Lowe gets SCB consultancy

SOLICITORS Complaints Bureau head Veronica Lowe will still have some influence over the bureau's future despite her decision to resign at the end of the month.

Lowe will be working under secretary general John Hayes until she leaves the Law Society at the end of the year.

In a message to staff she revealed she had been asked by Hayes to start considering how the responses to the Law Society's Supervision of Solicitors consultation paper “can be assessed and taken forward”.

She is a strong advocate of the bureau's need for more independence in opposition to president Martin Mears' wish for it to be abolished.

Her departure from the bureau has been met with a string of tributes, but her achievements have been overshadowed by the increasingly bitter political wrangling over the future of complaints handling.

In recent weeks Lowe found herself caught in the middle of a bitter political row over the terms of her pay-off, worth more than £80,000, which Mears unsuccessfully attempted to block.

Earlier this year she told staff of her intention to resign next summer when she believed a non-lawyer would take over a reformed bureau.

But The Lawyer understands that both Lowe and the Law Society agreed it was better for her to leave sooner rather than later, despite the awkward timing of her departure mid-way through consultation over its future.

Her temporary replacement will be Martin O'Reilly, an assistant director at the bureau. The future of the bureau is due to be debated by the Law Society council in January.

Commenting on Lowe's tenure at the SCB, Hayes praised her “energy and determination in tackling difficult issues posed by self-regulation”.

Former Law Society president Tony Holland said: “I think she took over when the bureau was in a very low state. She reinvigorated and motivated the staff to create an organisation which has improved dramatically.”