Law Soc needs to justify its existence

Solicitors have once again given the Law Society the thumbs-down. In a damning indictment, a survey of its members accuses the society of unhelpfulness, poor treatment of its members and of paying too little attention to the views and problems of the profession. It also gives its governing body nuls points for its promotion of the profession to the public at large.

The Law Society is prone to blaming the malaise on poor communication with its members. When nearly half of the solicitors in private practice do not know who the Law Society president is, this argument certainly has credence.

The society also argues that it is very busy working on behalf of the profession on many issues which will not necessarily come to the attention of its members. This is true, of course, but it is not the whole story or even a large part of it.

Blaming all disgruntlement on lack of communication and acknowledging that "we must do better to get our message across" is somewhat missing the point.

With most members feeling alienated and disenfranchised, and eight out of 10 private practice solicitors either describing the Law Society as unfriendly and unhelpful or having no opinion, the time has come for it to get in touch with itself, never mind its members. It may be uncomfortable to consider what its role actually is but this question urgently needs to be addressed.

How should it do this? The problem is that the Law Society is an unwieldy, bureaucratic machine which, while able to navel gaze, is totally incapable of vision.

However, the profession is certainly communicating its message loud and clear and the Law Society would do well to listen. That it has managed to do much worse, rather than any better, in the eight years since the last survey, is not a comforting thought for any member.