Winning back the client's trust

The new presidential team at Chancery Lane has Martin Mears to thank for, hopefully, burying the previous 'Buggin's turn' approach to the Law Society's highest offices and for the chance to take some of the opportunities which he spurned.

Mears has constantly blamed the "old guard" still at the Law Society for his failure to deliver on many promises and yet he has been replaced by Tony Girling, its longest serving council member.

Both Mears and Girling have criticised, with plenty of help from the sidelines, what they believe each other stands for, and it is unrealistic in the light of Mears' declared intention to stand again next year to expect harmony to break out between them and their close supporters.

Nevertheless, provided the new presidential team demonstrates surer and more diplomatic hands on the Law Society's tiller, there is every prospect of the profession regaining the public esteem it lost during what has been one of the worst years in its history.

The society can now stop behaving like a trade union and refrain from offering solicitors in private practice the undeliverable. Instead it can concentrate on putting clients' (which means the public's) interests first in all of its professional debates and in lobbying the Government and others who propose changes in the law and practice.

The championing of the interests of clients, who are the lifeblood of our profession, is the only way for the society to regain the confidence of the law makers and administrators who should be seen as potential friends.

The only sensible way forward is to accept that times have changed and that the profession must change with them. We must find ways of providing what our clientele – whether individual and local, or corporate and international – require of us in an open "value for money" way.

It was the absence of this emphasis which caused me to stand for election. As a new council member, I look forward to beginning my four-year term willing to work with our new leaders in:

demonstrating to the profession why a "winning for clients" approach is in the best interests of the profession;

building a truly representative Law Society which can retain the confidence of the Government and the Opposition, consumer interest groups and the public;

accepting that times really have changed and that lawyers are not owed a living, and that unless we increase the public's use of legal services the profession can only fight over a shrinking market. Lawyers are not a protected species.

I want to be part of a Law Society which highlights the worth of solicitors in providing access to justice; in championing our clients' causes; and in contributing to the well-being of society as a whole.

In these and other respects I want a Law Society that can raise the public's expectations of our profession and which can help the profession meet these expectations. By regaining the public's trust we will build upon the business available to us.

If the public truly believes us when we say – and demonstrate – that our clients come first then the position of the profession and its members will be enhanced. The Law Society will have "won for clients" and served the profession well.