The Leader Column

Last week, the Bar Council released the results of a survey conducted in association with the Law Society on the public's view of jury trials.
“Public backing for jury trial 'rock solid',” roared the press release, proclaiming “overwhelming” public support for the Bar Council's attack on the Government's plan to remove jury trials in “either-way” offences.
A little late, perhaps – the indication a full week earlier had been that the Government was already planning to back down over the proposals. Nevertheless, the Bar Council has been rather astute of late in canvassing and orchestrating public support for its attacks – of dubious motivation – on Government reform of the legal profession.
So, it's been able to hoodwink the Government and enough of the public into believing the Bar Council is only acting in the best interests of justice, but what of the very people it is supposed to be representing?
Clearly, it failed to canvass any reasoned opinion from its members prior to its ridiculous attack on the OFT report, let alone as to what the profession thought of its latest attempt to produce a coordinated pupillage recruitment scheme (OLPAS), or indeed BarMark (of which surprisingly little has been heard in recent months). Then, of course, there is the employed bar which – despite being a genuine part of the Bar Council's constituency as well as a potential source of work for many of its other members – has had to fight tooth and nail for many years to gain even the faintest formal recognition.
Given that the bar generally seems to follow the fading path laid down by solicitors 10 years earlier – albeit not always with total justification – would it not be sensible to take note of the appalling reputation their colleagues at the Law Society now suffer at the hands of the very people it is supposed to represent?
It would certainly be surprising if the Bar Council manages to keep the wool over the eyes of its own profession forever. Perhaps it would be worth conducting a confidential survey of all barristers as to their genuine view of the Bar Council: is it a truly representative body working for the greater good of the profession and of justice, or is it an archaic self-interested institution with its head in the sand, failing its members and the legal profession as a whole? Answers on a postcard please.