Mears undertakes to clarify official and personal views

MARTIN Mears has promised to stress the personal nature of his opinions when they are not in line with Law Society policy after his solicitors' conference speech attacking what he called the “discrimination industry”.

The pledge was in a response to a question tabled at Thursday's council meeting by Michael Napier, president of the Association of Personal Injuries Lawyer, calling on the president to make it clear when he was speaking for himself.

It co-incides with moves by both the Society of Black Lawyers and the Young Women Lawyers (YWL) group to put pressure on him to change his views.

Both groups have released correspondence with Mears. In a letter to YWL written in July, Mears said his wife, a personal injury solicitor, had never experienced discrimination.

He added: “You may not like it, but I think it is a fact that many women solicitors do, in fact, put their families before their careers.”

In a letter to the Society of Black Lawyers in August, Mears accepted that a “prima facie” case was made for the existence of discrimination by a Policy Studies Institute report.

But he added: “Quotas, targets, 'affirmative action' etc are all ultimately counterproductive.”

He concluded: “I have to say that I think you do your cause no good whatsoever by constantly crying racism.”

In a joint statement issued last week Clare McGlynn and Caroline Graham, of the YWL, accused Mears of exhibiting “an astonishing degree of complacency and ignorance of the facts”.

They called on him to “take concerted action to promote equality of opportunity for all members of the profession”.

In last week's issue of The Lawyer Lord Lester QC, a founder of the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Commission for Racial Equality accused Mears of “ignorant demagoguery”.