Sycamore aims to make legal profession 'fit for 21st century'

The Law Society needs to “tighten up its act” its president Phillip Sycamore has admitted, announcing a three-year review designed to make the society “more effective, more efficient and, above all, more relevant to those it serves”.

Addressing about 800 delegates at the Solicitors' Annual Conference in Cardiff last Friday, Sycamore's comments were in marked contrast to those of his predecessor, Tony Girling, made in July, when he launched a defiant defence of the Law Society's record in response to an assertion by The Lawyer that it was in crisis.

Sycamore referred to the need for the society to improve its performance and to end internal politics and bickering.

“Let's get real about making the profession fit for the 21st century, because we are deluding ourselves if we think we already are,” he said.

He said the profession needed to adapt to radical new markets and become less litigious.

Speaking before the Lord Chancellor Lord Irvine's announcement on slashing legal aid availability, Sycamore said the society was prepared to “think radically” in relation to any changes to legal aid and civil justice.

And in contrast to the Bar Council's staunch opposition to a public defender system, he said the society would not oppose a trial of a public defender pilot – if the scheme was well resourced, fair and independent.