Down in Chancery Lane, the announcement of the election result has been greeted with a giant yawn. Once again, an election has led to the triumph of apathy and abstention. No, I am not talking about the general election, but the election for the vacant seat on the ruling council of the Law Society for the City of London constituency.`It was my first election contest since 1966, when I competed for a place as the drummer in my cousin's band, Fryin' Tonight. I won both contests, so what is a lawyer with a keen sense of rhythm doing in the Law Society?`Lawyers have never been 'top of the pops' to the public, but I did not realise how little respect there was for the society among lawyers themselves until a few years ago, when I witnessed the then society president Martin Mears being presented with an award for legal personality of the year only to be booed off stage.`Since then, many attempts have been made to improve the image of the society. The latest is current president Michael Napier's “radical programme of constitutional and governance reform”.`While most big businesses are concentrating their management into the hands of a few key players, Napier plans to increase the size of the ruling council to 125. So much for speedy and efficient decision-making. Only some 17,000 members from about 105,000 bothered to vote – somewhat undermining Napier's claim that “there is a genuine interest in the Law Society as a strong professional body”.`When someone asked Dolly Parton about her appearance, she replied: “It takes a lot of money to look this cheap.” The same can be applied to the society, which has invested much time and money in modernising only for the results to look stale and flat.`Faced with the challenge of bringing the society into the 21st century, it has decided on no more than a bit of plastic surgery. Five members of the public, one trainee and an LPC student will be allowed to sit on the ruling council. That's seven out of 125. Hardly a radical response to the Government's call for the society to be more open and accountable. Indeed, the changes have an air of political expediency about them rather than an enthusiastic attempt to forge a new relationship with the public.`Despite bringing in a bright new chief executive, Janet Paraskeva, the society still cannot balance its books. Expenditure was up last year by more than 10 per cent to £65m but income was only £61.1m, an overspend of a massive £3.9m. One reason for this is that the society has spent £1.5m in legal costs fighting its former vice-president Kamlesh Bahl at an employment tribunal. I know lawyers like suing people but it is a bit much when they start suing each other.`Just in case all this provokes you to stand for president, forget it. The latest move is that the society will elect its own by an electoral college system and the profession will no longer be able to vote on its own leader.`Once again, the profession's interest was less than overwhelming – only 8 per cent of members voted to abolish national elections and to disenfranchise the other 92 per cent of the membership.`What can I possibly do to change things? Well, for a start, it helps that I work in the real world. I am an in-house lawyer for a venture capital company which I also run as managing director. This makes me something of a rarity. Nearly all of the ruling council are solicitors in private practice.`Fundamentally, there are really only two kinds of lawyer: those who represent business and industry and those who don't. If the society is to regain its credibility in the legal profession, it has to embrace the City much more. The truth is that a City firm has more in common with a merchant bank than a provincial solicitors' office.`Big business needs big law firms which need a professional body which is big in its thinking and influence. The Law Society has made an unpromising start. As Dolly says, it really needs to be “Starting over again”.`Christopher Digby-Bell is managing and legal director of Palmer Capital Partners