Law Society chief executive Des Hudson has today announced that he will retire from his role in July, after the society’s annual general meeting.
Mr Hudson joined the society as chief executive in September 2006 and has been under growing pressure in the wake of December’s special general meeting, at which members narrowly backed a motion of no-confidence in him and president Nick Fluck over their handling of the government’s criminal legal aid reforms.
There are now moves afoot to hold a second SGM.
Mr Hudson’s handling of the changes to personal injury in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 also came in for sustained criticism from affected solicitors, with calls for him to resign.
Mr Hudson, who turns 60 next year, said: “A year ago I took the decision to retire in 2014. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve the Law Society during this time of change for the legal profession and I look forward to continuing to do so until I depart.
“I would particularly like to thank my colleagues and our volunteer community within the society for the support and guidance they have given me over the years. I am indebted to them and proud of what we have achieved together.”
Mr Hudson’s pay has been a longstanding bone of contention for many solicitors. The most recent figures, from the society’s 2012-13 annual report, showed that in 2012, Mr Hudson saw his pay dip for the first time. He received salary and benefits of £340,000 and no pension contributions, having had £376,000 pay and £31,000 in pension contributions, a total of £407,000, the year before.
The 2007 accounts, Mr Hudson’s first full year as chief executive, had him on a package worth £230,726.
Mr Fluck said: “Des has delivered an outstanding service to the Law Society and has been a powerful advocate for the solicitors’ profession for eight years. He will be a tough act to follow. He has transformed the organisation during his tenure and provided a powerful and influential voice for our members. His contribution will benefit the society and our profession for many years to come.”
In a statement, Chancery Lane added: “Under his leadership, the society has developed to become an internationally renowned organisation that supports and represents its members around the world.
“Mr Hudson has strengthened the society by streamlining its management structure, introducing new technology and communication platforms, reforming pay and pension arrangements and boosting revenues generated from commercial activity to invest in member services.
“He has led numerous high profile campaigns including the introduction of a range of new initiatives to help to increase the quality of legal services provision in England and Wales and raise public awareness of solicitors’ expertise. These include the Law Society’s conveyancing quality scheme, risk and compliance service, and the wills and inheritance quality scheme.
“He has also promoted UK legal expertise overseas and helped Law Society members to access new markets.”