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New chair of Legal Services Board named 14 months after last one left

Phillips: Five-year term

The Legal Services Board (LSB) finally has a permanent chair after Dr Helen Phillips was given an unprecedented five-year term.

Dr Phillips has held the role on an interim basis [1] since May 2017, when Sir Michael Pitt’s three-year term came to an end and he chose not to reapply for another [2].

All terms have to date been three years, but Dr Phillips has been appointed until 31 March 2023, longer even than the four years for which the role was advertised.

The chair receives a non-pensionable remuneration of £63,000 per annum for a commitment of at least 70 days a year.

There has been no explanation as to why it has taken so long to appoint a permanent chair. In the meantime, Dr Phillips was reappointed as a lay member of the LSB on 1 May, again for five years. Board members, like the chair, usually have three-year terms.

Dr Phillips first joined the LSB in 2015. She has also chaired the Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust since 2015, during which time its Care Quality Commission rating has gone from ‘Requires improvement’ to ‘Good’.

She is also a director at The Mount Trust, an independent boarding school, and an advisory board member at Sheffield Business School.

From 2012, Dr Phillips was board director of Yorkshire Water with responsibility for customer services and networks.

Prior to that her career as a regulator was as founding chief executive and board member of Natural England from 2006, and before that as director Wales of the Environment Agency.

Meanwhile, another interim appointment has been made permanent, with the Law Society naming Paul Tennant as its chief executive.

Mr Tennant – who has had almost no public profile since taking on the role in February 2017 – came into the organisation following Catherine Dixon’s dramatic resignation the previous month [3].

He has worked for various housing associations since 1982 and most recently was chief executive of Orbit Group. A past president of the Chartered Institute of Housing, he received an OBE for services to housing in 2016.

The post was advertised with a salary of up to £230,000, a bonus of up to 30% and a defined contribution pension scheme.

However, this marks a reduction on Ms Dixon’s pay packet. The Law Society’s annual report for the year to 31 October 2016 – its most recent – put her pay at £344,000, including a £29,000 pension contribution.

Robert Bourns, chair of the Law Society’s board, said: “Paul has a strong track record as CEO in another sector, building the business and its capacity for change.

“As interim he helped us introduce changes to governance while maintaining a focus on the value we deliver to our members, now and in the future.”