Linda Lee and a few people did fight this. They received no support from Law Society staff in this, quite the reverse. Lord Falconer, the then Lord Chancellor, was brought down to Chancery Lane to tell Council Members to vote for the change. Most did so. Perhaps Mr Ames would like to list, by name, the Law Society staff who sought to temper the then Chief Executive’s enthusiasm for this change.
Furthermore, There are also complaints about the LSA 2007 in this article as follows:-
“Indeed, regulating the solicitors’ profession lies at the heart of the Law Society’s identity crisis. To be fair, the legislation itself is considered to be far from ideal. Ironically, instead of -simplifying the regulatory maze ¬identified by Sir David Clementi in his 2004 report, the LSA has added even more mud to the water.”
No one would have thought that Law Society staff had input into the LSA, would they? But they did and if it is a mess then they are partly responsible.
As usual, there is also an attack is on the Law Society Council. As “a bloated retirement home for senior practitioners who have been put out to grass by their firms.”, even though Mr Ames knows that there is a wide age range on the council. He even revives the previous Chief Executives idea of slimming down the council. A small council would, of course, have been easier to control.
This article is all about an over mighty and barely accountable bureaucracy, namely the officials of the Law Society, suddenly realizing that the changes they have foisted on the profession are going to have a profound effect on them. These changes were “pushed” by Des Hudson’s predecessor and they have nothing to do with him.
Income is falling and the Law Society officials have to learn that they are not going to escape from the fate of the high street as a whole. Their jobs are at risk now and will be for the foreseeable future.
The days when they could behave like Mamelukes (Egyptian officials who tended to execute their leaders) are over. This article, centering on Des Hudson’s salary, is the last gasp of that tendency.
You won’t get rid of Des and things are not going to get easier for Law Society officials.
Finally, Mr Ames you should take note of some Council Members reluctance to hold practising certificates. This is not a sign that they are retired or has beens. It is a sign that they understand what is about to happen to this profession and they don’t want to be caught in the mess.
PS. I am neither an “old fart” nor a “politically correct law firm drop out”. I am someone who gave hours of my time free to try and stop the destruction of my profession. I cared about the future and I followed my principles. I did something instead of constantly moaning.