Reform of the Law society council – you decide

The Law Society

On the 14th October the Law Society AGM finally was able to consider the proposals to reform the Law Society Council. This was one of the final steps along the road of a governance review that has been running effectively since 2016 .

We have already seen a successful reorganisaiton of the management structure with a New Board charied by former President Robert Bourns together with two key committees MCC - Membership and Communications togehter with PRAC - Policy and Regulation .

We have a refocussed Management tier with our new Chief Executive Paul Tennant and now are devleoping a number of other supporting structures all focussed on the delivery of a member focussed organisation .

It is no accident that in the current coronavirus crisis that the strong voice of the Law Society has been heard in standing up for the profession and seeking to protect members as much as possible from the consequences of the virus . This was led by our Retiring President Simon Davis .

The final piece of the jigsaw was to be the reform of the Council itself . Few would disagree that changes are required , the difficulty that arises is what those changes ought to be and how we mix geographical seats , representation for key parts of the profession such as inhouse lawyers or local government together with vital special interests and characteristic groups .

The net result is that if one of these areas is to be increased other seats are likely to be lost and the proposal from the Council Membership Committee has achieved this by reducing geographical seats , which is not without controversy . Change always comes at a cost .

Fortunately in Yorkshire after strong support and representations we currently retain our 3 Yorkshire Seats + the Seperate Leeds Seat . Other areas are not so fortunate .

As well as considering the issue of seat allocation , there was considerable debate over a regional tier with the idea that this could bring together local law societies . This was never something particularly necessary for Yorkshire due to the success of the Yorkshire Union but clearly it may have been helpful for other Regions , however the Council rejected this proposal and it is now not for decision .

There was finally a proposal to limit the term of Council members to 12 years on the basis that it was percevied that it was good governance to do so . There are in fact competing arguments on both sides . This was a motion rejected by Council but members exercised their right to put it to the AGM .

The scene was set therefore for the AGM to consider the reforms reccomended by Council and also the resolution not supported by Council but advanced again over the 12 Year Limit .

In accordance with Law Society Rules it is possible for 20 members to call for a national poll rather than let the issue simply be determined by the limited pool attending an AGM . The AGM itself supported the proposals .

That vote of the whole membership has now been called and so it is now down to you all as members of the Society to cast your vote . We are sure you will recevie good guidance over the arguments on both sides and you can then exercise your vote .

When the time comes please use your vote , this is your law society council and is your opportuntiy to determine its direction of travel .

The time is right now to ask for your help to determine the future of the Council , because whatever the Council looks like after the poll it is clear we have a huge task ahead of us in these challenging times to support and defend the members of our great profession .

We can do this with a revitalised Society under the leadership of our New President David Greene .