Solicitors have voted in favour of changes to the make-up of Law Society council and limits on how long members can sit on it, although only 6% of the profession took part in the ballot.
The votes followed a divided Law Society AGM in October, at which both motions were approved, but opponents only needed 20 solicitors present to call for postal ballots.
These were held online and cost around £30,000.
Just 12,207 of the 200,446 of eligible members voted, with 83% supporting the motion to reshape the 100 seats on the council, with fewer seats going to geographical areas and more for those representing practice areas and ‘characteristics’, so as to better reflect the demographics of the profession.
The motion to limit council members’ tenures to 12 years – which the council itself voted against earlier last year – was backed by 77% of members.
There are 23 members of council who have served more than 12 years, but they will be allowed to complete their existing terms. Current president David Greene is one who will have to leave when his term is up – he has held the international practice seat since 2006.
Others include former presidents Christina Blacklaws, Lucy Scott Moncrieff, Carolyn Kirby, Linda Lee and Nick Fluck.
Mr Greene said: “Clearly this may be disappointing news for those council members who have given long and loyal service representing their constituencies who will become ineligible to stand again.
“Whilst the effect of this decision will be that we will lose their knowledge and experience on council, there are many ways in which individuals can contribute to the work of the Law Society and we hope they will pursue those opportunities.
“It is important to remember, however, that term limits are commonplace among governing bodies.”
He described the reduction in the number of geographical constituencies as an effort to make the council “more representative of the modern diverse profession”.
Writing on Twitter, Melinda Giles, who represents the society’s private client section and proposed the term limits at the AGM, said: “This is great news for the profession – thank you to all solicitors who worked hard to bring about these reforms and who voted to support their introduction.”