The intention of the proposed Law Society governance reforms is to improve the quality and effectiveness of decision-making by the Society.
The most obvious solution would be to reduce the size of the ruling council from its present 100 members to a more workable number that would make its operation less like herding cats. But it looks as though the Society does not have the stomach for the unenviable task of inviting many council members to fall on their swords. Turkeys do not vote for Christmas, after all.
So instead, the number of council members is likely to continue pretty much unchanged and a new board will be superimposed. The new main board will make the executive decisions to implement policy as determined by the council.
While the business world is calling for less regulation and more freedom, the Society is swimming against the tide and going for the addition of an extra layer of government. The simplicity of a smaller council would be replaced by more complication, more decision-makers and an enlarged system of governance.
Who wants big government these days?
But then lawyers have a tendency to make simple complicated.
Christopher Digby-Bell, council member, London W1
Law Society president Robert Bourns writes: ‘I would like to clarify decisions made on the Society’s governance review and next steps. At our October meeting we voted to introduce a main board and also agreed that its first task should be reviewing the work of other boards. We also agreed that we would not implement this until we have undertaken the broader review of council and agreed a new shape for it. I will be bringing next steps on this wider review back to council.
As Christopher Digby-Bell rightly says, the reforms are intended to improve the quality and effectiveness of decision-making, but we have yet to make all of the decisions, so I think it is too early to judge the outcome. The objective is to ensure council continues to represent a strong and dynamic profession.
As my online article in the Gazette last week pointed out, we have been engaging members so far and will continue to do so as we look at the wider review of the structure of council. All views are welcome to: firstname.lastname@example.org.