Time for a solution

The time has come for solicitors to lay their briefs on the table. Despite carping from the sidelines for the past six months about the current president of the Law Society Martin Mears, no contender has yet emerged as a potential challenger for the elections next summer.

Where are all the council members who are concerned by how their ambassadors are representing the profession? Indeed, are there any council members who could actually get elected in the circumstances? Martin Mears would argue the cries of pain emanating from Chancery Lane are simply a response to the breaking up of a monolithic organisation, a task which had to be tackled to respond to the criticisms of solicitors disillusioned with their governing body. However, others would say the antics at the Law Society are more like a soap opera than anything else.

Roger Smith, director of Legal Action, argued in this month's Legal Action magazine that the current protectionist approach of the Law Society risked everything it had achieved to date.

So is there a solution to the Law Society's ailments? And, if there is, does it lie with a change of president? It is time to look at the problem as a whole and not the various parties. A discontented electorate, a divided council and the disgruntled Chancery Lane staff all point to a need for a radical solution.

A solution in the best interests of the profession is one which must also have at its heart the best interests of the consumers of legal services. But are these two objectives achievable by one body?

It may be time to consider the option adopted by the medical profession in the 19th century, namely the formation of two separate bodies, one dealing with the regulatory aspects of the legal profession modelled on the General Medical Council, the other based on the British Medical Association which would look after the trade union aspects.

In the meantime, will the presidential candidates please stand up?