Recent copies of The Lawyer have contained much comment on the challenge for the post of Law Society president. One council member reflected "it could herald the break up of the society" and even the president is quoted as saying it was "disappointing we are going to have the distraction of an election when there are so many things to be grappled with".
The fact such a challenge has not occurred before is irrelevant, especially as the society's rules do make such a provision. Members may not agree with what the all challengers reflect, but surely they should extend their wider professional democratic beliefs to their own society and support its own rules
The Royal Institute of British Architects experienced a similar presidential challenge to its council's nomination for the first time in 1980, and since that time there have been several more.
Far from breaking up the institute, the challenges led to a reconsideration of somewhat set ways, which, in addition to helping halt the institute's fragmentation, has led to an improved understanding of members' needs and priorities.
The forthcoming election would seem to offer a timely opportunity for the council and all members to engage in a constructive debate of issues. If they do, it can only be to the benefit of the profession and, in turn, the community.