This week, many lawyers will be pondering who to vote for in the forthcoming Law Society elections. The Lawyer has decided to pin its colours to the mast. For two of the posts the choice is not difficult – Michael Napier is our choice for the presidency and Kamlesh Bahl should be voted in as deputy vice-president.
Napier is one of the most experienced and respected personal injury practitioners in the country as well as being the senior partner of a successful firm, which, vitally, does a great deal of legal aid work. He also helped set up the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and led it successfully for two years. If the Government is going to listen to anybody as it goes about dismantling the legal aid system, it will be Michael Napier.
In our opinion Bahl is an equally clear choice for deputy vice-president. Not only does she represent employed lawyers, an important constituency, but she has become a national figure since she took over as chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission. Her election will boost the Law Society's public standing and send all the right messages about the profession's commitment to promoting the careers of women and those from ethnic minorities.
The most difficult choice is between David McIntosh and Robert Sayer for the vice-presidency. Although from starkly different backgrounds, they are actually quite similar. Both are political bruisers who are comfortable in the knock-about world of politics. There is no doubt that McIntosh would make a good vice-president, but, in our view, Robert Sayer scrapes it because he represents a vital and very disillusioned constituency, the high street.
That is why we believe the most imaginative vote would be for Napier, Sayer and Bahl. If they can work together – and that is a big if – they could be rather effective.