Law Soc gears up for reform debate

THE TABLES could be turned on Martin Mears this week as the man who has persistently described himself as radical tries to stem pressure for wholesale constitutional reform.

In a 'President's Paper' outlining his objectives for the year which is to be debated by the Law Society council on Thursday, the new president says major constitutional reform of the Law Society would be “premature”.

But two more papers advo-cating major reform will also be debated and Mears faces the prospect of council members seizing the reform agenda.

The president's key constitutional objective is to make John Hayes' successor as secretary general far less powerful.

But he appears keen to prevent a major overhaul of Chancery Lane from diverting energy away from his own policy agenda.

The alternative papers are written by council member David Thomas and a group of staff called the Ginger Group, set up by Hayes in 1989. Thomas stressed his was written before the election and not to upstage Mears.

Both papers foresee a continued role for the secretary general. The Ginger Group wants Hayes' replacement to be the “most influential person within the Law Society”.

But Mears told The Lawyer: “A more powerful secretary general? Over my dead body.”

He said reform should be delayed for a year after the success or failure of his own term could be assessed.

The council will also vote on two motions, one calling for a timetable for reform, the other for an activity audit working party chaired by the treasurer to carry out an audit of the society's functions.