Taking the Mickey?

In the press release announcing EuroDisney as a venue for the Law Society's Annual Conference 1999, Barbara Cahalane, director of communications, said: "It will enable the Law Society to organise a serious conference which will also be great fun."

This venue may have advantages but there are many disadvantages, Of the four "innovations" by the Law Society for this year's conference in Bournemouth, three – reductions for young lawyers, single-day rates and special reductions for trainees and part-timers – will be of little value in 1999 unless it is proposed to subsidise travel and accommodation costs for those people.

But it is the perception of the press and public which is important. Mark Stephens (the 1999 conference chair) may call it a "festival of law", but this venue shouts "junket" and "jolly". Whatever may be the reality, the connection made by the press and others between "fat cats" and legal aid means that lawyers on a junket for their annual conference is a gift for every journalist who wants to be negative about solicitors.

The chief executive of a major conference and exhibition business has said that it is unlikely he would recommend this type of venue for an organisation with a public profile who wanted to use part of the conference as a platform to influence public opinion and government.

The Lawyer reports Robert Sayer (newly-elected vice president of the Law Society) as saying that he suggested the venue as a joke at last year's "incredibly boring" conference in Cardiff.

Perhaps I am being incredibly boring, but will the profession treat as "great fun" reports of our "serious conference" under headlines such as "Fat cats go to play with Mickey"?

Arthur Mullinger

Mullinger Bank, London