The non-lawyer who united Chancery Lane

THE NEW head of the Law Society's bureaucracy has broken two of its long standing taboos before even setting foot in Chancery Lane.

Jane Betts, who becomes secretary general on 1 August, is both the first woman and the first non-lawyer to hold the post.

A further feature of her appointment, revealed last Thursday, is the rare moment of unity it has fostered at Chancery Lane.

Warmly welcoming the appointment of the former secretary of the British Postgraduate Medical Federation, Law Society president Martin Mears said he was sure he and his deputy Robert Sayer could work “harmoniously” with her.

Former president Charles Elly, who headed the search committee assigned the job of finding a new secretary general, said: “Having someone coming in from the outside could prove refreshing.

“You certainly don't need to be a lawyer to think about the future of the profession.”

Betts, 42, has been secretary to the BPMF, the largest college of medical research and postgraduate medical education in Europe, since 1988.

But one of her last tasks has been overseeing its demise – the federation was disbanded this Monday and its functions passed over to a new body.

She said her experience as a professional manager would prove valuable “in helping the society to move forward”.

The man she is succeeding, John Hayes, leaves his post at the end of May.