Law Society pushes ahead with governance reforms

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7 June 2016

Law Society

Law Society: committed to change of some kind

The Law Society has said it is making progress in its overhaul of governance, after its ruling council agreed that work should be done to “develop suggestions for change in more detail”.

However, it is unclear the extent to which council members agreed at last month’s meetings to the specific proposals put to them in a paper by the society’s governance review working group.

The working group, led by independent expert Dr Nicola Nicholls, recommended the transfer of many of the council’s powers to a new board, chaired by a solicitor, with no more than 12 members.

Under the plans, a “significant majority” of board members would be solicitors, but there would also be salaried lay members, recruited because of their “particular skills”.

The working also proposed that the society’s council should meet only four times a year, and its members should be subject to a maximum of either two or three four-year terms. The council should itself launch a review of the current constituencies, a mix of regional areas and specialist groups.

The paper made it clear that members of the working party rejected some of the more radical proposals contained in an initial report by Ms Nicholls.

Among them was her recommendation that the role of deputy vice-president be abolished, along with “specific changes” to the composition of council, which she wanted to be smaller and more representative of in-house, young and City solicitors.

The working group said in the paper that if the council backed the changes, those involving amendments to the general regulations could be brought before July’s council meeting, while those involving amendments to the bye-laws could go before the society’s July AGM.

A spokesman for the society said its strategy agreed last year included a review of the society’s governance and the council had taken a further step in considering proposals for change last month.

However, he did not comment on any specific proposals agreed at last month’s meeting.

Law Society vice-president Robert Bourns said: “We had wide ranging discussions at council as a further step in the review process.

“Work will now be done to develop suggestions for change in more detail. The working group is keen to hear from members as we develop proposals.”

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