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The brand looks like ‘Law Society Lite’ - June-28-12
Source: The Times - Law
New Law Society council member Christopher Digby-Bell presents his vision for the future of the organisation
David McIntosh, the last of the old brigade of Law Society leaders, is leaving the ruling council after 16 years of loyal service, including a stint as president in 2001/ 2002. As he leaves, I shall be arriving to take his place as a council member representing the interests of the 23,000 lawyers practising in the City of London, the powerhouse of the profession.
McIntosh will be a hard act to follow. He has reigned over a time that has seen solicitors’ practices transform from the old traditional professional model to a modern business. It’s been a period of intense change which has seen the Law Society running to keep up.
The problem is that, in its representative role, the Law Society tends to be viewed as travelling in the slow lane at a time when legal life is flashing past at speed with alternative business structures (ABS), Tesco/Co-op law, the opening up of new overseas markets, increasing numbers of women lawyers being thwarted in their attempts to reach the top and stay there and new entrants struggling to secure a foothold in the profession.
The Law Society business model needs refreshing – there is nothing fundamentally wrong with it, but the brand looks like “Law Society Lite”. It’s just too mild. Too Coldplay. So Chicken Korma. Like an evening in with Dragon’s Den.
There is a whole new generation of lawyers under 40 out there who are the new leaders of their firms but who have little or no time for the Law Society which they regard as irrelevant and of no benefit to them or their careers. They are wrong. The Law Society can and should be a vibrant, relevant and progressive institution leading lawyers to the promised land of good service, an effective and fair justice system and a decent living.
Lawyers are important. They are the justice system. The City lawyers I represent transact over half of the business done in this country. As such, they are at the heart of the economy. Like it or not, we need them … and the Law Society should be up there with them as one of the nation’s leading institutions. That’s my vision for the future of the Law Society.
Of course, I owe much to McIntosh who once accused me of being a “maverick” and of not being supported by the mainstream of Law Society opinion. Ironically, I suspect that it is the maverick tag – and its suggestion of a rebel in the midst of Chancery Lane – that has caused more than two thousand lawyers in the City to vote me into office. The challenge for me now is to deliver. I owe it to those City lawyers. I owe it to McIntosh.
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