Bar Council scorns LawSoc's call for a unified profession

THE Bar Council is dismissing Law Society president Robert Sayer's calls for a unified legal profession as “Mickey Mouse policies dreamt up in Disneyland”.

Sayer is calling for a unified profession within five years “with one code of conduct, one set of rules, one regulator”.

But his speech, given at the Solicitors' Law Festival in Disneyland, Paris, may divide the profession further.

Sayer also attacks the selection procedure for QCs and judges. Sayer says: “What we have at the moment is effectively a self-selecting, self-perpetuating cabal of middle class, white, male barristers.

“We live in a multicultural, multiracial and multifaceted society, yet we have a judiciary that is monochrome and one-dimensional.”

A Bar Council spokesman retorts: “The Law Society does not have a credible track record of self-regulation so the notion that it could oversee a unified profession – even if that were desirable – is frankly risible.”

He adds: “We want to see efforts made to promote more applications from ethnic minorities and women candidates and we await the outcome of Sir Leonard Peach's inquiry into appointments of judges and silks.”

The Lawyer understands some quarters of the Bar Council feel Sayer is trying to divert attention away from the Law Society's problems by attacking the bar.

The Law Society is currently boycotting the “secret soundings” system for the selection of QCs, in which it is given a list of suggested candidates to take silk and asked to give their opinions on them.