The Law Society’s president has pledged to press on with a controversial overhaul of the organisation’s governance structure following last week’s shock resignation of chief executive Catherine Dixon.
Robert Bourns said it is important Chancery Lane continues with the now year-old review, after Dixon told its 100-strong ruling council she ‘cannot in good faith continue to be CEO of an organisation which is not prepared to change’.
Bourns said: ‘It is important that we press on with changes in order to take the organisation and the profession forward. I aim to use the rest of my presidency to help drive the next stage of the review and propose further changes.’
The Society began its review of governance, initially headed by Dr Nicola Nicholls, a former private equity executive, a year ago. Her report’s proposals included a smaller elected council, cutting terms to six years and establishing a smaller main board to take most governance decisions.
Last October, the Society agreed to establish a main board whose first task would be to review the form and function of other boards and make recommendations to council for further reforms.
But Dixon cited decisions to vote against limiting terms and, ‘critically’, not to begin implementing a new main board until council seats have been reviewed, as key reasons for her resignation.
In a letter to this week’s Gazette, Christopher Digby-Bell, one of five council members representing the City of London, accused some of the ruling body’s members of ‘dragging their feet’ on much-needed reform for fear of ‘losing their jobs/influence’.
‘It is a case of turkeys not being ready to vote for Christmas,’ he says.
The Society will announce plans for recruiting a new CEO in due course, Bourns said, and ‘in the meantime will focus with Catherine on the substantial work in progress’.