Governing a Fractious Profession
Governing a Fractious Profession
Abstract and Keywords
This chapter talks about governing a fractious profession. In order to perform their tasks — limiting numbers, selecting entrants, allocating roles, constraining competition, negotiating with third-party players, and regulating conduct — professions needed governing structures that could balance direct democracy and representative government, choose election rules, and organize staff. The two branches differed in both challenges and responses. The greatest pitfall of self-governance, however, was not tensions among fractions or between professional and public interest, oligarchy and democracy, but apathy. Most lawyers just wanted to earn a living and leave politics to others. The Bar Committee was a response to the Judicature Act 1873, which let solicitors to take work from barristers. The Campaign for the Bar was a response to solicitors' nonpayment of fees. Its proposed reforms drew an unprecedented 1,500 to the annual general meeting, but five years later, it failed to get even a quorum of sixty.
What it comes down to is that Chancery Lane knows what is best for us. [Solicitor objecting to separate representation of lenders and buyers]
You elected the members of the Council for their expertise and at the end of the day we must use our best judgment. [Charles Elly, LS President, replying]
[It is] disappointing that we are going to have the distraction of an election when there are so many things to be grappled with. [Elly rebuking Martin Mears for contesting the presidency for the first time in memory]
The idea of a democratic election being a distraction is one which you would not expect to find favour outside the old Politburo. … I intend to fight this campaign cleanly and leave the gutter for whoever wishes to play there. [Mears]
Who will rid us of these turbulent men? The joke played by the LS membership on its leadership has gone sour. … The Law Society is degenerating into a very public farce. [LAG on Mears and Robert Sayer]
We need another contested election like a hole in the head. … Law Society politics are the same as politics anywhere else. Petty, undignified, dominated by ambition. [Sayer, VP candidate, rebuking Michael Napier for challenging Michael Mathews for the presidency]
[David Keating is a] complete pillock [supported by] bitter, twisted little people [like Mears, who kept turning up] like a piece of dog turd on your shoe. [Sayer rebuking Keating for challenging him for the presidency]
In order to perform their essential tasks—limiting numbers, selecting entrants, allocating roles, constraining competition, negotiating with third-party payers, and regulating conduct—professions need governing structures that balance direct democracy and representative government, choose election rules, and organize staff. The two branches differed in both challenges and responses.
Nineteenth-century solicitors had to construct a national organization from scratch. The Society of Gentlemen Practisers, founded in 1739 to defend their monopolies and punish egregious misconduct, never enrolled more than 200 and had atrophied by the early nineteenth century. The Incorporated Law Society, established in 1825, had attracted only a quarter of the profession fifty years later. London solicitors were five times as likely (p.408) to join as others, who remained loyal to local societies, which created the rival Metropolitan and Provincial Law Association in 1847. Although this merged with the ILS in 1872, two years later the largest local societies created the Associated Provincial Law Societies. By the 1920s, however, provincial solicitors were proportionally represented in the Law Society, which enrolled 90 per cent of practising certificate holders by the 1950s.
In 1979 the seventy-member Council (fourteen co-opted) was seriously unrepresentative. Local law societies (of vastly unequal size) selected members, who typically served until retirement or resignation. In 1985 a single member under 35 represented the 37 per cent of young solicitors; one woman represented the approximately 25 per cent of women; seven employed lawyers (10 per cent) represented the 28 per cent employed; just three two-partner principals (4 per cent) represented the 16 per cent of such principals; and no one represented ethnic minorities or the 11 per cent in solo practice. Alternating the presidency between London and provincial solicitors acknowledged their differences. Only 2 per cent of member elections between 1945 and 1967 were contested, and just one vice-presidential, and there had been no presidential race ‘in living memory’. The increasingly divergent interests of solicitors engendered societies of women, ethnic minorities, trainees, and young solicitors; specialists in litigation, criminal, and family law; lawyers employed by local government and business; and those dependent on legal aid.
Dissatisfied solicitors who were young, provincial, or in smaller firms created the BLA in 1964, which attracted 10 per cent of the profession within two years (but then predictably declined). It called a Society SGM in 1984 to approve proxy voting at AGMs and then (unsuccessfully) sought to use proxies to secure nomination of officers by solicitors (rather than the Council), term limits and non-geographic constituencies. In response, the Council proposed to curtail democracy by eliminating postal ballots after an AGM and refusing to open meetings to solicitors (both defeated by postal ballots) and reduced members' terms from five years to four (not one, as the BLA urged). The Royal Commission rejected the BLA's proposal to become the solicitors' trade union and leave regulatory functions to the Society. It accepted the Society's own preference that membership remain voluntary. Its only recommendation (which the Society rejected) was regional groupings to implement Society policies.1
Lord Mackay's attack on restrictive practices and brake on rising legal aid expenditures intensified solicitors' dissatisfaction with the Society. The Cardiff society president complained that ‘every time there is a fight, the Law Society gives in’. An unanticipated budget deficit in 1991 provoked criticism of the ‘expensive’ bureaucracy. ‘We've got the Law Society into a nanny position’, complained a Council member, ‘and we can no longer afford it’. The New Law Journal asked ‘what great victories has it produced (p.409) for the profession in the last 10 years’ and speculated that the profession would ‘throw the bums out’. It joined local law societies in criticizing holding the annual conference in Brussels, just ‘a jolly for the president and officers of the Society’.2
In 1992 a highly critical staff ginger group proposed a structural review, calling the Council too large, ‘an inefficient and ineffective forum for policy-making’. But though the strategy committee agreed, the Council (unsurprisingly) did not. LAG pointed to a much more serious ‘democratic deficit’: the under representation of women, ethnic minority, and younger lawyers. Council member Kamlesh Bahl reiterated this a year later. The Solicitors Journal urged ‘regional representation and specialist representationand a number of co-opted members to ensure that the council reflects the make-up of the profession’. The Society was ‘out of touch, out of date and expensive’.3
Other divisions widened. In 1992, 58 per cent of solicitors felt the Society paid excessive attention to large firms and London firms and 40 per cent that it favoured sole practitioners. Half felt it did not fairly represent the entire profession. The Solicitors Journal criticized the Society for ‘over manning’ and spending ‘£17,400 on restoration of a table from the Old Council Chamber’. We ‘now have a sleek Mercedes of a Law Society for a profession that is only inclined to pay for a Golf’.4
Sole practitioners asked the Society to create a group for them. Arnold Rosen expressed the ‘widespread feeling that the Law Society exists to represent large firms and regulate the small ones’, against whom it ‘discriminated’ in negotiations over conveyancing panels and legal aid franchises. Vivian Stern attacked the proposal to inspect sole practitioners' books as a step toward ‘a Law Society police force’. After the Society allocated £2,500 for a mailing to the 3,500 sole practitioners, the newly-formed Sole Practitioners Group (SPG) reported that 95 per cent of respondents favoured a special interest group within the Society. Two Council members submitted a resolution to create one, but Secretary-General John Hayes resisted. ‘[M]ore than two-thirds of the casework and enquiries which the Law Society receives from the profession relate to smaller practices, [but] only about one-third of practising certificate fee income that comes from the profession in private practices comes from smaller practices’. Nevertheless, the Society recognized the SPG, which already had 500 members, promising it £10,000 a year and back-up support.
This did nothing to allay anxiety. A year later a survey found that firms with fewer than five partners feared the Society had a ‘hidden agenda’ to let market forces eliminate them. Another survey found ‘general dissatisfaction’ among employed solicitors, two-thirds of whom felt the Society paid too much attention to private practitioners. The LAPG chair said the Society ‘does not effectively represent those small firms which make up (p.410) 82% of solicitors' practices’. It ‘should be protecting us from not only its requirements but the requirements of accreditation and specialisation demanded by a number of agencies’. It ‘had to be prodded into any defence of [sic] the many attacks’ on ‘the work that provided the main sources of income—conveyancing and legal aid work’. ‘When it did campaign … it was too gentlemanly and low profile’. The Society responded by establishing a ‘services to the profession’ unit, costing the impact of all new regulations, planning sixteen ‘Meet the Law Society’ roadshows, and making DVP Henry Hodge a high-street firms Champion.5
When the Bar Council decided to pay its chair a High Court judge's salary, the Law Society paid its president the same and its VP and DVP 50 and 25 per cent of that. Council members held a closed debate about paying themselves. The YSG deplored such ‘insensitivity in the present climate’. The TSG condemned ‘talk of removing the little protection afforded to trainee solicitors by the minimum salary at a time when the firms of the senior office holders on the Council look set to coin it in’. A local law society emitted ‘howls of derision’. The LAPG, SPG, LAG, LCCSA, and AWS supported the proposal, but opponents called an SGM. Although it approved the measure, a 14, 715–6, 837 postal ballot cut the top pay by about half, to what a legal aid lawyer would earn from 1,000 hours of green form work. The mover claimed a victory for ‘the hard working legal aid solicitors’.6
The new SPG was riven from the start. Andrew Blencowe sought to disqualify Naomi Turl as vice-chair candidate (running with candidate for chair, Arnold Rosen) because she did not belong to the Law Society. Turl said the SPG had to choose between being a ‘Law Society poodle or an active lobbying force’. Blencowe retorted: ‘we can achieve more by working within the Society rather than being constantly in conflict with them’. Turl failed to enjoin an SPG extraordinary committee meeting, which barely confirmed her right to run (by 11 to 10). Her ticket won (she by just twenty-six votes out of nearly 1,300). The New Law Journal agreed with Stanley Best of the BLA that ‘there cannot be a true champion of the sole practitioner and small practice if he is in the maw of the Society’. Best wanted ‘the SPG to be strangled shortly after birth and the BLA to take over its role’. The following year SPG honourary secretary Fay Landau challenged the pair, writing to John Hayes: ‘I shall not give up until [Rosen] is removed’. The SPG committee (backed by Hayes) refused to circulate Rosen's Chair's address as part of the Group's 1995 AGM agenda. Hayes also refused to put on the Society's 1995 AGM agenda Rosen's no confidence motion in the high street firms Champion and proposal for a sole practitioner Directorate, insisting the latter was ‘inconsistent with our Charter’.7
Mears stirs the pot
(p.411) Martin Mears, a partner in a small Great Yarmouth firm, entered professional politics when his local law society asked him to edit its newsletter in 1993 and then ‘sacked’ him for writing ‘some mild and caring criticisms’ of Chancery Lane. When he lost ‘heavily’ to the official Council candidate, Mears ‘drew appropriate conclusions and established [his] own newsletter’, winning two-thirds of the vote in 1994. He promptly attacked the Society as ‘arrogant’, ‘extravagant’ and ‘inept’. It had not achieved ‘a single significant victory’. He wanted to reduce regulation and staffing and use the savings for a national advertising campaign to improve the profession's image. Calling himself ‘deeply reactionary’, he accused the ‘leftist’ Council of disregarding member views on ethnic minority recruitment targets. Its equal opportunities committee ‘are all very well known members of the liberal left establishment’. Anti-discrimination rules assumed solicitors were ‘racist’, but there was no discrimination within ‘our learned profession’. The ban on sexual orientation discrimination was ‘an insult to the profession’. What if a gay solicitor came to work with lipstick?
Soon after Mears's election the honourary auditor's report claimed that the SCF was potentially liable for £120 million, the Society had twice the staff per members as the Institute of Chartered Accountants and the Gazette lost £400,000 per year although Accountancy broke even. At his firstCouncil meeting Mears moved that a working party pursue these issues. ‘When you ask solicitors what they want from the Law Society the answer is much less of it.’ Expenditures had doubled in the previous six years, at which rate they would reach £100 million in the next six. Past president Holland denounced the motion as ‘misguided and misconceived’ and the attack as ‘a series of allegations and half truths’. Finance committee member Mike Howells commented: ‘Most members have a sense of humility and don't speak in council until they have something sensible to contribute’. Robert Winstanley condemned Mears's election manifesto for assailing the ‘voting fodder of the Chancery Lane consensus’. Eileen Pembridge asked how Mears ‘would know what goes on at the council? As far as I'm aware he's never been present at a meeting.’ John Hayes objected to ‘the Society being scapegoated for the problems caused by the recession’.
But another Council member warned ‘there are not just a few mavericks’. Mears and the auditor ‘touched on matters that are of acute concern to the profession’. Robert Sayer (a small-firm solicitor just elected from Central and South Middlesex) agreed ‘expenditure is going up inexorably year after year at a time when most firms' income is going down. The profession ought to know where the money is going and ought to know that they are getting value for it.’ The Council ‘appears to give priority to the interests of (p.412) people other than its own members’ by such ‘politically correct crap’ as extending remuneration certificates to probate beneficiaries and ‘encouraging the public to complain’. ‘[D]on't publicise’ the SCB. People ‘know how to complain and you don't what [sic] to be putting the idea into their heads all the time’. The Society's ‘primary duty is to solve the problem of low fees’ caused by ‘cut price conveyancing’ and ‘the erosion of proper legal aid fees’. The ‘ordinary high street practitioner has as much relationship to a reasonable-sized commercial firm as Wimpey the builder does to a jobbing contractor’. The New Law Journal thought Mears's ‘interesting debut’ had ‘fairly put the cat amongst the pigeons’.8
The Society's annual conference in London attracted 520 law society representatives and staff but only 340 paying delegates. When President Charles Elly rejected SPyG chair Leslie Dubow's proposal that the Society become ‘an exclusive self-serving pressure group’, Dubow said Elly did not understand the Law Society's ‘dual roles’ as representative and regulator. He accused it of ‘censoring’ his question about hiving off the SCB (like the General Medical Council)—‘another example of the undemocratic nature of the Society’. A few weeks later the SPyG launched a new association ‘dedicated to the interests of the high street conveyancer’ because the Society had ‘a complacent if not defeatist attitude’ toward their plight. Complaining about the ‘impossibly short time’ for consultation on proposals for a conveyancing standard, the SPyG accused the Society of treating solicitors like ‘silly little children to be told by “Mummy Law Society” what is best for them’. The Society's property and commercial services (PACS) committee chair called the SPyG press release ‘atrocious’. The SPyG retorted that a majority of solicitors opposed the kite mark. ‘If there ever was a conflict between the rulemakers and the ruled then this must be it.’9
At the first ‘Meet the Law Society’ event in Norwich one solicitor charged the SCB with ‘consuming ever greater proportions of our money for ever lower standards of performance’, and another accused staff of ‘nitwitedness’—comments the SCB Director found ‘extraordinarily offensive’. Mears dismissed the event as a ‘love-in’, which disguised solicitors' ‘burning anger’. At the second meeting a solicitor criticized the Society's embrace of separate conveyancing by lenders and buyers, which the SPyG had called ‘perverse’ and ‘contemptuous’. ‘What it comes down to is that Chancery Lane knows what is best for us’. Elly replied: ‘You elected the members of the Council for their expertise and at the end of the day we must use our best judgment’.10
In March, Mears and Pembridge both challenged VP John Young (the Council nominee) for the presidency—the first such contest in memory. Sayer joined Mears to fight DVP Henry Hodge (the Council nominee) for VP. Mears charged the Society with ‘defeatism or no-can-doism’. The battle against legal aid cuts ‘could have been won if years ago the Society had set (p.413) itself to root out abuses’. ‘A true strategy would … have foreseen years ago the excessive expansion of entrants into the profession and taken measures to prevent it.’ Like Clinton, he advised gay and lesbian solicitors ‘Just for God's sake keep it to yourself!’ Chancery Lane ‘insiders’ were ‘expert practitioners of cant and hypocrisy’. The SCB ‘promotes the idea that solicitors are … incompetent’. ‘Its very name encourages complainants to come forward.’ He would seek three terms and urged other ‘radicals’ to contest the fifteen vacant Council seats.
Pembridge championed legal aid and women but was not anti-establishment. ‘How do you propose to lead the profession if you are anti everything?’ Members had to choose between a ‘sticker’ (Young), a ‘wrecker’ (Mears), and a ‘shaker’ (herself). Young—City partner, SIF chair, and the longest-serving Council member—was expected to win easily. He urged members ‘to vote for those who have trained for the job and who have contributed to the profession over many years’. Hodge called Mears and Sayer ‘long on rhetoric and short on problems and solutions’.
Elly found it ‘disappointing that we are going to have the distraction of an election when there are so many things to be grappled with’. Mears retorted: ‘The idea of a democratic election being a distraction is one which you would not expect to find favour outside the old Politburo’. He was not ‘anti-homosexual’ just ‘anti-posturing’. Both the New Law Journal and the Solicitors Journal claimed that solicitors welcomed the contest. But theYSG called Mears ‘destructive rather than reformist’, and the Guardian assailed him as a ‘reactionary’ ‘right wing agitator’ with ‘deeply repugnant opinions’.11
At an April Law Society conference (strangely) entitled ‘The Woman Lawyer: benefit or burden?’ Pembridge challenged Elly to address sexual harassment at Chancery Lane, denouncing his ‘apparent hypocrisy’ in speaking against it but condoning a notorious case two years earlier. Women were ‘30 per cent of the profession and 54 per cent of new entrants’ but ‘grossly underrepresented in Council and at partnership level’.
Issues like part-time work, the glass ceiling, maternity leave for partners and women leaving it so late to have their children that they are spending their spare hours down the fertility clinics need to be brought to the fore.
The Solicitors Journal praised her for raising sexual harassment. Allegations against ‘a senior member of the Law Society Council have been circulating for a couple of years’. But they should be ‘an equal opportunities matter’ rather than ‘an election matter’.12 Young promptly withdrew from the race, admitting he had been the object of Pembridge's charges two years earlier. ‘While there was never a case where my conduct amounted to persistent harassment, it would be equally wrong to characterise what was being alleged as trivial.’ Pembridge had urged that he be asked to stand down as (p.414) DVP but was overruled and assured that the Society would create mechanisms for raising such charges. Nothing was done.
The New Law Journal praised Young for doing ‘exactly the right thing’, which ‘required a good deal of courage’. But it also reported ‘an Establishment backlash against [Pembridge] and considerable—and what some may see as misplaced—sympathy for Mr Young’. Mears brazenly capitalized on this. The ‘poor fellow’ had ‘paid dearly for his sins’, mere ‘indiscretions committed two years ago’, ‘belatedly … resurrected’ in a ‘vile and contemptible’ manner ‘worthy of the worst of the tabloids’. Mears would ‘fight this campaign cleanly and leave the gutter for whoever wishes to play there’. But the New Law Journal described ‘the full picture … a pattern of conduct involving a number of women going back 20 years and known throughout the Society’. ‘[S]enior Council members … turning a blind eye … call … into question their whole fitness to make decisions on behalf of the profession.’ Less than two months later a women guest accused Young of assaulting her in the library after a Council dinner.
The Council endorsed Hodge for president, John Aucott (senior partner of Edge 8c Ellison, a leading Birmingham firm, and eleven-year Council member) for VP, and Tony Girling (name partner of a twenty-three-lawyer Kent firm) for DVP. Holland urged a woman candidate to ‘balance the ticket’, which Bahl agreed would have ‘recognised the percentage of women in the profession’. Pembridge (who later claimed she had agreed to accept the VP nomination but was rebuffed by Hodge) proposed a dedicated Council seat for women; but three women members opposed it. Pembridge dismissed objections to positive discrimination as ‘stupid and outrageous’. Hodge was ‘compromised by being at the top of the greasy pole, too. He can't show that he would stand up fearlessly for or effect reform. …’ The ‘old boys’ have ‘put friendships above duty, served time, stayed in line’. ‘They have spoken with forked tongues, covered up when they shouldn't. …’ Mears and Sayer were guilty of ‘blatant demagoguery’ and ‘simply either don't know about the issues in depth or have decided to keep themselves in ignorance because of the risk of tainting’. She would not ‘woo votes with false promises’. ‘Clients will not pay more, they will not stop complaining if they have had a poor service, fees will not double, trainees will keep knocking at the door until the market finds its new level.’ But she wanted to cap SCF liability to corporate claimants and defend practitioners against ‘unreasonable demands made by bulk purchasers of legal services’.
Hodge's fifty-page manifesto proposed a 10 per cent cut in practising certificate fees, lower SIF contributions (proportioned to risk), and greater efficiency. Mears denounced Hodge as both ‘leftist’ and establishment—‘a Law Society Poo Bah for 11 years’, ‘Henry Hodge OBE’. During his tenure practising certificate fees had risen from £80 to £495 and the Society's (p.415) budget from £6.2 million to £48 million. There had been ‘no increase in legal aid rates for four years, the imposition of franchising and fixed fees [and] block grants on the horizon’. Hodge retorted: ‘The position we do not trumpet is that over the last five years the amount of money coming from the legal aid system into the profession has doubled’, and magistrates' court standard fees had been delayed four years. He wooed conveyancers with a ‘guideline fee structure’ and opposition to separate representation. The SCB should become a Law Society ‘agency’ targeting firms with poor complaints records. Aucott called himself a ‘moderniser. I believe that the law is a business and has to be run like a business.’ ‘I am not going to tell solicitors what they want to hear’ but ‘what they have to hear if they are to survive in the changed world in which we live’.
Mears wanted to dampen competition by ‘reducing the number of entrants into the profession’. He would rename the SCB ‘so it no longer serves as a beacon for the malcontent’ and charges ‘a refundable deposit’. Sayer declared it should be limited to ‘gross misconduct’ and not ‘impose higher standards on us than are reasonable in the real world’. He accused the Society of ‘years of inadequate campaigning’ for higher legal aid remuneration and allowing conveyancing firms ‘to compete to the point of destruction’. Both promised to cut SIF premiums by a third by charging an additional £100 for each conveyance. Sayer called Aucott a ‘Law Society functionary’ and assailed the Society for failing ‘to get off its backside and do something about the obvious problems affecting its members’. It had authorized 8,000 LPC places although there were only 3,500 traineeships. The Society should have ‘the guts to do something to bring supply back in line with demand’. He and Mears proposed cutting course places to 1,000 (the number leaving the profession annually). They offered the disaffected ‘their one choice to show how unhappy they are’. Holland said it was ‘impossible’ to ‘match supply with demand’. Aucott accused Sayer of pretending ‘he can recreate the past’.
In Soviet Russia they used to have a five year plan, where some bureaucrat decided how much of what the country would need. The inevitable result was chronic shortages of some things and over supply of others.13
Mears wanted the Society to assert control over the ‘schizophrenic’ SCB and its ‘tiresome’ independence. ‘There is no reason why the profession should be ashamed of dealing itself with complaints against its members.’ A ‘visitor’ should investigate the SCB regularly and ‘deal roughly’ with it ‘when necessary’. Hodge agreed it needed a ‘thorough and radical review’ but should not become ‘the Law Society's complaints department’. It was made independent in 1986 because of the ‘scandalous failure of the earlier self-regulatory system’. Pembridge dismissed some complaints as ‘a form of last-ditch discounting on bills’ and agreed that complainants should pay (p.416) ‘a modest deposit’, but Hodge called this impractical: ‘imagine how the Sun or the Telegraph will handle the case if a poor widow, badly treated by her solicitor, is unable to afford the complaint’. Mears and Sayer assailed the Society staff: natural wastage should cut their numbers and elected officials take a larger role; the Secretary-General should be ‘a competent administrator who will implement the policies of the elected representatives’. Pembridge called Mears an ‘objectionable candidate, with reactionary views and a wholly unproductive anti-Chancery Lane line’. Aucott dismissed his ‘populist message. You have to put the client first, not the solicitor. If you try to impose fixed fees or any restrictive practice the government will regulate us out of sight’.14
Hodge and Aucott posed the ‘stark choice’ between a profession with them or a trade association with Mears and Sayer, who ‘want to turn the clock back. 1984 seems to be their preferred year! They want us to be the only service business where the client comes second.’ Hodge warned against ‘a narrow-minded and inward looking protectionism … the creation of cartels or artificially inflating bills by charging overheads as a disbursement’. The solution to oversupply ‘is already in our hands. We let the training contracts. We have kept them steady for years now at just under 4,000.’ Mears would make solicitors look ‘foolish’. ‘[T]he public are more likely to laugh at us than like us.’ ‘Unlike my opponents’, Hodge claimed, ‘I have the backing of the Law Society Council and the respect of the staff’. ‘After five years on the Council [Pembridge] has not learned much more than Mr Mears about how to achieve change.’ A ‘vote for Pembridge is a vote for Mears’, who was only ‘interested in promoting himself’. A poll of thirty-five prominent non-Council solicitors, including the SPyG, SPG, Commerce and Industry Group, and YSG chairs, showed strong support for Hodge's ticket.
Pembridge was sceptical about raising conveyancing fees. ‘My firm tried it and failed.’ Mears and Sayer ‘unashamedly peddle simplified versions of the problems and then, like fairgrounds boothkeepers, provide you with a whizzo guaranteed patent remedy’. They ‘will sell you dreams’. Commercial firms ‘might simply declare UDI if they thought that the Boys' Own Annual were at the helm’.
Mears played on fears of overcrowding. ‘In the 1980s, manufacturing industry was left to market forces and we all know what happened to that.’ ‘Ten years ago, ours was the safest of occupations, with a guaranteed good income for life.’ ‘A client is entitled to sue his solicitor for negligence but he has no God given right to insist that his solicitor carries insurance.’ Chancery Lane was guilty of ‘bureaucracy, waste and extravagance’; it planned to open ‘a new regional office every year’ and ‘spend over £10 million on works to the headquarters’. Sayer accused the Society of being ‘afraid of upsetting the government, and consumer pressure groups’ and ‘too timid (p.417) and defeatist to stand up for ordinary solicitors’. ‘[I]f saving [the profession] means putting the profession's interest temporarily in front of clients I will do so and be proud of it.’ He defiantly told the SPyG: ‘We will not put up with crap from anyone who gets in our way. We will go over their heads for a profession-wide vote.’ Hodge retorted he would ‘not waste people's money by holding referenda’.15
Rumours of improper influence surfaced just before the vote tally. The Society establishment was said to have persuaded large-firm senior partners to urge subordinates to vote for Hodge and Aucott. Mark Sheldon denied this. But someone leaked a memo from Caryn Mackenzie of the City firm Field Fisher Waterhouse disparaging Mears as a sole practitioner (untrue) with ‘ideas which will not be to the best benefit of firms like ours’ and Pembridge as ‘running a legal aid/feminist agenda’. ‘[I]f you are not interested in voting could you please, at least, let me have your voting form so that we can put in a block vote.’ Mackenzie was proud her ‘reasonably contentious’ style ‘crank[ed] up interest’. Repeating charges that the thirty largest firms had been approached, the New Law Journal asked: ‘How is a young solicitor just making his or her way in the profession supposed to react to "advice" from the senior partner to vote for Mr Hodge?’ ‘Wake up Chancery Lane.’ This ‘dismissive attitude’ toward ‘rank and file’ had generated the contested election. The Law Society AGM urged the appointment of outside scrutineers, and the South London Law Society voted no confidence in the Society's ability to conduct an election.
Mears and Sayer called block voting ‘extremely disturbing’, asked Elly to condemn the memo, and assailed his refusal to appoint scrutineers. Pembridge's campaign was ‘investigating these and other suspected irregularities which cast doubt on the validity and integrity of the entire election’. The ‘old boys … treat the Law Society as a club for their exclusive use and the members as an inconvenience’. Hodge acknowledged approaching City firms but insisted ‘we have given no encouragement to block voting. I do not approve of it and I do not believe it has happened’. ‘It is a standard technique of those who are losing to challenge the good faith of the electoral system’.16
In her final statement Pembridge declared the present Council ‘unable to represent the profession as it is (youngish, employed, increasingly female)’ and Mears's proposals ‘either unlawful, impossible or plain daft’. He ‘cannot be taken seriously as a solution’. Hodge invoked ‘the support and confidence of the Law Society Council … we will be respected and taken seriously in Westminster and Whitehall and in the media’. Mears claimed ‘people don't like nudging from their local grandee’. He denied that ‘direct discrimination … really exists in our profession’; the only solution was ‘a quota system, which is illegal’. A black lawyer retorted that Mears ‘exacerbate[d] the problem of discrimination’.17
(p.418) Mears won a plurality (11,550 against 8,254 for Hodge and 3,515 for Pembridge), with a 36 per cent turnout. Sayer beat Aucott (12,384 to 9,987), and Girling was unopposed. Anthony Bogan, a Mears supporter, defeated eight-year incumbent Paul Marsh for the one contested Council seat. Mears was pugnacious: ‘It was possible for the council to ignore us before because we were in a minority of two. Now, though, we can hardly be ignored.’ He declared: ‘The council must assume that it is possible that the profession's view is the same as mine’ (although only 18 per cent of members voted for him). He hoped ‘to work very closely with Henry Hodge and Eileen Pembridge’ but warned against the ‘half a dozen irreconcilables’, including Holland, who had called the election ‘a disaster for the profession’. The BLA asked Council members who opposed Mears to stand down. Rosen declared: ‘The profession has voted against the status quo’ and delivered ‘a mandate for Martin Mears’. Although Sayer assured members ‘we have no intention of doing anything rash or daft’ he was still committed to reducing entry to 1,000.
Simon Baker, chair of the Society's training committee, responded that ‘no strategy of restrictive practices will ever win’. The CRE legal director was ‘extremely worried by [Mears's] lack of understanding of equality issues’. Pembridge criticized his opposition to a sexual harassment officer. Hodge warned that City firms were considering leaving the Society. An Allen & Overy partner said Mears's agenda was not ‘relevant to a business of an international nature’. LAG called Mears ‘rough, rebellious and wrong’. His ‘misreading of the relative power of the profession and the state’ was ‘dangerous’. Editorializing that ‘the Barbarians enter the gates’, the New Law Journal reported ‘rumours that senior members of the staff of the Law Society would welcome the opportunity to have their contracts terminated if proper compensation was on offer’. A Council-endorsed challenge to Mears next year would ‘be entertaining beyond measure for the spectator and disastrous beyond measure for the profession’.18
At the Society AGM two weeks later Mears called Pembridge ‘the most dangerous feminist in England’. She was not amused when he praised her ‘indomitable energy, courage and sincerity’, adding she had fought ‘like a man’. He was proud to be called ‘the most dangerous lawyer in England … a cross between Enoch Powell and Tony Benn’. Mears denied any ‘conflict of interest whatever between the true interest of the profession and the true interest of the public. All but the most demented consumerists realise’ that ‘the inevitable result’ of unrestrained competition ‘must be a fall in the standard of service to the client’. The AGM passed his resolutions to create working parties to reduce the number of solicitors and the cost of indemnity insurance and to improve the profession's image. A Hodge supporter declared that ‘the bare faced cheek of the rebel candidate is reappearing in an agenda which is suddenly looking empty and bereft of the radicalism promised’.19
(p.419) Holland resigned from the Council, declaring ‘no confidence in the ability of either Mears or Sayer’. Mears had asked him for a period of silence. ‘Having raised Cain about his Council colleagues and rubbished their efforts … he can hardly expect now a respectful silence.’ Mears ridiculed Holland for labouring ‘under the appealing but erroneous delusion that the eyes of the world are upon him’. ‘Since my election I have received nothing but good wishes and promises of support from my Council colleagues.’20
Mears's first presidential column charged that the Council's ‘insouciance’ in disregarding ‘plummeting’ conveyancing fees and ‘collapsing’ high-street practices had ‘enraged the profession’. He wanted to re-establish ‘an enforceable fee scale for domestic conveyancing’ and the profession's ‘right to control the number of new entrants and trainees’, ‘see off’ the legal aid Green Paper, reorganize the SCB (omitting the word complaints) and ‘confront the public's negative perception of lawyers … through a carefully thought out advertising campaign’.21
But his first target was Chancery Lane. When Hayes's ten-year contract expired at the end of 1996 Mears wanted to strip the next Secretary-General of ‘the kind of security of tenure enjoyed by the present incumbent’ to make clear ‘he is subordinate to and responsible to the President’. Staff should report to the Council and officers rather than the ‘over mighty’ Secretary-General. The finance committee should offer senior staff severance packages to help ‘the elected representatives to gain control over the organisation’. Hayes resented Mears's accusation that he had ‘brought the profession to its knees’ and ‘wasted Council assets’. But less than five months after the election he resigned with effect from the next June. Although past presidents Pannone, Holland, and Sheldon praised Hayes, Rosen said he left ‘a legacy of unpopularity of the administration by the profession’ and blamed him for the growth of the ‘colossal regulatory arm’.22
At its next meeting the Council adopted without debate (over Mears's sole vote) a proposal to explore constitutional reforms, including a Council-elected policy committee and specialist sections in place of presidentially-appointed committees and groups. Mears complained that removing him as chair of the strategy committee and Council meetings would ‘strip the leader of substantial authority and functions and leave him as a ceremonial figurehead’. Specialist sections resembled ‘the Francoist corporate state’. The proposals' ‘interesting’ timing showed ‘the gaping disparity between the Law Society's concerns … and the profession's’.23
Mears told the October annual conference he would seek re-election without endorsement by the Council, which he feared was planning ‘to reject each proposal impartially’. If it did, he urged the profession ‘to take its revenge … if your sitting member is really [not] a supporter of the reform programme … I hope his seat will be contested’. He wrote to every Council member, demanding support. ‘Mutual affability is not enough. (p.420) There must be agreement about policy.’ Rosen had begun to organize a list of reform candidates for the 1996 election, whose platform would be ‘a lack of confidence in what has been achieved by a Council that defers to the Secretary-General’. ‘Council members can anticipate exposure to the oxygen of publicity.’ John Edge, whose proposal to increase conveyancing fees Mears backed, also encouraged members to contest seats. Council members' reactions varied from ‘speechless anger to controlled sadness’. Phillip Sycamore protested that ‘the President is not the only Council member with a mandate’. Hodge insisted ‘the Council won't be bullied’. But the Solicitors Journal claimed that ‘even those who did not vote for Mr Mears are enjoying the sight [of] the establishment being shaken up, the sound of someone who is determined to try for a change’. Sayer wanted the Council to report votes. ‘If more elections are contested, then perhaps constituents should be aware how their candidates have voted in the past.’ This was ‘not a witch hunt’. But though Hodge called the proposal ‘party political’, it was passed with just three objections.24
Helen Davies declared her candidacy for Holland's Council seat, endorsing Edge's conveyancing proposal. Although two other candidates made conveyancing their central issue and the third focused on the profession's image, Davies received Edge's endorsement and won more than twice the votes of the next contender.25
Mears formed the President's Reform Group, which had nine Council members by the end of November and hoped for fifteen to twenty, to ‘meet, decide, and (generally) vote as a body’. He claimed ‘the great majority’ of the Council were not unfriendly and strong supporters outnumbered strong opponents, but ‘a few of the officials … rejoice inwardly … over every setback and discomfort we suffer’ and were ‘a fertile source of denigratory rumour’. The Law Society ‘ship has one captain, the elected President, who is entitled to expect the loyalty and commitment of the whole organisation’. But the New Law Journal reported a ‘gulf … between the beleaguered duo and most of the rest of the Council and senior management’, and the Gazette deplored the ‘hotbed of warring factions … the spectacle of running battles’.26
A few weeks later Sayer accused Treasurer Michael Howells of preventing independent consultants from examining expenditures and assailed a staff redraft of the conveyancing consultation paper as ‘an absolute, blatant arrogant attempt to sabotage’ his proposal. PACS chair Richard Hegarty said there had been a unanimous decision that Sayer's draft ‘was not a balanced document’. A Council member observed that ‘the vice president has many attributes but drafting is not one of them’. Member dissatisfaction intensified when the SIF and College of Law directorships and the Society Secretary-Generalship were advertised at salaries of over £100,000, although high-street solicitors were ‘still suffering the chill winds of the recession’.27
(p.421) Mears had used the Society's annual conference to mock the LCD White Paper easing divorce. ‘Jesus, it seems, had He been Lord Chancellor, would also have endorsed the proposals. Perhaps Jesus never uttered the words usually attributed to Him: “Whom God hath joined together, let no man put asunder”.’ Three months later a Mail on Sunday front-page story entitled ‘Love secrets of law chief’ revealed Mears was divorced and living with the mother of his two illegitimate children. Its leader accused him of ‘humbug and hypocrisy’. The New Law Journal said Mears had told the Young Women Lawyers group the woman was his ‘wife’. Mears called this just ‘a shorthand way of referring to the person you live with. There is no other word. “Cohabitee” is legalistic; “lover” is naff; “partner” is ambiguous.’ He maintained ‘the government should be looking at making [divorce] less easy’. His personal circumstances were ‘irrelevant’. He attacked Sue Stapely, the Society's public relations head, for including the article in her regular cuttings service. ‘I will be considering what the position is of those who circulated this within the Society.’ He also contemplated suing the tabloid for libel. Girling ‘very much regretted the adverse publicity’ and said the public relations department ‘have to circulate things’. Pembridge gloated: ‘Those who live by the sword often die by it’. The chair of the family law committee said Mears's views on divorce did not reflect those of the Society.
Relying on verbatim minutes, Stapely said Mears ‘very much hoped that the News of the World would defame [him] as [he was] “very litigious” and would relish the opportunity to take proceedings’. Andrew Lockley, Society media relations director, circulated a memo to journalists about the incident, which Mears called ‘desperately damaging to me and by extension to the Law Society’. Sayer and he would ‘have great difficulty in working with’ Stapely and Lockley. Hayes expressed ‘admiration and support for all staff in difficult times. It is their task to support the work of the Council as a whole, including the policy programme of the office holders.’ They had ‘acted in good faith and no disciplinary action should follow’.
Lockley resigned a few weeks later, after fourteen years at the Society. When Stapely left a month after that her former office claimed ‘she wasn't pushed, nor did she jump’. The Solicitors Journal regretted the departure of such ‘innovative and independent minded’ staff. The New Law Journal deplored the ‘concerted effort to destroy each other’.
The Lord Chancellor, the Bar Council and other organisations whose interests are sometimes inimical to those of solicitors must be howling with glee when they read of quarrels over bottles of brandy, hidden letters, numbers of children accruing to partners—The internecine warfare is making us a laughing stock.28
The President's Reform Group (now eleven) met for the first time after the January Council meeting and presented Mears with a watch engraved (p.422) ‘Don't let the bastards get you down’—echoing the watch presented to Asil Nadir following the Polly Peck bankruptcy. Roger Wilson declared that ‘the profession is hopelessly over-governed and the Law Society should be cut right back to concentrate on essential core services’. Bill Heath felt ‘the profession is pissed off from top to bottom with the Council’ and called for the Society's abolition. Peter Watson-Lee accused older Council members of ‘an arrogant and cynical dismissal of the opinions of solicitors’.29
Six months after leaving the Council, Holland called Mears's promises ‘wholly unachievable’. He had ‘wanted a better public image of the profession’ but ‘has produced the exact opposite’. ‘A further year of the Mears/Sayer combination could well finish the profession's standing’. Mears retorted that when Holland had served, ‘the Council functioned as a kind of politbureau [sic] whose ethos was deadening consensus’. Pembridge denounced Mears's performance as ‘seriously bad news for all of us’, lacking ‘charisma, vision or positive forward thinking’.30
Seeking an unprecedented second term, Mears sought to end mandatory continuing education and boasted of refusing ‘freebie’ ‘junkets’ to Chicago, Brisbane, Milan, Vienna, Barcelona, Berlin, and Warsaw while visiting Doncaster, Newcastle, Birmingham, and Nottingham.
One Past President rises in Council to demand that a hostile letter he has sent to me be circulated. Another seems to have given over his twilight years to composing denunciations of me and all my works. Last year's defeated presidential candidates, whom I thought were dead and buried with stakes through their hearts, have risen to affright my waking hours.
He was ‘Richard III at the battle of Bosworth. With half his forces in covert alliance with the other side, it was no wonder he lost. But perhaps it is all my paranoia.’ Adversaries engaged in ‘large scale disinformation’. Sayer and he ‘have been unwillingly involved in a kind of trench warfare and if we finally fail this is far more likely to be the consequence of internal rather than external opposition’. Sayer denounced ‘Law Society groupies’, wanted every vacant Council seat contested, and planned to run for president in a year. ‘My driving force is that I'm bloody minded. I'm just increasingly fed up with the ways in which the Law Society sticks its paws into how I run my business.’ A few weeks later David Keating joined their ticket as DVP candidate.31
John Edge obtained counsel's opinion that a Society SGM could amend the by-laws to require all Council members to stand for re-election in order ‘to bring home to [them] just how precarious their positions are’. ‘Supporters of the conveyancing fee initiative are not satisfied that the Council is trying hard enough on the conveyancing question.’ But he would wait until after the 1996 election, in which he supported Mears.32
The Solicitors Journal called on ‘the profession finally to bite the bullet and separate the disciplinary and regulatory functions of the Law Society (p.423) from its role as a trade union’. ‘The most bitter wrangles … over the past three years have been about the Society's role as a regulator. … In contrast, the Society was very much supported by the profession when it lobbied on our behalf.’ Accountants were ‘considering separating the functions’. The BLA General Secretary said ‘the catalyst for its formation was the common belief that the dual role of the Law Society as regulator/representative was unworkable’. ‘We are probably the most over-regulated profession in the world. To comply with the Ten Commandments we have devised Twenty-nine of our own, subdivided ad infinitum, and enforced by a bureaucracy costing us over £11m a year’.33
Bogan (who had won the previous year's only contested Council seat as a Mears supporter) launched the Solicitors Association (SA) because of the ‘inherent conflict’ between regulation and representation. ‘The case for a legal trade union is made out’ by ‘pitiful rates for conveyancing and legal aid work’. City firms feared the accountants. ‘The growth of independent networks and specialist panels bear witness to the inability of the Law Society to fully discharge a representative function.’
I have finally established a link between CJD and the Law Society. The government are hoping to gain the confidence of the electorate by slaughtering cattle, all we are doing is looking to re-establish confidence ourselves and a bit of selective culling wouldn't go amiss at the Law Society.
Mears ‘sympathised with and respected’ Bogan's goal but saw ‘no advantage in handing over the regulatory functions to a body over which we would have no control’. Sayer also thought this ‘too drastic’. Holland said the premise was false: ‘Doctors are employees, so they need a representative body such as the BMA’. Bogan was adamant: ‘the hostility that has been manifest in Council debates over the last 12 months is indicative of the inherent conflict’ between the functions. A regulatory body had to champion the public interest. But the SA declared that ‘the profession's interests must be the prime determinant of its policies’.34
Edge, another Mears ally, wrote to the 12,700 who signed his conveyancing fee initiative (see Chapter 6), urging them to join the SA, which had 600 members after three weeks and was gaining fifty a day. Bogan thought it ‘not unreasonable to expect a membership getting on for 20,000 by the end of the next few months’. The SA proposed that the Society's July AGM divorce representation (which it would assume) from regulation, allow postal ballots to dissolve the Council and force an election to all seats, and eliminate the residence requirement.35
Hayes opposed the split but agreed ‘we are in a mess’. Large commercial firms, resenting the cost of the SCB, SCF, and SIF, ‘might decide to form their own regulatory organisation’. So might specialists and franchise-holders. Indeed, in May the Council proposed a pilot probate section, the (p.424) first substantive constituency; 88 per cent of the 1,500 probate solicitors surveyed were positive. Lockley argued that because the Society has ‘sole and exclusive powers over finance and management … unless the council agree to split resources it looks as if that particular objective would fall at the first hurdle’. The Solicitors Journal proposed the ‘radical solution’ of limiting the practising certificate fee to regulatory functions. A poll found that nearly half of respondents favoured division.36
Mears asked why ‘we need a new representative body … which on the face of it is no more than a reanimated British Legal Association?’ There was ‘no conflict between the enlightened self-interest of the profession and that of the public’. Bogan retorted that Mears ‘fails to tell us how he will achive his worthy objectives within the existing structure’. Doctors allocated 80 per cent of their subions to the BMA, which ‘does them proud. We spend less than 30% and we represent ourselves badly.’37
In his valedictory speech at the March Council meeting, Peter Verdin asked whether ‘the emperor has no clothes?’ Although Mears had to read a fulsome tribute, he then held an impromptu press conference, attacking Verdin and declaring the ‘assumptions, conventions and orthodoxies’ of the ‘hothouse world’ of Chancery Lane ‘wholly at variance with those of the profession outside’. Later that month LAG asked ‘who will rid us of these turbulent men?’ The ‘joke’ had ‘gone sour’. The Society's ‘doings read more like a soap opera’; it was ‘degenerating into a very public farce’. The Solicitors Journal called for ‘a credible challenge’ to Mears. ‘Limiting entryto the profession, taking action on conveyancing fees and changing the SCB are three policies that sounded better on the hustings than they look in action today.’ Mears had been right to challenge the establishment, but ‘he is now the establishment and should be challenged’. The local law societies' annual meeting was accelerated to discuss the proposition that the national Society should ‘conduct its business in such a manner as to enhance rather than damage the reputation of the solicitors' profession in the eyes of the public’. Mears was openly scornful. ‘What we are seeing is healthy democratic debate.’ Did they ‘really want to go back to the old politburo-style days?’ When the Society appointed Jane Betts Secretary-General, Lockley wrote her an open letter praising the staff as a ‘priceless asset’ and decrying that ‘political posturing has led some to accuse them of all sorts of imagined crimes against humanity’.38
At the April Council meeting John Franks compared Mears to ‘Arthur Scargill just before he led his members into the strike that annihilated their union’. When the Bar Council chair deplored discrimination against women at the annual women lawyers conference that month, Mears assailed a ‘discrimination industry’ driven by ‘zealots’ and dismissed prejudice as ‘a nonsense and a fiction’. ‘[F]eminism is the orthodoxy and it is a bold heretic [like himself] who challenges any of its doctrines.’ The Society's (p.425) equal opportunities committee chair insisted that discrimination was still a ‘vast problem’. Bahl called the speech ‘one example of certain attitudes that definitely need changing’. Stapely urged women to ‘oust Mears and his ilk from the leadership of their profession’. Pembridge declared: ‘somebody should stand against’ him and offered to do so if no one else came forward. The Solicitors Journal accused Mears of doing ‘employment lawyers a disservice … by way of a tabloid headline turn of expression’. The New Law Journal said he ‘appears quite needlessly to be doing what he can to upsetlarge tranches of the profession he represents’. Nevertheless, the Lawyer made him its ‘legal personality of the year’ for giving ‘Chancery Lane a much needed shake up’ and gaining ‘fame—and notoriety—as one of the most colourful Law Society figures ever’.39
In early May Mears exulted that no one opposed him. ‘[M]y support is even stronger than it was last year’ despite media ‘vilification and disinformation’, such as the charge of excess drinking at the presidential residence, exposed as ‘entirely a canard’. But Elly told the LAPG annual conference it was ‘disgraceful’ that Mears met Mackay about legal aid only once. ‘We give the impression now that it is the interests of the profession we have at heart, not the interests of the public.’ The LAPG voted by 16 to 0, with 3 abstentions, its ‘lack of confidence in the current President of the Law Society, with regard to his leadership of the profession and, in particular, his apparent lack of interest in legal aid issues and therefore urges that his forthcoming attempt at re-election be contested’. Mears complained of ‘intrigue’, ‘an attempt at a backstairs coup’, which was ‘characteristic of the way left-wing cliques used to manipulate trade unions and local authorities. It is no coincidence that Mrs Pembridge and Messrs Gilchrist [her campaign manager] and Smith [LAG director] all come from the small coterie of metropolitan leftists who were my vociferous opponents last year.’40
Ten solicitors promptly launched the Campaign for New Leadership (CNL), asking Mears and Sayer to stand down or it would ‘be devoting its considerable resources’ to opposition. Its press release on ‘the rise and fall of Martin Mears and Robert Sayer’, headlined ‘a dinosaur at the Law Society’, went to 950 solicitors, Council members, and local law society heads. ‘“Shambles”—“Soap Opera”—“Farce” This is how the media have described the current pantomime at Chancery Lane.’ Mears and Sayer
thrive on conflict—but achieve nothing. They talk of economy—but [spend] the profession's cash pursuing mirages——They raised expectations of results they could never deliver. In frustration, their wilder supporters now talk of smashing up the Law Society itself.
Within a week they received nearly 100 positive replies.
Bogan denounced CNL as ‘negative and reactionary’. Mears dismissed it as a ‘small band of establishment groupies’. ‘Wrapping old fish in fresh (p.426) paper’, said Sayer, ‘doesn't make it smell any sweeter’. ‘Blaming us for the infighting and all the stories leaked to the press is like blaming the victim for being mugged.’ ‘I loathe [the Society's] bureaucratic "We know what is best for you" attitude.’ But Mears defector Peter Hughes called it ‘silly and divisive to go off in a huff and blame everybody else when you find that nobody wants fool's gold. It is silly to break things, unless you have something to put it their place.’ ‘I don't want oligarchy simply replaced by dictatorship.’ The Solicitors Journal thought the CNL letter ‘reads more like a protest than a policy document’. Mears was ‘justified’ in claiming ‘that implementing real change was impossible with nearly the whole Council against him’. It urged ‘an orderly election campaign in which all candidates focus on issues without resorting to personality attacks’. A few days later Phillip Sycamore (a member of a three-partner Blackpool firm) hinted he would stand with Tony Girling and Michael Mathews (a Clifford Chance partner). At the same time Helen Davies and Angela Deacon repudiated Mears because of his comments to the conference on women lawyers.41
Mears unleashed his invective at the ‘dozen or so brave spirits meeting in out-of-the-way conventicles and exchanging the secret password’. They sought ‘to restore the golden era of the Law Society as it was before Mears and Sayer, loved by solicitors and public alike, respected by the press and feared by the government … let us call it the Campaign to Bring Back Buggins’. They wanted ‘a return to the good old policies … Practice Management Standards; Conveyancing Kite Marks; specialist accreditations; regulation and yet more regulation; an inexorable rise in expenditure and staff numbers’. The ‘presidential aspirants so rudely deprived of their birthright last summer’ had blocked his programme. ‘[A]ny criticism I have made of my opponents has been in response to direct attacks from them.’ He blamed the bad press on opponents who told reporters ‘we have become a shambles/laughing stock/soap opera’.42
At a press conference on retiring from the Council after eighteen years, Pannone (the president two years before) warned that the ‘unedifying’ behaviour of Mears and Sayer ‘could well debase the good name of the Law Society’. He had given Mears ‘a fair chance … and he has failed’. Mears replied with his own press conference. He had promised ‘revolution. Everyone acknowledges that at least I have done that.’ Pannone had been ‘unremittingly hostile, to the point where he would come up to me and Robert Sayer and call us names’. He denounced Pannone's ‘hostile action’ and an earlier ‘letter of rambling denunciation’. He associated Pannone with the Society's bloated bureaucracy, the profession's alienation, and the cover-up of Young's sexual harassment. ‘Bad publicity’ was caused by Pannone ‘rubbishing the new regime’, but Mears would be blamed in this ‘world of Alice in Wonderland’. His only fault was not remaining ‘silent in (p.427) the face of humbug and cant’. The Solicitors Journal deplored the ‘very personal vilification and bitterness’ on both sides.
Walter Merricks became the fifth senior official to leave. On his own departure, Hayes accused Mears and Sayer of believing ‘the causes for which they were elected merit a suspension of the normal democratic conventions under which the Society was governed’. ‘Wherever you go—among ministers, the judiciary, leaders of other bodies here and abroad—they can't believe what is happening to the Law Society. The issue is fitness to govern.’ Mears called Hayes the ‘ruler of the Law Society for the last 10 years during which time staff numbers trebled and there was an enormous increase in expenditure’. Angus Andrew, whom Hodge supported to fill his Council seat, was ‘appalled by the current president and his supporters and the extent to which they have brought the profession into disrepute’. The Solicitors Journal echoed Pannone's judgment that ‘the Society has lost therespect of decision makers in parliament, of the Bar, of the judiciary and the international legal profession’.
Andrew Holroyd, former Liverpool Law Society president, crushed Mears supporter John Callaghan by 512 to 199 in an unusually high Council by-election poll of more than 50 per cent. Holroyd said Mears had ‘antagonised a number of different special interest groups at a time when we should be trying to unite the profession’. But Sayer claimed that ‘support for us is, if anything, stronger this year’. David Mcintosh, unchallenged for a City seat, criticized ‘the self-centred approach manifested by the current leader of the Law Society’ and would seek ‘to bring to an end the pettiness and public bickering’. CNL founder Kevin Martin, uncontested in Warwickshire, ran against Mears's ‘Flat Earth Society’.43
In early June Bogan declared his candidacy for the presidency while admitting: ‘I don't want to be President. I want the [SA] resolutions passed’. Girling would be ‘a return to “no can do-ism”.’ He told Mears: ‘You have done a great job. And you have done so single-handedly. The profession will always owe you a great debt’ and invited Mears and Sayer to join him. The Croyden and District Law Society president, a member of the SA steering committee, supported Bogan. ‘We cannot afford to give Mears a second year.’ ‘I would not fear an independent regulator. We would run rings round an external regulator.’ ‘Competent lawyers unfettered can defeat that person any day of the week.’
Girling, Sycamore, and Mathews became the CNL slate, claiming support from Tony Edwards (a leading criminal lawyer), Michael Napier (APIL past president), Pembridge, Lesley MacDonagh (Lovell White joint managing partner), and the AWS, YSG, and Group for Solicitors with Disabilities. These ‘candidates for the whole profession’ were ‘making the case for real reform’. Girling had ‘tried very hard to work with’ the incumbents but found that ‘if you disagree with Martin Mears you're out of the (p.428) pale’. ‘The style of leadership … invites confrontation.’ ‘[T]he profession's reputation cannot be anything but damaged by descending into that sort of vitriol.’ They were not the ‘old guard’; Sycamore had been on the Council for five years and Mathews less than one. Mathews said City lawyers feared the Society's negative publicity ‘might rub off’ on them. ‘[T]he natural tendency for extremist groups is to split’, said Girling. ‘Martin Mears hasn't even lasted a year.’ Bogan was ‘a one-issue candidate’.
Mears called it ‘plainly not true and nonsense to say the Society is losing influence’. He stood ‘between the policies of the old guard and people, such as Anthony Bogan, who live in a fantasy world. I offer a realistic middle course.’ Bogan was a ‘wild man’. ‘'Til last Monday he was posing as one of our warmest supporters.’ ‘A vote for the separation candidate is a wasted vote.’ Sayer warned that ‘hatred’ might prompt an ‘extreme protest vote’ for Bogan, which ‘would simply allow the establishment back in by the back door’.44
The Society obtained counsel's opinion that the SA proposal was ‘wholly bizarre’ and Privy Council approval essential but highly unlikely. Bizarre was not unlawful, retorted Edge, and counsel ‘seemed to be expressing a personal point of view’. He denounced the Society's ‘statutory monopoly of representation’ as ‘the last bastion of the closed shop’ and was confident it could be abolished without primary legislation. The Solicitors Journal upbraided Bogan's opponents for having ‘rather foolishly brushed aside the idea, which is already receiving parliamentary support’.45
Girling's ‘business plan’—with ‘Rebuilding respect for the Profession’ emblazoned on each page—emphasized communications with and service to members, ‘value for money’ in the SCF and SCB, ‘No giving up on conveyancing’, defence of legal aid, ‘realistic careers advice’, and an ‘overall public relations’ strategy. He was proud of blocking authorized conveyancers and non-solicitor probate practitioners, though ‘we don't crow about either of those achievements because it would be counterproductive to do so’. Mears and Sayer had displayed ‘a cocktail of inexperience, stubbornness and lack of realism’. One of Mears's nine Council allies had defected, and more would do so.
Mears sent all solicitors an open letter entitled ‘No Turning Back!’ ‘Last July the profession voted for a revolution at the Law Society’. Sayer and he had ‘been subjected to an unrelenting campaign of personal abuse, obstruction and disinformation’. He might have been ‘too confrontational and not sufficiently canvassed opinion’, but he had been repeatedly snubbed and obstructed by Council and staff. ‘For arguing that, in principle, any profession should have control over its own numbers, we have been denounced as protectionists and flat earthers.’ The profession had trebled in two decades and was adding 3,000 solicitors a year. ‘Is it not a simple scandal that during the past twelve months the Law Society has actually increased (p.429) the number of authorised [LPC] places?’ There was ‘ample evidence’ of ‘a link between cut price and claims on the SIF’. He blamed critics for the ‘public's negative perception’ of the profession. ‘In the pre-Mears/Sayer days there was no unseemliness. Neither was there in the old Soviet politburo. Neither is there in a graveyard.’‘Whenever I talk to judges, politicians or opinion formers their comments on events at the Law Society is [sic] on the lines: “About time they had a shake-up”’. Society expenditureshad increased fivefold in ten years, including ‘preposterous instances of waste, extravagance and profligacy’. ‘If the profession votes to bring back the Bourbons of the old regime … it will get—people who have learnt nothing.’ ‘Mr Girling and his supporters claim they are the right people to run the Law Society. Do leopards change their spots?’ The SA proposals were ‘profoundly misguided’ and an election the wrong way to decide this ‘important issue’.46
Girling found this ‘personal attack’ ‘odd’ because Mears had invited him to remain as Deputy Vice President (even after recruiting Keating for the position), which showed ‘Mears will do anything which he thinks will help him stay in power’. Mears assailed this ‘outrageous, mischievous disinformation’; no one ‘has made an approach on my behalf to Mr Girling’. But his campaign manager, Peter Watson-Lee, confirmed doing so in ‘an off the record and confidential discussion’. Girling promised the CNL would move at the Society AGM to curb Mears's working parties on conveyancing fees, entry, and the £3 million public relations campaign.47
Bogan understandably savaged Mears. He took a strong anti-discrimination position: ‘why aren't women in positions of power in the legal world and why aren't there more women on the Council?’ He disagreed ‘profoundly’ with entry control. ‘You can't deny an individual the right to aspire to be a lawyer if they want to’. The President's Reform Group ‘seemed to consist largely of a few dinners in Carey Street to discuss the state of the profession, life and the universe’. Keating was added to the ticket ‘round the dinner table without a lot of discussion’. ‘[S]enior MPs from all parties’ warned that if the Society did ‘not take steps to provide transparency between the dual roles of regulation and representation quickly, external regulation will be imposed on us. This is not “fantasy”.’ The BLA supported Bogan because Mears's opposition to splitting functions ‘demonstrates a lack of vision and of courage to face the future’.48
Mears grew even more incendiary. ‘I represent the revolution.’ ‘[I]t was David and Goliath last year and it's David and Goliath again.’ He would ‘rout’ and ‘demoralize’ the ‘establishment’. ‘Women journalists’ concurred in his anti-feminist tirade. Accounts of newly qualified solicitors working without pay to get traineehips sent him ‘into paroxysms of rage’. ‘This situation is a scandal … and everyone outside this place agrees with me.’ Sayer assailed the Society's ‘perverse’ policies: ‘support[ing] rights of audience (p.430) for Legal Executives’; extending conditional fees to ‘disgruntled clients wishing to sue their original personal injury solicitor’; and ‘proposing a new alternative method of qualification based on work experience as a paralegal’ for law graduates unable to get traineeships.49
Girling won a narrow majority (15,911 to 14,239 for Mears, 1,287 for Bogan, and 791 spoiled papers); Sycamore and Mathews had larger margins. The turnout rose to 45 per cent. All pro-Mears Council candidates lost, though some very closely. Howells defeated one by just four votes. The SDT had convicted Howells of violating conflict of interest rules. After the Appeals Committee administered a severe rebuke without a public hearing, the New Law Journal demanded his resignation, which he submitted at the new Council's first meeting.
Girling, Sycamore, Mathews
Mears boasted he had made the presidency ‘immeasurably higher profile than it was before’. Girling retorted that the Duchess of York also ‘attracts her fair share of column inches’ but it was ‘quality rather than quantity of coverage with which we should be concerned’. Mears promised ‘every assistance and cooperation’ but as ‘leader of Her Majesty's substantial opposition’. Girling responded: ‘we have much more in common than divides us’.50 Sheldon pronounced Mears's obituary. He had ‘brought about an undoubted sea change’, ‘broken the mould, ‘stir[red] the pot’. ‘But after a good stir, you have got to let the pot simmer for a while.’ Mears, however, declared he would stand again and be the first President ‘to come back from the dead’.
Holland was confident that Girling would provide ‘firm and clear leadership’. Napier was ‘delighted’ that the profession ‘is in safe but not boring hands’. The YSG chair welcomed ‘a period of stabilisation’. The LAPG and SFLA offered support. But Dubow said the new administration ‘will need to prove its commitment to high street practitioners by dealing practically with the issue of conveyancing fees’. And the Solicitors Journal saw a ‘danger’ in the disparity between the ‘handful of Martin Mears' supporters on the Council’ and his endorsement ‘by nearly half the electorate’. Nostalgic for a man it had repeatedly reviled, the New Law Journal praised Mears for having ‘shaken up the ailing Law Society with its grating and complaisant attitude towards the hungry sheep’. Now Girling had to ‘re-unite’ it and ‘re-establish’ respect. The Gazette praised him as ‘impressively workman-like’ and ‘an experienced negotiator with the government’.51
Quickly extending an olive branch, Girling persuaded Sayer to be deputy treasurer (under Mathews), adding: ‘I asked Martin Mears to work with us rather than to fan the flames of resentment at the Society’. Mears was ‘a member of four influential committees chaired by me’, and Sayer (p.431) was on the finance committee and involved in information technology and the Society's reorganization. Girling made Mears head of a team developing a client care perspective at the OSS. ‘I can only regret that Mr Mears continues to seek out areas for public criticism’. Mears did just that. Having boasted of eschewing foreign junkets, he attacked Merricks (and his wife) and Hamish Adamson for attending the Commonwealth Lawyers Conference in Vancouver, ‘a blatant freebie’, at a cost of nearly £20,000, and warned that staff ‘will not be able to get away from [sic] that sort of behaviour as I shall be keeping an eye on them’. When the new Secretary-General hoped ‘this will be the last kerfuffle left over from the last administration’, Mears condemned her and her predecessor for overruling his veto of these trips. David Mcintosh, newly elected to the Council, asked Mears to give ‘Girling and his team … the benefit of any doubt’. But Mears retorted that he had been ‘publicly vilified in the most scurrilous terms’. He and Sayer issued fact sheets trumpeting ‘The truth, no economy, no varnish, no concealment’, criticizing SIF for miscalculating premiums and the Council for authorizing £6.77 million to refurbish Chancery Lane.52
The post-election AGM on the SA motions attracted fewer than 150. It passed the resolution extending membership and voting rights to virtually all solicitors on the Roll (an additional 18,000). The SA proposed that 100 members could require a postal ballot on recalling the entire Council, which ‘has lost its way and is no longer representative of the views and aspirations of the Profession’. Only eleven members had won contested elections. ‘Ideally the Membership should be able to decide particular issues by Referendum.’ ‘At a single stroke, the Membership can win sovereignty of the Law Society.’ But the Council noted the cost (£30,000 for a postal ballot, £100,000 for an election) and feared the threat ‘could be used to bring the proceedings of the Council … to a halt’. The SA ‘believe in breaking up the Law Society and it would be logical for them to use disruptive tactics so as to discredit the Council and the Society’. It was ‘a recipe for the Society to become a permanent battleground between warring factions’. Even Mears, who ‘sympathise[d] with the sentiments’ and had ‘spent the last 12 months in warfare with the Council’, called it ‘absurd if 100 people could demand a general election at any time’. The motion was lost decisively and obtained only eighteen of the twenty votes needed for a postal ballot. The meeting also rejected the proposal to add non-geographic constituencies and eliminate the residence requirement for candidates because interests had ‘more to do with the size of the firm or its type of work or clientele’.
The SA's principal motion called for ‘clear division of regulatory and representative functions’. A century ago
the Law Society was called ‘the best organised and most intelligent trade union in the Country’. How would it be described today? Recently, the British Medical (p.432) Association has been called ‘the strongest trade union in the world’. It has pursued a successful philosophy of ‘enlightened self-interest without the burden of professional regulation’.
The Council warned against ‘an admission that solicitors no longer wish or deserve to be trusted to regulate themselves, and an open invitation to a future government to impose an external regulatory body’. Counsel had warned that the Society might lose its royal charter. Although a large majority rejected the motion, twenty-four forced a postal ballot. The Council objected to the cost and feared that division would prompt City solicitors to create their own regulatory body instead of continuing to pay for the SCF, SIF, and SCB. Girling also warned that government, unlike the Society, would have ‘no incentive … to minimise regulation’. A purely representative body ‘would have little credibility’. The American Bar Association experience suggested that as few as a third of solicitors would subscribe. Even Bogan got cold feet. The vote would not bind the Council but only ‘demonstrate that the profession expects its elected representative to give the issue of separation the time and resources for proper debate’. He was ‘the first to admit the issue is less than clear cut’. Solicitors decisively rejected fission (by 14,199 to 8,881 with 1,200 spoiled ballots). Although the turnout was just 30 per cent, Girling called it ‘a clear message that solicitors do value self-regulation’. But buoyed by 40 per cent of the vote, Bogan said ‘the issue will not go away’.53
Mears launched his own journal, Caterpillar, because the Gazette treated him ‘entirely as an unperson’. He accepted his ‘narrow defeat with … good grace’ but intended to ‘fight again’, which ‘means unearthing the scandals, ineptitudes and other unpleasantnesses distasteful to those in authority’. Past presidents were ‘apparatchiks’, whose ‘long tenure has resulted in a divided profession’. A mock questionnaire profiled Mears loyalists: ‘Blow the rules, it's a trade union pure and simple’; ‘Panels and kite marks are a load of bureaucratic nonsense’; ‘Bring back scale conveyancing fees’; ‘Elections are all a bit of fun aren't they?’ Sayer maintained ‘it would probably not make a great deal of difference to the average High Street Firm if [the Society] did not exist’. Although seven Council members were entitled to send a joint newsletter to their constituents semi-annually, the Society refused to disseminate Caterpillar because counsel found it libellous. Mears distributed it as his own expense, repeating the alleged libels.54
While Mears blustered, Sayer exposed. The Society provided plenty of material. When he had asked in December 1995 why practising certificates were not being issued, the Council was assured that the computer system would overcome its ‘teething problems’. The same day the director of professional standards and development sent an internal e-mail acknowledging ‘a real crisis in that we cannot adequately discharge two of our core (p.433) functions, the issue of practising certificates and the accounting for income received’. A year later Sayer criticized the report on the Regis computer system as a ‘watered down’ version of the consultants' findings and condemned a ‘cover up’ by senior officials. The Council voted by 49 to 17 in favour of Mears's motion criticizing ‘the history of mismanagement’ and warned that ‘any unreasonable lack of openness on the part of staff would be viewed as an issue likely to lead to disciplinary action’. A month later Sayer noted that the Regis budget had grown from £2.5 million to £10 million. The Society would have a £6 million overdraft in nine months unless it took action. Girling and Mathews blocked his demand for an external audit. The New Law Journal lauded Sayer as ‘both numerate and computer competent’.
When the finance committee sought another £400,000 for the High Street Starter Kit, Sayer condemned ‘the daft way we organise ourselves’, calling it ‘a mess’ several weeks later. ‘After 18 months and £200,000 the Law Society still doesn't have any viable software.’ Several weeks after that Robin Ap Cynan, chair of the practice development committee, admitted the HSSK was ‘not as ready as he'd hoped’. Sayer convinced the committee to ‘junk it’. When Sayer was forced to run for election to deputy treasurer, the New Law Journal expressed ‘sympathy’ for his view ‘that this is a move to stop his investigations into the workings of the Law Society's finances’. But Ap Cynan was disqualified on technical grounds and Sayer returned unopposed. Contemporaneously, the BLA complained to the OSS about LS staff mishandling of Regis.55
In early 1997 Sayer announced his candidacy for president because of the ‘danger with Martin that the press will home in on the person and not the issues, which are what really count’: the consultants' ‘devastating picture of mismanagement’, sixty-one more staff, and SIF's three mammoth miscalculations. He rejected Holland's ‘absurdly superficial’ claim that ‘the profession has to choose between … the bright future of modern commercialism’ and ‘the backward looking pit of professionalism’. He advocated market restrictions ‘in the public good’, the ‘bargain’ of ‘professional responsibilities in return for professional privileges’. Mears was patronizing: ‘Robert's status has greatly increased in the last few months. I think he's a first class man, not a ceremonial president.’ But though Mears declared his candidacy for VP, Sayer hedged about the ticket. Mears then said that after receiving ‘a number of calls … I am not ruling myself out’ as president. Mathews said he would stand ‘for an office’, but Sycamore temporized. Within a week it became clear that Sayer did not want Mears as a running mate. Mears claimed he was ‘happy to support any arrangement which is effective’. Despite ‘pressure from a great number of my own sup-porters’ he would stand down ‘if a sufficiently strong team is assembled’.56
In the March Caterpillar Mears sought 1,000 £46 subions from high-street solicitors who ‘know that at Chancery Lane, we continue to be their (p.434) best friends’. During his year in office ‘the old'uns never ceased their attacks’. He mocked ‘Girling and co.’ for their claims of influence ‘in the corridors of power. But not enough to hang on to their knighthood!’ The Society should emulate the Bar Council, ‘which invariably defends its members' interests vigorously and single-mindedly’. He reviewed the Regis ‘debacle’ of unmet performance targets and cost overruns, quoting the Arthur Andersen report he had made the Council publish:
the level of financial awareness in the Society and Council is limited. The meaning of revenue versus capital expenditure, the implications for future budgets of current capital spend on depreciation and interest, and the meaning of surplus or deficit in the Income and Expenditure Account are not fully understood.
As president Mears had received ‘sensitive’ information from ‘comparatively junior staff members’. Now they had to consult with superiors if they thought a Council member wanted the information for ‘political or electioneering purposes’.57
Girling called Mears's ‘relentless carping and sniping’ ‘out of line’. Caterpillar was ‘sheer negativity’. Among its ‘gratuitously objectionableitems’ was ‘a disparaging reference to the Gazette as “our house magazine”. Yet, you have been the one person who has argued against the editorial independence of the Gazette.’ Mears claimed he was merely ‘represent[ing] my constituents’ by exposing ‘mismanagement and wrong directions’. ‘Last summer, I said that if I were re-elected I would involve Mr Girling closely in my consultations. Mr Girling, on the other hand, declared that if I were elected he would quit the Council.’ When Mears had offered to remain on two committees ‘Mr Girling took three minutes to refuse my request’.58
At the beginning of March Sycamore and Mathews declared their candidacy for president and vice president. The profession should ‘embrace change, be in the vanguard of reforms and prosper by adapting to a changing environment’ rather than ‘stamp our feet, clamour vainly for protectionism and watch the world pass us by’. If solicitors did not become ‘more responsive to what clients want’ they would lose work to MDPs dominated by accountants and estate agents. The Society had ‘to demonstrate our continuing right to self-regulation’ by ‘practice management standards and meaningful accreditation schemes’. They publicly offered Sayer the DVP nomination to end ‘electioneering’, ‘squabbling’, ‘politicking’, ‘this image of bickering among ourselves’. ‘[I]t is time for the politics to stop and for progress to begin.’ Sayer saw ‘a small window of opportunity to work out a consensus’ but did not know what they ‘stand for’. He distanced himself from Mears, who had ‘a tendency to speak first and think of the consequences later’. Mears hoped Sayer ‘thinks carefully of the implications of what he is doing’ in ‘repudiating’ their joint ticket and defecting to the ‘establishment’—the ‘quintessence of blandness’—and threatened to run for president.
(p.435) Sayer called the split permanent, rejecting ‘gesture politics’ and claiming he had told Mears in December: ‘I would not stand on the same platform as him again. Anyone who followed the events leading up to the last election will be able to form their own conclusions about my reasons.’ ‘There have been no fudges or private deals.’ When Sayer declared his candidacy for president, ‘Martin immediately announced that he was standing as my Vice President. He did not discuss that with me before making that announcement.’ If Mears stood down ‘he can be remembered with dignity as the man who helped break the mould. If he insists on standing as President … he will be remembered as the man who broke the reform movement.’ Claiming to speak for ‘the bulk of the High Street practice’, Bogan also urged Mears to step aside.59
Although Mears purported to be ‘very reluctant to enter into public disputes with Mr Sayer’, he could not ‘let [Sayer's] version of recent events go unchallenged’. Sayer had written on 29 January: ‘you suggested that I stand as President and that you stand as Vice President. I agree.’ When Sayer worried about being ‘overshadowed by me’, Mears offered to be campaign manager if he could find a ‘credible substitute’. They split over the DVP: Mears wanted Keating, Sayer wanted Bogan.60
While Sayer deliberated, Mears declared his candidacy for the presidency to give ‘a clear voice and clear leadership’. Sayer warned that Mears's ‘taste for publicity … damages any chance of implementing reforms’. Sayer continued to emphasize ‘unfair competition from non-solicitors’, ‘working for lending institutions for no pay while accepting complete liability’, ‘the escalating professional indemnity bill’, and ‘over-population’. Although Sycamore and Mathews were ‘conciliators looking for an end to conflict’, he was ‘not convinced they share my ambition’. But within a few weeks he accepted their offer. The three promised to ‘heal … the divisions which have plagued the Law Society’ and voiced some of Sayer's concerns: ‘get a grip on the cost of running the Society’, an independent review of SIF, return ‘control and responsibility to Council members’, and respond to new threats, like estate-agency conveyancing.
Mears dismissed their platform as ‘a collection of empty banalities’. The New Law Journal hoped Sayer had extracted an external audit as his ‘price’for ‘joining the team’. It strangely revived Bogan's proposal for fission: ‘one day there will be a separation of powers’. The Society should ‘swim gracefully with the tide’ and ‘be able to say that it stands for the interests of its members alone and not have to divide itself into sections which are at war with one another’.61
Mears and his running mates David Keating and David Savage declared their issues were the legal aid remuneration freeze, 9 per cent increase in Society staff, Regis, and HSSK, and ‘a whole succession of blunders involving the SIF’. Mears had ‘thrown a large stone in the water’, but the ripples had ‘ceased and the pool is now its stagnant self again’. Although the (p.436) Girling administration (which included Sycamore and Mathews) claimed to have rebuilt the Society's reputation, its own survey found that ‘only 3% of solicitors “agree strongly” that the Law Society does a good job in promoting and representing the profession’, and 69 per cent disagree. Sycamore claimed most solicitors ‘bitterly regret yet another contested election’. Mears retorted that if Sycamore ‘doesn't want division, all he has to do is stand down’. Sycamore replied ‘we can't afford to be inward looking and divisive’.62
The New Law Journal waxed nostalgic about Mears (forgetting its harsh criticism of his presidency) and supported his platform. Girling made Council meetings pleasanter, but there was ‘smugness at the top’. ‘[I]t is now accepted that the turbulent era presided over by Mears did a great deal for the profession—by shaking up the complacent establishment.’ If ‘he wins and the Council backs him instead of thwarting him he may pull the Society into a position where more than two percent of its members think it is doing a good job for the profession’. But it conceded that ‘more may be accomplished without internal strife’, which Mears provoked.63
The June Caterpillar dismissed Sycamore and Mathews as nonentities. ‘No-one had heard of them’ before Girling chose them. ‘No-one has heard of them now.’ Mears's opponents accused him of ‘narrow protectionism, Scargillism and neglect of the consumer’. But ‘it is lawyers and not the Law Society who make themselves … unpopular’ through legal aid scandals and ambulance chasing. ‘The removal of restrictions on advertising and touting has destroyed the prosperity of High Street solicitors.’ ACLEC ‘has increasingly made so called self regulation a fiction’.
When I qualified there were a limited number of seats available for law courses and the law course itself was tough. A tougher course is what is required as is a significant contraction of places on law courses.
As president Mears
had no more inveterate enemy than Dracula lookalike and Chairman of the Law Society's Training Committee, Simon Baker … who led the walkout of superannuated groupies during a speech given by Mears to a Young Solicitors Dinner … [and] rejoiced in Counsel's Opinion … that the profession had no power to control its numbers even if it wanted to.
Accused by Mcintosh of ‘self-protectionism’, Mears asked ‘why is it so wrong to try to protect ourselves?’ He reminded Sayer that ‘only a few months ago, Girling and Co. called an election for the Deputy Treasurership … without even telling him. …’ ‘Has he already forgotten the rows of hostile faces he used to confront in the Council Chamber?’ ‘Or the cold-shouldering he received at last October's Annual Conference?’64
Sayer published an open letter to Mears, who ‘threw away’ the ‘chance to change the Law Society’ because ‘he did not concentrate on the vital (p.437) issues’. ‘While I investigated Regis, the High Street Starter Kit and the Society's finances, he made speeches.’ Mears ‘simply has nothing new to offer’. He was ‘shallow, vain and a phoney, all talk and no action. All he is interested in is being President, nothing else.’ Mears retorted that Sayer hoped to be ‘the Trojan Horse’ but was more likely to ‘be absorbed without trace into the machine’. Sycamore's platform rejected every Sayer position: ‘independent review of all expenditure’, a 10 per cent budget cut, an independent inquiry into SIF, and ‘dealing with the ever increasing number of people in the profession’. Sayer replied that Mears had been a ‘hindrance’ for two years, who had ‘systematically antagonised our supporters’ because he was ‘too arrogant to accept he needed Council support’. ‘Sycamore and Mathews will supply the diplomatic skills … and support across the Council I'll supply the cynicism and dogged persistence’.65
Others agreed. The City of London Law Society chair called it ‘vitally important that the Law Society President is respected by the Lord Chancellor, the heads of other government departments and the leaders of foreign bars’. The Manchester Law Society president reported ‘staleness and battle-weariness in the electorate’. The Birmingham Law Society president said ‘Mears is doing the profession a disservice by standing again’.66
The manifestoes repeated these themes. Sycamore's team stood for ‘unity’ and ‘reason’; it had ‘real influence’ and ‘the backing of the elected Council’; it was ‘forward looking’ and ‘problem solving’ and opposed ‘division’, looking ‘backwards’, ‘jibes and sarcasm’, ‘embarrassment’, and ‘politicking’. Mears retorted that the previous year had been an ‘almost unmitigated failure’.67
Just before voting closed Mears published Baker's confidential minutes of a February campaign meeting at Edge 8c Ellison, whose senior partner, John Aucott, lost to Sayer in 1995. It included Sycamore, Mathews, and four Council members (Richard Hegarty, John Appleby, Peter Williamson, and Baker); copies went to Council members Aucott, Mcintosh, Napier, and Lucy Winskell. Participants ‘agreed’ that the three remaining Council meetings ‘had to be managed more effectively so as to control the amount of debate about bad news issues and to reduce the propaganda opportunities for Mears and Sayer’. They urged ‘careful consideration … of a formal rebuke being administered from the chair to Sayer in the open part of the March meeting for breaching confidentiality’. Disclosure of Baker's ‘controversial’ suggestion ‘that enquiry agents should be engaged to gather information on Mears/Sayer/Keating’ would be ‘disastrous’. Two senior employees of the Society's public relations consultancy offered free advice about a ‘negative campaign’ ‘on the basis that their involvement would not be known beyond the campaign team’. Mears sought Sycamore's response ‘before considering my position regarding any other information I might hold’.
Sycamore contested ‘the accuracy of the note. I was not there for the whole of the meeting’, which had rejected enquiry agents ‘out of hand’ (p.438) and concluded they could not manipulate Council agendas. ‘In a situation which had become political it was a perfectly legitimate exercise’. At that time ‘many Council members believed (and still believe) that the profession cannot afford to go through another year of turmoil and division with the consequent embarrassment and loss of credibility’. Mears ‘chose’ to disseminate the memo ‘for his own personal advantage rather than first send it to and seek any explanation from his Council colleagues’. Baker called the meeting a ‘brainstorming session’. ‘Subsequent events are the most eloquent testimony as to what did not happen. …’ Mathews hoped the profession would ‘view this just as a diversion’.
Mears retorted: ‘One cannot talk up a non-existent story. Channel 4 gave it ten minutes of coverage. They approached me, not I them.’ His adversaries complained: ‘This is a very wicked animal. When attacked it defends itself.’ He had sought explanations, but ‘alas, the people turned out either not to have been present or to be suffering from amnesia’. Sycamore and Mathews were ‘unfit to lead the profession’ and should withdraw from the race. ‘This is the Law Society, not some loony-left Council.’ ‘If this Law Society won't sort this out properly, I will take it up with the Master of the Rolls.’
Sayer claimed ‘the simple reality is that the key suggestions were all rejected’. The ‘whole sorry episode is just another example of Martin manufacturing and manipulating the press to win himself publicity’. Mears ‘held meetings at Canon Street prior to the last election to which he invited members of his “Reform Group” ’, providing ‘breakfast at the Law Society's expense’ and discussing the elections.
Sycamore attempted to revive the issues. The Society should ‘lead the debate on franchising, block contracts, mediation pilots and all the current developments in a hardnosed way … rather than hoping we can turn the clock back to open-ended spending’. He opposed ‘knee-jerk’ calls ‘to abolish and attack SIF’. Mears retorted that the only three reasons to vote were ‘the SIF, the SIF and the SIF’, whose shortfall was £724,500,000 or £18,000 per principal ‘in addition to last year’s contribution. ‘It is Martin Mears who has been a consistent critic of the SIF … called for resignations at SIF … [and] an independent investigation into SIF's miscalculations’. He decried ‘the sheer shamelessness of the establishment's campaign’. The ‘revelations of the past week have shown’ the establishment claim to the moral high ground ‘to be the humbug and nonsense it is’. Were those who discussed ‘a dirty tricks campaign’ fit ‘to lead a learned profession?’ Mears had ‘tried to concentrate on the issues and to disregard [Sayer's] increasingly wild personal attacks’. Sycamore could hardly blame Baker: ‘We are not talking about the ravings of a lunatic’.
Sycamore protested that the story had been ‘successfully talked up’. ‘[A]t no stage did I countenance or endorse anything underhand. Many of (p.439) the ideas, and all of the wilder ones, were dismissed or not taken forward.’ But Robin de Wilde (a maverick barrister discussed below) derided these ‘contradictory comments’. The ‘only defences missing were: (a) it was my twin brother; and (b) nothing happened’. He declared that ‘Martin Mears and his cohorts have won on ideas’. The Solicitors Journal said ‘solicitors up and down the country’ had been asking ‘what on earth is going on at the Law Society’. The LAPG chair said the memo was a ‘rude awakening’ to ‘a lot of people [who] thought that solicitors on the Law Society Council don't behave as politicians’. When Baker resigned from both Council and training committee Mears demanded the resignations of Williamson and SIF chair Andrew Kennedy.68
Nevertheless, Sycamore won a landslide victory (by 16,878 to 8,148), Mathews a similar one, and Sayer's was even larger. Girling welcomed the ‘vote of approval’. Mears congratulated them but called the results ‘terribly depressing for the profession’ because the ‘low turn-out’ (30 per cent, compared with 45 the previous year) showed that ‘the profession does not give a damn what happens at the Law Society’. The response to ‘Chancery Lane's recent Leadership of the Profession consultation was a pitiful 457 out of a profession of 83,000’. Although the slate had ‘the active backing of a mere 15 per cent of the profession’, Mears would not run again and found it ‘difficult to stay on as a credible opposition’. He condemned Sayer's ‘highly personalised campaign … against me as a man with whom it was impossible to work’. Sayer called that ‘the harsh truth’ and attributed victory to his statement that the profession needed Mears ‘like a hole in the head’.69
The Solicitors Journal saw the ‘clear and decisive victory for the establishment team’ as an ‘equally clear rejection of the policies of Martin Mears and his team’. But it agreed that the ‘most significant figure’ was the low turnout caused by ‘the very public bickering’ and ‘highly publicised row over leaked documents’, which convinced many solicitors that the Society ‘was becoming a laughing-stock’. Even more, ‘the Society is seen as remote and out of touch’. The New Law Journal observed sarcastically that ‘our heroes … finally defeated the devils’. Sayer should reflect on how he ‘was clearly used by the machine to vilify Mr Mears’ and how he will stay in touch ‘not only with the rank and file solicitor but also with the powerful members of the council’ who may turn against ‘a politically unacceptable upstart … when it comes to what used to be called Buggins' turn’. Although ‘Mears displayed thoroughly unacceptable traits in this day and age’, he did ‘shake up the Society and the profession from its multi-decade long torpor’. ‘[T]here should be a Mr Mears on all Law Society committees but … there is still too much of an old boy network in the election and subsequent induction process’.70
Less than four months into the new administration Kamlesh Bahl declared her candidacy for DVP, with Sayer for VP and Mathews for President. The (p.440) Gazette called her the first potential woman leader (ignoring Pembridge's presidential run two years earlier). Heather Hallett QC was elected BC chair the same week. The YSG warned of a ‘massive communication problem’ because solicitors under 40 were 50 per cent of the profession but 5 per cent of the Council, women were 31 and 19, and ethnic minorities 5 and 3. The Council had given young solicitors a seat in 1991 but rebuffed one for women in 1995. Although Girling, Bahl, Pembridge, and Deacon supported it, as did a majority of the policy committee, the Council again refused by 31 votes to 33 with 3 abstentions, also denying the TSG request for a seat for the 20,000 trainees because only qualified solicitors could belong.71
Creation of the first American-style probate section was another departure from geographical constituencies. The Society promoted it as ‘a way [for members] to reassert themselves’ in the face of ‘competition from banks, accountants, and will writers’. The YSG urged ‘more representation for special interest groups’, such as personal injury and family lawyers. The local law society presidents and secretaries also favoured sections. But the Law Society Commerce and Industry Group resented that its 6,000 members paid £3 million in practising certificate fees but received only £12,300. Sections would make the Law Society ‘more remote, perhaps further disenfranchising the bulk of solicitors’. The SPG and AWS also opposed them. Nevertheless, the Society contemplated a section for EU lawyers, although it planned to exclude other foreign lawyers for fear of American domination.72
Although high-street practitioners were most vocally disaffected, City firms also were unhappy about indemnity premiums, traineeships, audience rights, and public image. The CLLS chair wrote to the Secretary-General in December 1997 asking for a ‘separate civil service’ to address members' ‘neglected’ interests. A contemporaneous survey found that City solicitors thought the Society irrelevant, bureaucratic, intrusive, archaic, focused on small firms, and far too contentious. It should be ‘going round promoting the interests of English law internationally’.73
The 1998 Fabian Society pamphlet argued that government regulation of lawyers would make the Society ‘more accountable to representing the needs of its membership’. Holland (now principal ombudsman at the Personal Investment Authority) agreed that ‘extended annual elections based on who can do most for the high street solicitor’ destroyed the pretence ‘there can be any real reflection of the need to protect the client’. Sycamore disagreed, insisting that the ‘long-term commercial interests of solicitors are inextricably linked to the standards of service given to clients’.74
In February Bahl called for a ‘positive’ election campaign and an end to ‘whispers and innuendo’, after reports that a Council member had called her ‘not sufficiently representative of the profession’. Contemporaneously, the policy committee (chaired by Girling) revived a proposal that the (p.441) Council nominate the DVP. Sayer condemned ‘a little group plotting in secret’ over his successor. Pembridge detected ‘the dead hand of past presidents trying to control the future’. Insisting ‘this is not my idea’, Girling found it ‘difficult to explain how traumatic it is’ to stand for office. Trevor Murray deplored the ‘message to the profession that we are going back to our pre-1995 ways’. Mathews opposed ‘playing with the rules in the middle of the game’. ‘It wasn't a plan to nobble Kamlesh’, Mcintosh insisted. ‘I'm against Buggins' Turn.’ Angus Andrew also denied this was ‘a "Get Kamlesh Bahl" campaign’. ‘We need a mechanism to allow Council members to put themselves forward’ after ‘Martin Mears broke a discredited voting system’. But only seventeen Council members agreed.75
As DVP Sayer continued to criticize the Society for devoting ‘just 4.5% of its expenditure … [to] membership services’ and 1.5 staff to conveyancing. With 800 employees its staff was ‘greater than that of the American Bar Association despite its having four times as many members’. He wanted to spend money ‘educating the public, politicians and media that we are not “fat cats”’. The Society had just conducted ‘the first objective test of what people think since I joined the Council’ (three years earlier). ‘Can you imagine Marks & Spencer taking so long to do market research of this kind?’ ‘Most of the committees should be shut down.’76
In April Mathews and Sayer hoped rumours that Napier and Mcintosh would contest the election were unfounded. Napier acknowledged considering requests from people ‘inside and outside the Council’. A month later Mcintosh challenged Sayer. He had built ‘from scratch a successful law firm on the basis “the client comes first”’ and knew about indemnity insurance and civil justice reform. He had ‘sufficient communication skills’ (insinuating Sayer did not). Solicitors needed to ‘tak[e] pride in the way the profession is led by the Law Society’. The Bar had gained a competitive ‘edge’ from the ‘disarray and unfocused leadership within the Law Society a few years ago. A repeat of this would play into the hands of today's government’, which ‘appears hostile to the private legal profession’. Just as Mears and Sayer had attacked Buggins's turn, so Mcintosh now did against Sayer. The profession had to be led ‘by those best equipped to do so’; there were ‘still widespread doubts … as to whether all the top spots have been filled as effectively as possible. Critics and challengers do not always develop into healers and achievers.’ Sayer had failed ‘to learn from his ex-collaborator's shortcomings’. Mcintosh would have run for DVP, but ‘a woman office holder with her distinct points of view would be good for the profession’. Napier called Mcintosh ‘the right person in the right place at the right time’.
Mears mocked Mcintosh (implicated in the previous year's dirty tricks), who had ‘strident[ly]’ opposed contested elections and ‘eloquent[ly]’ supported Sayer on the Sycamore ‘dream ticket’. But Mears also gloated over (p.442) this challenge to his own Judas, who had been ‘out machiavelled’. Sayer should ‘meditate on the fate of those who change their colours’. Although he had taken ‘the establishment shilling’ to ‘see … off the troublemakers’, Sayer's ‘new shipmates’ regarded him ‘as incurably unsound and, to boot, not the kind of person you would invite to take tea with the Queen Mother’; they would have ‘no compunction about tossing him to the sharks’.
He turns out not to be a team player. He leaks to the press and circulates memoranda of his own. He persists (albeit half heartedly) in thinking his own thoughts and speaking his own words_And moreover, it is doubtful whether Sayer has taken the trouble to learn the correct mode of consuming a cucumber sandwich in polite company.
Confirming Mears's prediction, the Solicitors Journal welcomed the challenge. ‘What is needed is strong leadership, one which understands the needs of solicitors and is committed to fight on their behalf.’
Sayer was ‘saddened’ that Mcintosh's statements about ‘cooperation’ had not been ‘sincere’. ‘At a time when we should all be working together for the good of the profession his personal ambitions are going to plunge us into another bout of damaging and unnecessary infighting.’
Mcintosh retorted he was ‘far from alone in questioning Robert Sayer's suitability to lead’. Sayer ‘too often pursued his own agenda in maverick and damaging ways’. ‘The fact that Robert Sayer claimed I am standing for office because I dislike him says more about him than it does about me.’77
Napier declared a week later to offer ‘the strongest possible leadership at this watershed time’. Mathews was ‘naturally disappointed’. He had the advantage of two years in office. ‘We're agreed on what the important issues are—legal aid, civil justice, indemnity insurance—and I doubt if we disagree on how they should be dealt with’. Sayer called Napier ‘selfish’. ‘We need another contested election like a hole in the head. He is shattering the consensus we have all been working for.’ Contested elections ‘are widely seen as divisive and damaging to the profession's reputation. The first was necessary.’ But by the third ‘the profession clearly signalled that it wanted us to stop squabbling and get on with it’. Mcintosh had been ‘part of the group that decided to ask me to join its coalition. He was part of my campaign team. …’ It was ‘odd that he now finds me unacceptable’.
Law Society politics are the same as politics anywhere else. Petty, undignified, dominated by ambition. Idealists are considered fools. To speak the truth is frowned upon; rocking the boat is a sin. I plead guilty to being an idealist and to speaking the truth.
Mcintosh was ‘just the establishment's latest champion to “try to see that Sayer fellow off once and for all”’. ‘I have now won two elections. Last time I received the highest vote of any candidate, ever.’ He condemned ‘wasting £70,000 of the profession's money on another election’. ‘[T]his is not (p.443) a game. This is about our livelihoods, our survival_Why are we being plunged into nothing more than another bout of “student union” politics …?’ Mathews and he had achieved consensus, ‘the adult way to behave’.
Napier took credit for ‘the small, rapid-reaction task force’ on the legal aid reforms and ‘snappy and effective communication’. As a ‘corporate tax lawyer’, Mathews was not the right person ‘to shoulder the burden of tackling the other massive threats of exclusive block contracts … and the crunch question of indemnity’. ‘My roots are in the high street, David's in the City.’78
A week later David Keating announced his independent candidacy for DVP. The profession's response to its challenges would mean ‘life or death for the rural practice’, which ‘still provide[s] a vast network across the countryside’. Bahl's lack of private practice experience ‘would make it very difficult for her to represent the whole profession adequately’. Mears backed his ‘friend and associate’ and called Mathews ‘a complete non-starter’ for president. Bahl retorted that her youth and gender made her more representative. Employed lawyers were a ‘bridge to clients’. She understood ‘a great deal about competition’ and would promote solicitors as the ‘first choice’ for trusted legal advisers, publicly funded legal services, commercial legal transactions, and access to justice.79
Mathews and Sayer took a full-page Gazette advertisement denouncing the contest as ‘divisive’, ‘irresponsible’, ‘a waste of time and money’, a ‘game’, which was ‘damaging the reputation in the eyes of the public’. ‘In place of continual, disruptive and increasingly pointless Presidential elections, [we] will carry out the most far reaching and democratic review of the Society's policies there has ever been.’ Napier retorted: ‘everyone knows I do not “play games”’. His decision had ‘been completely validated by [Sayer's] view from the wrong end of the telescope’. The ‘urgent need’ was ‘to tackle the new, and grave, threats to our ability to practise’, not ‘rhetoric about reform of the Law Society's constitution or complaints about democracy’. He again contrasted his ticket's balance of high street and City with the ‘curious alliance’ of Mathews and Sayer.
Mathews conceded that he was ‘not a legal aid lawyer, but that does not mean that I have no interest in it or that I know nothing about it’. Sayer and he had served on the Justice Task Force campaign to save legal aid. Leadership required ‘breadth of experience and the ability to understand the many difficult issues which affect our careers’, such as multidisciplinary partnerships, access to venture capital, FSA regulation, and limited liability. ‘Michael Napier suggests that I am second best.’
ne does not get to be the senior partner in a major department in a leading City firm and to have been a member of that firm's board and its predecessor bodies for some 20 years by being ‘second best’.80
(p.444) The campaign quickly degenerated into personal attacks. In an open letter Mcintosh accused Sayer of ‘the dissemination of inaccurate information’ without a ‘scintilla of truth’ (that Napier had planned to stand for DVP in order to challenge Sayer for president the following year). Sayer insisted he was ‘absolutely convinced’ of it. Mcintosh was an ‘egomaniac’. ‘[T]his is a contest between someone who is sincere and genuinely wants to reform the Society, and someone who wants the job purely because he has reached a certain stage in his life and thinks he deserves it.’ Mcintosh called Sayer ‘incapable of avoiding personal criticisms’.
It is hard to believe that you and Michael Mathews agreed with Michael Napier and me that this year's election would be a clean one. Perhaps I should have believed you when you said ‘old habits die hard’.81
Mathews claimed his team ‘represented a wider cross section of the profession than ever before’. Sayer said the defence of legal aid had to express ‘the interests of all firms, not just the big fish’ (like Napier). Mcintosh promised to ‘think young and of equal opportunities’. Bahl declared ‘we must become a modern, effective and inclusive profession’. Keating harped on the fact that ‘Miss Bahl’ had ‘no experience whatsoever of practice in the private sector’, had not been ‘exposed to the rigours of practice’, had only an ‘academic’ concern about legal aid, and could not represent ‘the whole profession’. She claimed ‘a unique blend of experience which the Society currently lacks’. He retorted: ‘I have spent most of my working life’ in ‘a typical medium sized country practice’. The Independent called Bahl ‘a refreshing change from the endless parade of white men’ but found her ‘actual policies’ vague. Mathews declined Napier's challenge to debate at local law societies: ‘Hustings at this stage aren't terribly relevant’.82
He was right, but just barely, getting 53 per cent, while his running mates received 55 and 57, in a poll that fell to 26 per cent. The Gazette called Bahl's victory ‘long overdue’, given the Bar's woman chair and ILEX's third woman president. Bahl planned to resign as EOC chair to concentrate on the Society and seek the presidency in two years. She was a conservative activist who sought to ensure ‘that equality for women is not at the expense of men and balancing work and home’.83
In response to the RPPU study revealing pervasive member dissatisfaction, the Society commissioned Sir Dennis Stevenson, chair of Pearson plc, to review its work and organization. He predictably advocated a corporate model: ad hoc task forces in place of the 141 committees and working parties, an executive committee to oversee policy implementation, a more powerful Secretary-General and figurehead president, and election of only the DVP because ‘contested presidential elections … were making the Society a laughing stock’. The CLLS chair agreed that recent elections had been ‘disheartening’. They might be ‘appropriate’ ‘now and (p.445) then’, but ‘an unplanned change of policy and priority every year’ was intolerable.
How will we ever encourage the best of our members to devote the time and commitment to the good of our profession … unless there is a culture which enables the most talented to rise quickly to leadership without risk of wasting their efforts because of the vagaries of the electoral process?
Sayer wanted the Society to become ‘a true members' organisation, looking after the interests of solicitors in a sensible way’, not ‘an old fashioned dinosaur trade union but something similar to the American Bar Association’. The three officers wanted policy set by the Council, not the staff. Contemporaneously the Society spent £60,000 on ‘better branding’ the profession's image.
Calling the £1.8 million a year committee system a ‘heaving mess’, the working party to implement Stevenson's report recommended abolishing forty-eight of the first seventy-seven committees it evaluated. The Council concurred and also voted to replace the Secretary-General with a policy-making Director-General, pay itself salaries, and elect only the DVP. The Solicitors Journal found that last ‘worrying’. Without ‘the prospect of aMears revolution’, ‘all the profession will be able to do if things go horribly wrong is elect a deputy vice president’. Sayer, the professional outsider, now discovered the importance of ‘at least a year's apprenticeship’. Although he worried about moves ‘away from democracy’, the proposals ‘combined democratic accountability with continuity’.84
When the TSG renewed its request for a Council seat, calling its 25,000 members paying £250 a year ‘the largest unrepresented group’, the Council promptly gave one of the two local government seats to newly qualified solicitors. Furious at not being consulted, the Local Government Group assailed the ‘shambolic and amateur’ action and sought counsel's opinion about its legality. After lengthy debate, the Council reversed its position by one vote, giving newly qualified solicitors only observer status. The New Law Journal condemned the original decision as an ‘amazing volte face’ that had been ‘filibusted [sic] though the Council’. ‘Employed solicitors are part of the family. …’85
The Commerce and Industry Group chair also accused the Council of ignoring employed lawyers. At its annual dinner the Group charged the Society with ‘crass stupidity’ and threatened secession. It would be ‘a tremendous shame and indictment of our profession’ if ‘some of this country's most talented solicitors started to give up their practising certificates’, as was ‘beginning to happen’. That the Society gave the Group only £2 of the £450 practising certificate fee paid by its 7,335 members was ‘amazing, particularly as in-house lawyers do not account for the normal main areas of Law Society expenditure, such as disciplinary’. The Group already offered (p.446) training and events and planned to hire its own administrative staff and seek financial support from employers.86
At the end of the Commons Standing Committee's consideration of the Access to Justice Act (AJA) in mid-May, Dr Alan Whitehead moved to limit the Society's practising certificate fees to regulation and legal training and education (paralleling the limitation on the Bar Council's new fees: see section B, below). ‘[N]o other professional society’ had the power ‘to do what it will with the money provided to it’. Parliament had required trade unions to ‘set up a political fund and hold a ballot’. Andrew Dismore criticized ‘the campaign that [the Society] waged in regard to the Bill’. ‘If the Law Society operates as a trade union, the same rules should apply.’ Briefed by the Society, Edward Garnier QC objected that a ‘sharp division’ of functions was ‘not practical’ and would ‘involve considerable duplication of activities and additional overall cost’. ‘Any attempt to prevent the Law Society from running the sort of campaign that it has done in the past 10 days [against the AJA, see Chapter 8] could amount to unlawful suppression of freedom of expression. …’ David Kidney feared that ‘voluntary subions’ would not pay for the ‘sort of work [that] puts the Law Society in a positive light’. John Burnett, a member of the Society's revenue law committee for twelve years, praised its ‘work in the public interest’. Geoff Hoon thanked Whitehead for ‘raising the significant issue of principle’ and promised Government action. ‘The day of pre-entry closed shops are [sic] ended for trade unions and should not apply to other bodies acting in a similar way’.87
The LAPG chair called the threat ‘pointless and vindictive’. LS President Mathews ‘pointed out the difficulties in classifying the core activities’. But the Bar Council, which wanted to compel subions, was willing to separate functions and the LCD thought ‘the Bill should be even-handed’. Doctors and dentists ‘maintain a divide between regulatory activities and “trade union” activities. There is a good argument that members of a profession should not be required to pay for activities that they may not support. …’ The New Law Journal called Irvine's action ‘vindictive’ and ‘sinister’. It was ‘inappropriate in a democracy for such a fundamental change in the constitution of an independent profession to be introduced through an amendment to a Bill already in its late stages’. The Society took advice on whether it would be illegal under UK or EU law. Seeking to avoid a ‘full-scale row’, it hoped ‘to kill off the amendment quietly through behind the scenes negotiations’. Solicitors who resented their SIF premiums ‘may balk at having to pay extra to their professional body in order for it to represent their interests’. Mears disagreed. Irvine's ‘inept’ ‘little wheeze’ will ‘have the effect, never previously achieved, of rallying solicitors around their professional body’. The Government's ‘behaviour is that of the bully who does not see the need to argue’. The Council created (p.447) a working party to consider the Society's dual roles. Trevor Aldridge QC argued that fission would increase ‘openness, accountability, freedom of choice’. ‘The Society would be strengthened by the support of members voting with their wallets.’
During the Report Stage on 22 June LCD Parliamentary Under-Secretary Keith Vaz moved a similar amendment. Irvine asked the Society to state within eighteen months what other activities it wanted to fund; he would consider those that ‘were clearly in the public interest or had the overwhelming support of Law Society members’. When Kidney expressed concern that the Government might retaliate against the Society for political opposition, Vaz insisted ‘there is no question of trying to prevent the Law Society from doing what it wants to do’. Garnier attributed the clause to the ‘pique’ of a Lord Chancellor ‘stung’ into using ‘fairly intemperate language’ about the advertising campaign, one who ‘will brook no criticism’ and ‘is not prepared to have debated in public any matter of which he disapproves’. Vaz maintained the ‘Lord Chancellor cares deeply for the profession’. The clause ‘has nothing to do with any Law Society advertising campaign’. Dismore found Garnier's position ‘peculiar’ ‘bearing in mind the strong attitude that [Conservatives] took when in government to trade union political funds’. Burnett said ‘Liberal Democrats strongly oppose … a vindictive measure against the Law Society for, rightly … opposing the removal of legal aid for personal injury cases’. ‘Where has he been?’ Vaz asked, ‘what has he been taking?’ ‘It could be argued that an unfettered power to raise compulsory subions conflicts with that fundamental [European] human rights convention’. The amendment was agreed. The Lords voiced similar concerns three weeks later. Lords Mishcon and Hunt moved to allow the Society to spend fees on ‘work in the public interest’. Lord Phillips moved to give the Master of the Rolls a veto over limitations. ‘It will be too easy for a Lord Chancellor stung by a campaign against his government policy to ignore his own conflict position’. But both amendments were withdrawn and the clause added.88
Sayer (and Mears again)
Anticipating Stevenson's recommendation that only the DVP be contested, Napier declared his candidacy for that post. Keating, who had lost the last three elections, promptly challenged him. Mears sneered that Napier sought ‘to deprive the wise and saintly David Keating of the Law Society's Deputy Vice Presidency which is rightly his’. Solicitors did not ‘want more elections this year’. Napier had no ‘particular programmes or ideas’. ‘If he has ambitions, let him seek the grand mastership of his local Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes lodge.’ Keating was ‘erudite and witty’ and ‘sports’ a monocle, ‘whereas I cannot remember what Mr Napier looks like’.
(p.448) A month later Keating switched to the presidency. Sayer found ‘no merit whatsoever’ in this challenge, which ‘is throwing a spanner in the works of the reforms’. Keating criticized Sayer's “confrontational’ ‘us-and-them approach’, ‘belligerence and abuse’. Mears had been ‘very supportive’, but ‘no one pulls my strings’. Solicitors were not ‘“turned off” by open elections’, although they ‘rightly object’ to ‘personal abuse or belittlement. I do not intend to go down this path’. The New Law Journal thought Sayer was ‘entitled to an uninterrupted sip from the cup which had been poised tantalisingly above his lips these last two years’. Keating would face ‘the very real possibility of numbing hostility in and out of the Council chamber’. The election was just another in a ‘series of increasingly boring challenges for leadership’ between ‘two men whose names probably mean absolutely nothing to the majority of voters’.
Sayer attacked the challenge as ‘an expensive piece of spite at a cost to the profession of £100,000’. ‘[T]he last thing the profession needs is another election’, which ‘will only damage the Law Society's credibility’. ‘I'll be blunt. I and the rest of the eight strong team working with me have worked miracles.’ In just six weeks he had negotiated with lenders the terms for acting for lender and borrower. ‘[F]or the first time in memory the Law Society was learning how to stand up for its members intelligently and confidently’ in the campaign against the AJA. ‘[W]e've achieved more in the last six months than we did in the previous 20 years.’ Now, however, the ‘government is probably sniggering that the Law Society has gone up its own backside again’. Under Mears ‘the Society degenerated into a period of confrontation, chaos and bitterness’. Mears ‘has never forgiven me’ for the ‘very public falling out’. ‘David is Martin's loyal sidekick’, ‘a complete pillock’, who fell asleep at Council meetings. His supporters were ‘bitter, twisted little people’ like Mears, who kept turning up ‘like a piece of dog turd on your shoe’.
Keating (who claimed to think better with his eyes closed) denounced the ‘disgraceful’ attack. ‘[I]t was disgusting that he expressed himself publicly in such a way, but the language was not a surprise to me. People will now have a better understanding of what kind of man Robert Sayer is.’ Girling deplored Sayer's ‘intemperacy’. His ‘passion is sometimes too often, too quick and too visible’. The New Law Journal thought it
sad that the Law Society has come to the stage in its decline that words which would be out of place if spoken by a football manager are said to a legal magazine. The Bar must be rubbing its hands … ‘No need to worry about solicitor-advocates usurping our position if that's the level of debate they can manage.’
The Solicitors Journal expressed ‘an unpleasant feeling of déjà vu’: ‘the acrimonious exchanges have begun almost before the ink on the nomination papers has had time to dry’. The ‘descent into personal abuse’ was ‘deplorable. Elections should be about policies, not personalities.’
(p.449) Mears could not hide his glee. ‘For Mr Sayer, electioneering means six weeks of vituperation and personal vilification.’ He claimed to be ‘reluctant to give further currency to these graceful reflections but they are very much in character’. However, like Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing—‘masters, remember that I am an ass … forget not that I am an ass’—Mears could not stop repeating the insult. Keating would not ‘be capable’ of responding in kind. ‘Grossness should be met with charity and forbearance.’
Sayer said Keating failed to offer a ‘challenge based on issues’, such as high-street profitability, regulation, indemnity, MDPs, and the profession's reputation. Sayer also invoked the Council recommendation to elect only the DVP, on which the July AGM would vote. ‘Does anyone honestly think this [election] is worth’ £100,000? The C&I Group chair called Keating's candidacy ‘nonsense’ (although Sayer's slate was only ‘pretty good’).
Trevor Murray now challenged Napier for DVP, blaming him for conditional fees. ‘[T]hrough concentrating on politically correct posturing’ the Society ‘has consistently played into the hands of its enemies and thereby managed to oversee the systematic devastation of the profession’. ‘We have been wasting our time and our colleagues' money fiddling with concerns about “equal opportunities” and people's “rights” while the profession is being destroyed for us all.’ He was a self-made man. ‘I left grammar school at 16 and was admitted as a solicitor aged 22 in early 1963. No privilege in that background.’ ‘I worked extremely hard and was able, single-handedly, to enjoy building up my practice and privately to educate five children.’ Once ‘solicitors' services were valued by clients and the status of the profession was appreciated and respected both by society and government.’ But ‘all that has changed’ as a result of ‘politicians' hunger to garner misguided “consumer” votes’ and ‘other dangerous people, quislings in a sense, who look to government or depend on its patronage for their personal achievement’. ‘Any resistance from us is now portrayed as the reactionary self-interest of those who want to live in the privileged past.’ The ‘diplomatic solution’ was ‘discredited’. The £700,000 advertising campaign against the AJA ‘managed to rattle the Lord Chancellor. We need to do that more often. It will raise the morale of the members and help the Society to regain its self-respect.’ Napier denounced such ‘rantings of yesteryear’ as ‘completely out of step with the way society is moving’. Murray was ‘living on another planet’. Murray accused the TSG of endorsing Napier without disclosing that its chair had been employed by Napier's firm.
But this was just a sideshow. Keating sued his local newspaper for quoting Sayer under the headline ‘Town Solicitor Branded Pillock’ (and won in September). He denied ‘not help[ing] the reform process one bit’ and blamed Sayer for keeping him off the Interim Executive Committee. ‘[A] number of other Council members’ had ‘concerns at Robert Sayer's “negative qualities”’. Keating took full-page advertisements in all three solicitors' (p.450) journals repeating Sayer's vulgarities, which the Independent called an ‘outpouring of vitriol’. ‘I had wanted to fight the election campaign on issues rather than personalities but Mr Sayer has now made this impossible.’ Sayer had indulged in ‘scurrilous abuse and ridicule’, which were ‘particularly’ ‘unseemly … in a professional election’. He ‘has been vocal in demanding the abolition of the profession's right to elect its President on the ground that such elections bring the profession into disrepute. It is of course language of the kind which he—and only he—uses which drags us all down.’ The ‘President's chief role is to present the face of the profession to the outside world’, which ‘is the real issue in this election’.
Sayer conceded that elections cost much less than the £100,000 he kept quoting. He had privately offered an apology, but Mears rejected it and Keating did not respond. He refused to ‘grovel’. ‘It suits them to make a meal of this. They haven't got any policies, and can't attack my track record, because no-one has got a better one.’ ‘I have been doing the lion's share of media interviews for the last six months. I am good at them. I make one error under extreme provocation and, of course, that is what has been reported.’ He had thought it
was off the record and private. I was annoyed at having this election sprung on me without warning, and about comments which attacked me personally. For five seconds in five years I let my frustration show.
Seeking to retain the moral high ground, Keating said ‘the whole issue should be put to one side’. He had not replied because he wanted to ‘keep things defused’, and Sayer kept insisting his slurs were ‘in essence true’. Playing bad cop to Keating's good, Mears could see ‘no limit to Mr Robert Sayer's effrontery’. He ‘subjected me and other Law Society Council members to unprecedented abuse’. Sayer only regretted ‘his words because they gave ammunition to his opponents and no [sic] because they were disgraceful’. ‘I attached little value to a private apology for a public insult, particularly when it was plain’ the real purpose was ‘to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the profession’. It was not ‘a solitary outburst. A few weeks ago he insulted Mr Keating and myself to our faces.’ The President has to ‘argue with the Lord Chancellor’ and ‘make small talk with Cherie Blair when she drops in for tea’. Sayer's language was ‘notorious … to call people pillocks and dog turds does not enhance the concept of R Sayer BA as Statesman and Leader of a Learned Profession’.
Like an old War veteran bringing out his medals to show his grandchildren, he recalls the glorious days gone by when he (and he alone!) uncovered the Regis computer scandal and strafed the landing fields of the High Street Starter Kit. … Very few of the alleged reforms at Chancery Lane amount, under scrutiny, to very much.
(p.451) Noting that a Yorkshire solicitor had been struck off the Roll for saying a Registrar ‘had as much credibility as a cow pat’, BLA chair Stanley Best declared Sayer ‘must suffer the same treatment’.
Sayer asked Keating to ‘draw a line’ under the controversy but got no reply to his written apology. Charged with harping on the issue because he had no others, Keating said Sayer had apologized only for the terminology, not the sentiments, so he was ‘not certain to what extent there was an apology’. ‘What the profession needs is open and honest leadership and a united approach, rather than an “us and them” approach.’ Sayer tried again, expressing regret ‘for various reasons. The first is simply because it was discourteous and I have of course apologised.’ ‘More importantly, I regret it because it has given my opponents such pleasure.’ He begged solicitors: ‘Judge me on my record’. The fourth time he said: ‘Four weeks ago, for ten seconds, after considerable provocation, I … made an unguarded statement not intended for publication’. The epithet about Keating ‘was a northern dialect word for a foolish person (OE). The description of former Law Society President Mr Mears was a reflection of the tenacity or sticking power of what I regard as his three-year campaign unfairly to denigrate me and my attempts at reform.’ Keating ‘ignored my apology and has gone on to build his entire election campaign around it, even to the extent of repeating the original comments in a half-page advert in the Gazette’.
Sayer and Napier won with greatly increased margins (64 and 63 per cent) in the ‘lowest poll ever’ (21.7 per cent); Bahl was unopposed.89 Implementing the recommendations by Stevenson (and subsequent reports by Dame Rennie Fitchie and Professor Malcolm Grant), the Council replaced the Secretary-General with a Director-General responsible for strategy, continued reducing the number of groups, meetings, and committees, and raised officer pay (having already decided to pay its members £5 £l2,000 per year).90
At the annual conference Sayer called for ‘a fresh, modern organisation’ to replace ‘an old Law Society … stale and out of touch’. ‘Many solicitors will probably agree that in recent years the Society had got a bit above itself. It seemed to think it ran the profession.’ But he promptly shed such modesty by exhibiting Napoleonic delusions, possibly induced by venue (EuroDisneyland). The Law Society should regulate the Bar. After all, ‘what other organisation would say “We're ten times as big as you but we're going to have equal shares?”’ Disregarding pressures for fission from members, Government, and critics, he pronounced: ‘If we regulate them all, we may as well represent them all’. (Four years earlier a staff Ginger Group had proposed ‘to utilise the superior facilities of the Society to work with or take over the Bar’.91)
(p.452) In December Kamlesh Bahl, poised to become President, was accused of bullying and intimidation by three Society staff, backed by their trade union, quickly prompting fifteen to twenty additional charges. Union sources at the EOC (which Bahl had directed) said she had bullied there too (although the two victims had not formally complained). During a week of turmoil Sayer asked her to leave Chancery Lane. She felt ‘so intimidated’ that her mother and sister accompanied her the next day. A closed Council meeting, from which she was barred, decided not to ask her to stand down during the investigation. The SBL, Metropolitan Black Police Association, Association of Black Probation Officers, and National Assembly Against Racism supported her. SBL chair Peter Herbert expressed ‘a great deal of suspicion that Ms Bahl herself may be the subject of a campaign of bullying and intimidation’.
Lord Griffiths, asked to investigate by the Lord Chancellor, upheld all five complaints in early March. Bahl refused to resign and threatened to challenge the process, claiming Cherie Booth QC had advised her it was ‘a clear breach’ of the ECHR and disregarded ‘the most basic principles of natural justice’. She urged the Council to allow an appeal and demanded ‘a full inquiry into the background and circumstances which led to the Griffiths inquiry’. ‘For a small but influential group of people, my face did not fit within the Law Society given my background in industry as against private practice and my ethnicity and gender.’ The Society said it ‘acted for one simple reason: it had a duty to its employees to do so’. The complaints ‘were investigated by a fully independent third party’, and she ‘had the benefit of legal representation paid for by the Law Society’. The Manufacturing, Science and Finance union, which represented the complainants, said the report had found Bahl ‘demeaning and humiliating’ and ‘offensively aggressive’. She had ‘in many ways … usurped the secretary-general's role as head of staff and introduced an atmosphere of fear and confusion in the line of command’. It threatened to strike if she did not resign. A week later the Council voted by 38 to 3 with 7 abstentions to suspend her and called an SGM to approve. Bahl promptly resigned but pursued her action for race and sex discrimination against the Society, which ‘entirely reject[ed] the allegations’. ‘Nothing should obscure the fact that the real issue here is bullying in the workplace.’ (The employment tribunal found that Sayer and Betts had discriminated against her but also that she had deliberately lied to it under oath. They appealed, as did the Council over the opposition of President Mcintosh, whom Bahl promptly accused of victimizing her.92)
When Napier replaced Bahl, the Council chose David Mcintosh as DVP over seven other candidates in a close vote. In early May Sayer declared his candidacy for a second term to continue the ‘radical reform’ necessary to keep the profession from being ‘indifferent’ or ‘actively hostile’ to the (p.453) Society, inviting Napier and Mcintosh to join him. There should be no challenge ‘if people accept … that my motives are honourable, decent and made for the right reasons’. But Mcintosh was ‘somewhat disappointed’ that Sayer ‘did not think it proper to give me any advance warning’. And Paul Pharaoh said Sayer ‘did not enjoy the confidence of the Law Society's Council, a substantial part of the profession or the significant external stakeholders’. Napier challenged Sayer, offering the Society ‘new and strong’ leadership ‘in order to better represent a much-changed profession, shed itself of its recent problems and present a re-focused and respected image’. Mcintosh joined him on a ticket whose members ‘trust’ each other.
Bogan challenged Mcintosh, hinting he might join Sayer, whose decision to stand was ‘absolutely right’. The Society ‘lurched from one crisis to the next because it has failed to recognise that in a consumer society there is an impossible conflict between regulation and representation. …’ It was on ‘completely the wrong course’ and should ‘return to its roots and become an effective representative body’ promoting ‘your interests’. (A survey found that 59 per cent favoured a split but only 35 per cent wanted the Society to retain representation.)
Sayer was ‘terribly disappointed’. He felt a ‘duty’ to achieve his reforms. The election was ‘not about personal ambition, “politics” or internal squabbling. It is a serious battle for the soul of the profession.’ He wanted a Society ‘which protects its members and looks after their interests’. It ‘seemed to have abandoned whole sections of the profession … staff and Council members openly said small firms were an embarrassment …’ When ‘the Society accepted a zero pay rise for the first time’ the government imposed it repeatedly because ‘the Society showed itself to be weak’. The OSS had far too many employees (550), and Napier wanted ‘the Society to become a pure regulator’. He blamed the ‘turbulence’ on the ‘pretty relentless’ ‘opposition to change’.
Napier pronounced it ‘throwing-out time at the last chance saloon’. Sayer had promised to end ‘continual disruptive elections’. But ‘not content with one year as President like everyone else, he has pushed himself forward, causing another election this year’. ‘Why, having been at the top for the last five turbulent years, should he be given yet another opportunity to lead us?’ Napier promised to ‘restore stability’. ‘No President can work without the support of the Council, as Robert Sayer seems to believe’. Fission, though ‘superficially attractive’, would ‘simply throw out the baby with the bath water and split the profession’. He would ‘protect solicitors' market share against the inroads of unqualified advisers (wills, employment, personal injury, etc.)’. Mcintosh and he joined three City firms to propose a forum for ‘regular and direct input on issues crucial’ to them.
Mcintosh said some leaders listened ‘only to themselves’ and pursued ‘individual agendas’. He wanted a ‘clean sweep that provides leaders with (p.454) high reputations’. Sayer was an ‘over-staying President’ who had been in office for the ‘worst’ five years in the Society's history. Bogan's practice was more ‘an estate agent's than a solicitor's’. ‘[W]e do not want the Law Society to become a trade union only.’ Both women DVP candidates opposed those ‘two odd men out’.
There were three DVP candidates. The ‘recent friction and political infighting’ and ‘politicisation of the role of the Society's office-holders’, said Carolyn Kirby, ‘has been significantly detrimental to good leadership’. Effective action ‘requires an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation which has been regrettably lacking in the past year’. Hilary Siddle agreed that ‘activities at Chancery Lane over the past months have been disastrous for the profession and have damaged our reputation with government and the public’. ‘We need people who can work with others, not against them … who are more concerned about representing the interests of the profession than their own interests’. ‘When Council and the office-holders are at total odds, the Law Society becomes ineffective and discredited.’ David Savage ‘always said that it is not for me to look after the public interest. There are others, alas all too many you may feel, who do that.’ He had been in ‘opposition’ to the Council for ten years. OSS costs were ‘spiralling’. There was ‘too much bickering’ in the Council. ‘I cannot claim to be a Law Society “worthy” who has chaired this or that committee. I have not written any learned tome. I do not represent the big battalions.’
Napier trounced Sayer (66 per cent) and Mcintosh beat Bogan (60 per cent); Kirby won at the second stage of the transferable vote. The turnout fell to a new low of 18.6 percent.93
Whereas nineteenth-century solicitors had to create a governing body, the Bar sought to reform existing institutions: the four Inns (to which students were admitted and then belonged throughout their careers) and ten Circuits (later amalgamated into six). As transportation improved and the provincial Bar grew, the Circuits declined in importance. The Inns were ruled by a self-perpetuating oligarchy of benchers (about 400 in 1966). Following the closure of Serjeants Inn in 1875 and dispersal to the other four Inns of the judges, they and silks basically divided governance, leaving the 90 per cent of the Bar who were juniors represented by less than 8 per cent of benchers. For this reason, and because the Inns resisted collective action, a mass meeting to oppose the Judicature Act 1873 (which threatened to shift work to solicitors) drew over 2,000 barristers (most of the practising Bar) and led, ten years later, to formation of the Bar Committee. Like all voluntary associations, it had difficulty attracting and retaining members and had to be revived a decade later (as the Bar Council). But (p.455) within two years nearly 2,000 voted in its first elections, and membership grew steadily to 90 per cent of private practitioners by 1968 (if far less of employed barristers). It kept subions affordable by relying heavily on the Inns for income. The Council narrowly rejected compulsion, leaving it free to champion barristers' interests, first by elaborating restrictive practices and then in corporatist negotiations over legal aid. While less oligarchic than the Inns, fewer than a third of its members were juniors and just 10 per cent were employed barristers (about half the Bar).
In 1966 the Inns co-ordinated their activities though a newly created Senate, in which their twenty-eight members dominated the BC's six. Six years later the Pearce Committee recommended a single governing body, with more elected members, compulsory subions, and financial independence from the Inns. The outcome was a reconstituted 101-person Senate, in which the thirty-nine elected barristers (from the Council) were still outnumbered by benchers, Inn and Circuit representatives, and judges. In 1985 juniors were only 31 per cent, employed barristers 6 per cent, and women less than 4 per cent. The 1979 Royal Commission urged compulsory subions to a single, financially self-sufficient, governing body, a majority of whose members would be elected by ‘the profession as a whole’, and which would ‘adequately represent’ the ‘different bands of seniority, specialists, employed barristers and barristers practising in different parts of the country’, as well as judges and ex officio members of the Inns. Committees should include lay members. But nothing was done.
Internal dissent paralleled external criticism. Robin de Wilde launched the Campaign for the Bar in 1982 because the Council was not helping him collect substantial unpaid fees. The Bar was ‘run by a small clique of the “good and the Great”, who had as little relation to my world as an Eskimo’. He wrote to every practising barrister, proposing a solicitor blacklist, and received a ‘magnificent’ response. ‘But the arrogance and condescension of the then establishment made it clear that as far as they were concerned it was not a problem.’ ‘The judges through the Senate were still too much involved in controlling our lives and the Bar Council seemed to be serving their interests as much as those of the practising Bar.’
In 1985 de Wilde accused the Council of having ‘become merely another arm of the Establishment. The actual interests of the Bar seem to be their last or least important activity.’ There was ‘increasingly, a divide between the specialists who have survived and beaten inflation, and the common lawyers who face continual difficulties, particularly when much of the work is founded [sic] by civil legal aid’. The Council should reflect ‘the need, interests and concerns of the Bar as a whole, rather than the present dominance by the prosperous’. The 1,500 barristers ‘in the provinces always receive a raw deal’. The twenty-five-member Bar Committee was ‘stuffed with silks’ and had only two juniors. The Council's policy ‘seems to (p.456) be a mixture of appeasing The Law Society and taking care not to upset any other body, such as the Lord Chancellor's Department or the Treasury’. He wanted to end the 10 per cent discount for legally aided High Court work. ‘The Criminal Bar is being destroyed by the Treasury and the bureaucracy.’ The Council ‘should study the tactics used by the British Medical Association who represent their doctors so well’. ‘In this jungle we call our society, there are tigers around and some of them would like to eat us.’ ‘I would prefer to shoot the tigers.’ Anthony Scrivener QC, who headed the Campaign slate, also advocated ‘a BMA type and style of professionalism … devoted to protecting and furthering the interests of its members to the benefit of the public’. De Wilde proposed direct election of the BC chair, previously ‘a position handed around amongst right thinking people, like a magic wand. What used to happen is that each Chairman effectively appointed his successor but three.’ The current chair and vice chair offered a vague reply, embracing most of the concrete proposals but ignoring election procedures.
The Campaign won all ten seats, attracting 8,767 votes.
[T]he Old Establishment were furious at being out manoeuvred, lost their collective tempers and let it show. One Circuit Leader said … ‘who are these canaille?’ We made sure that as many people as possible, especially the ‘canaille’ knew about that remark
The July 1985 AGM, which considered their proposals, had to be moved to Central Hall, Westminster, to accommodate the more than 1,500 participants. Scrivener, the mover, said the Bar was under attack. The chair needed an election mandate when he negotiated with the Law Society. The Senate, ‘run by a magic circle’, offered a ‘comfortable and patrician’ response. ‘What better expression could there be than a democratic vote?’ Scrivener's peroration that ‘it was time that democracy came to the Bar’ elicited loud and extended applause. Hilary Heilbron moved to await the report of the Rawlinson committee. While ‘the Senate seemed remote and out of touch’, she feared the election of ‘a chairman who did not have the necessary qualifications’. Seconder Peter Clarke, a self-described ‘London criminal hack’, said that when he heard the word democracy he ‘reached for his revolver’. Her amendment narrowly failed, and Scrivener's was carried. The Senate President, the Rt Hon Sir Nicolas Browne-Wilkinson, ViceChancellor, asked for a separate vote on Heilbron's amendment, which failed again. The Campaign Council members then sought appointment to the twenty-five-member Bar Committee, securing a clear majority. Both motions were put to postal ballots (though the Campaign abandoned direct elections for officers). The Daily Mail reported this as ‘Brawling at the Bar—worried big wigs face Mob again’.
In his first statement as BC chair, Robert Alexander QC deplored that ‘many of these criticisms were first voiced publicly—when they could (p.457) instead have been constructively put earlier to the Bar Council directly’ and disagreed that the Council should become ‘a more active trade union’. Anthony Speaight attacked employed barrister support for the Campaign. ‘When one finds a body of non-practising barristers not merely wielding a large number of organised votes to defeat the practising Bar—but actually boasting of doing so—I believe the time has come to recognise that there are genuine differences. …’ ‘When we next debate the threat of Crown prosecutors being given rights of audience, employed barristers will be amongst the people we shall be striving to keep out!’ The Council should expel employed barristers. A government lawyer retorted that the ‘Chambers Bar’ should create its own trade union.
The April 1986 Rawlinson Committee report recommended that a General Council of the Bar and the Inns of Court replace both Council and Senate; the ninety-three-member body representing the circuits, specialist associations, Inns, and barristers would exclude judges and elect its chair. Lord Rawlinson, Senate President, chaired its EGM on 21 June. A single QC expressed the fear that the new body would ‘act like a trades union’ and ‘damage the Bar’. Representing the Campaign, Martin Bowley QC said the profession had been ‘deeply divided’ a year ago but was now ‘wholly unified’. There was only one dissenting vote. The same happened at the Bar EGM immediately following. Alexander then proposed compulsory subions to the new Council. The Law Society had used practising certificate fees to produce its Contentious Business Committee report, ‘which sought to enhance the position of solicitors at the expense of the Bar’. Only two opposed the proposal, and just twelve voted against it. A postal ballot agreed by 1831 to 150. The next month's AGM (attended by just 300) approved the Rawlinson recommendations with just two dissents. A postal ballot to excuse a barrister who ‘objects on the grounds of conscience or of deeply-held personal conviction’ was lost by 499 to 1220.
The Professional Conduct Committee began hearing non-payment charges in 1988, and employed barristers were required to pay in 1990, when they obtained audience rights in lower courts. But later that year a disciplinary tribunal held that all ‘fit and proper persons’ were entitled to audience rights, which could not be denied to enforce ‘compulsory subions towards a professional body whose functions include a substantial element of Trades' Union Activity’. In 1994 nearly 10 per cent of the 8,000 private practitioners and 7 per cent of the 2,500 employed barrister members failed to pay subions. A year later, when the Council estimated the default at £150,000, the Lord Chancellor and four senior judges ruled that compulsory subions might be ultra vires or contrary to the public interest if used to fund the Council's trade union activities.
The Campaign had gained sufficient support by 1990 that Scrivener was poised to become BC chair and Gareth Williams QC vice chair. Although (p.458) two Inner Temple benchers took the unprecedented step of challenging them, the Campaign candidates won comfortably. But success also brought apathy: the November 1990 AGM had to adjourn for lack of a quorum of sixty; a week later the sixty-three participants met for just forty minutes.94
These reforms failed to satisfy all critics. A 1991 report by Sir Leonard Hoffmann (CLE chair) and Lord Benson (1979 Royal Commission chair) criticized the Inns' failure to manage their property productively, causing a ‘formidable shortage of money for education and training’. (Insured for over £100 million in 1977, they earned only £2.251 million and spent £809,000.) But the report ‘was never allowed to see the light of day’. Lord Benson repeated the 1979 criticism of ‘unco-ordinated’ governance and urged that a single elected body administer Inn property. A few months later Gareth Williams QC, now BC chair, proposed electing benchers and returning judges to a reconstituted Serjeants Inn. But a joint committee of the Bar Council and Inns chose ‘evolutionary’ change in 1992, rejecting ‘further integration’.
Two years later Lord Benson reiterated his criticism, and Lord Rawlinson repeated his 1986 recommendation that the practising profession ‘take firmly into its own hands the governance of the profession and champion its well-being’. Martin Bowley QC, now BC Treasurer, called ‘six competing authorities trying to run the profession with different agendas and different priorities’ ‘hugely wasteful’. A year later he complained that Circuit members ‘led the opposition’ to cutting the Council by a third. ‘What services do the Inns provide for the one-third of the profession who practise from provincial chambers?’ Circuits and specialist associations with equal Council representation had widely varying membership. He advocated one barrister, one vote and ‘adequate representation at the governing level of women and members of the ethnic minorities’.95
Employed barristers, who had supported the Campaign and criticized Inn property mismanagement, elected four of their twelve BC members for the first time in November 1993. Neil Addison, who had championed audience rights, came in first and an ally second. Addison promptly opposed the Council's application for a royal charter because it ‘discriminates against employed barristers’. A private practitioner denounced him as ‘an enemy, a menace and thoroughly irresponsible’. Addison retorted he ‘wasn't prepared to put up with being the under-class of the profession’. In response to his criticisms, the Council (almost unanimously) made employed barristers eligible for office.96
Applauding Mears's election as LS president in 1995, de Wilde warned the BC: ‘The lesson is there, my master: listen to your members’. At the June 1997 Bar AGM he again proposed direct election of officers. The existing system permitted ‘squalid deals in corridors between interested parties’ and could have been devised by ‘old-style Soviet leaders’. ‘Why is (p.459) the Bar Council against democracy?’ One opponent warned of a ‘PR disaster … Mears mark two’, another of a ‘populist’ without ‘the nous to go with it’. De Wilde retorted: ‘At least the people standing in the Law Society elections had to put forward policies so the members have a chance to choose between rival policies as well as rival personalities’. The motion was lost by 50 to 51 (indicating member apathy), and Attorney-General John Morris QC refused a recount. But a substantial majority passed a motion that most AGM and EGM decisions would henceforth bind the Council.97
Council opposition to expanded audience rights (see Chapter 4) intensified employed barrister disaffection. When it rejected a ballot on eliminating the demeaning term ‘non-practising’ barristers, BACFI contemplated packing an AGM to compel such a ballot and block voting its passage. But resentment of private practitioners did not breed unity. Dr Peter Gray founded the Non-Practising Bar Association (NPBA) in May 1997 to support Lord Irvine's reforms. After abortive efforts to co-operate with BACFI, he renamed his organization the Employed and Non-Practising Bar Association (ENPBA) and proposed resolutions on audience rights at the Bar's 1998 AGM. Warning that the odds were ‘heavily … stacked against employed and non practising barristers’, BACFI chair Susan Ward advised that ‘more is gained by pursuing other channels than by taking heavy defeats in public “Bar fora”’. She was ‘surprise[d] to see that you have changed the name of your association and that you are aiming to recruit members of the employed Bar’. BACFI told members Gray was ‘not known by any of the BACFI General Committee’ and it saw ‘no need for such a separate association’.98
Despite Ward's advice to work within the system, BACFI considered leaving the Council over its opposition to audience rights. ENPBA asked the Electoral Reform Society to investigate the Council's unrepresentative structure. The Council's June 1999 AGM supported ENPBA's motion inviting an inquiry ‘into the issue of fair representation for “non-practising” and employed barristers on the Bar Council’. Derek Wheatley QC (who had chaired both the BC and BACFI) complained that the Council's continuing opposition to audience rights reflected ‘a general attitude that an employed barrister is a second class citizen. Examples are that of well over a thousand benchers of the four Inns of Court only three are employed barristers. …’ The 2,530 employed and 3,046 non-practising BC members had twelve Council members (465:1), whereas the 9,762 private practitioners had 102 (96:1). Lord Irvine had recently written to him that the Council ‘is insufficiently representative of employed barristers’ and ‘too often sees its task as being simply to defend the interests of barristers in private practice. …’ BACFI called for ‘equal representation and for new classification of barristers as “practising” if you are providing legal services’.99
(p.460) The Council created a working party ‘to consider changes needed to the membership of the Council so that as the governing body of the whole profession it can fully carry out its functions, representing the interests of all subscribers’. Although it temporarily added five employed or non-practising members, BACFI said ‘nothing less than proportional representation will be satisfactory’. In the wake of the Stephen Lawrence inquiry, the Council agreed ‘it is crucial’ that it ‘represents and that it is seen to represent the entire Bar’. Ethnic minorities were 8.8 per cent of independent practitioners but only 4 per cent of the Council. It also recommended that committees ‘reflect the membership of the Bar and that this be done by appropriate co-option’.100
In response to the Lord Chancellor's 1998 proposal to extend rights of audience and to conduct litigation, the Council sought the power to mandate practising certificates (and collect fees) and pursued this in the AJA debates. On 28 January, during the Report Stage, Lord Goodhart moved such an amendment to put the BC ‘on the same footing as the Law Society and the Council of Licensed Conveyancers’. Lord Irvine observed:
the Bar Council's many able advocates … protested how unreasonable, how unconscionable, how unconstitutional it is for the Government to have dared to promote legislation interfering with rights of audience and how this threatens the fragile independence of the Bar and risks tumbling our entire constitutional settlement around our ears … How interesting it is to see the position when the boot is on the other foot.
Professional associations ‘are hybrid bodies which combine regulatory functions with … trade unions functions’. The ‘enforcement of trade union closed shops is contrary to the right of freedom of association which is enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights, newly incorporated’. Ward said ‘BACFI does not have a problem with compulsory subions providing the Bar Council stops using subion income to fund campaigns to denigrate employed and non-practising barristers and starts looking after our interests’. Irvine ‘would need some persuasion that the Bar Council … seriously attempts to do a good job of representing the many barristers who are not in private practice’. During the Commons Report Stage in June the Government introduced such a clause, which ‘should be a potent means of ensuring more meritocratic entry to the Bar, which suffers from an excessively middle-class image’. ‘The Dearing review made it clear that individuals and professions should be expected to pay for such postgraduate vocational training.’ The clause was agreed. The Council proposed to exempt non-practising barristers and increase fees for employed barristers with higher court audience rights, while promising ‘fair treatment for the Employed Bar’.101
As the media never tired of repeating, Mears broke the mould.102 There had been only one vice-presidential race since World War II and no presidential contest in living memory. Mears bragged of being a reactionary revolutionary (Reagan, not Thatcher), an outsider battling the ‘Buggins's turn’ of ‘establishment groupies’, rejecting the ‘politically correct crap’, ‘bigotry, cant and hypocrisy’ of the ‘Politburo’ ‘apparatchiki’, the ‘orthodoxy’ of the Council's ‘hothouse world’. Promiscuously mixing metaphors, he pronounced it ‘tumbrill time’ for the ‘Bourbons’, who had ‘learnt nothing’ from history, the ‘old'uns’, ‘smelly old fish’, who had made Chancery Lane a ‘graveyard’. He turned opponents' boasts of experience and influence into dirty words, blaming Council members for everything that had happened on their watch. (Taking this a step further—and sounding like Nixon justifying his nomination of mediocrities to the Supreme Court—Savage boasted he was not a ‘worthy’ and had chaired no committees or written learned tomes.)
Mears's confrontational style was ideal for challenging but disastrous for governing. (The Campaign for the Bar was known as the ‘Wilde bunch’ after its leader, who wanted to ‘shoot the tigers’ threatening ‘to eat us’. But the Bar Council quickly accommodated its ideas and co-opted its members.) Mears drew media attention by giving them good copy; even being called ‘thoroughly unacceptable’ was better than being ignored. He had only one strategy: frontal attack. Triumphant in victory, pugnacious in defeat, he complained of persecution when this provoked the inevitable response. He excelled in the politics of ressentiment, playing to straight white men's fears of women, minorities, and gays and lesbians. Although dependent on the Lord Chancellor's goodwill, he accused the deeply religious Lord Mackay of betraying Jesus with his divorce reforms. (As a divorce living with his illegitimate children's mother, this ensured charges of hypocrisy.) He insulted even when purporting to compliment, calling the defeated Eileen Pembridge ‘the most dangerous feminist in England’ (high praise from one who bragged of being ‘the most dangerous lawyer in England’). He opposed the policies of constituents: family and anti--discrimination lawyers, the City. He maligned opponents as a ‘small coterie of metropolitan leftists’, who ‘intrigue[d]’ in an attempt to stage a ‘backstairs coup’. He alienated the Council by urging supporters to contest every seat and launched Caterpillar to expose ‘scandals, ineptitudes, unpleasantnesses’. He portrayed himself grandiosely as Richard III at the battle of Bosworth, David slaying Goliath.
Sayer showed similar symptoms: he had ‘worked miracles’, saved legal aid, and ‘achieved more in the last six months than we did in the previous 20 years’; no one had a better track record. He megalomaniacally proposed (p.462) taking over the Bar. He boasted that his ‘cynicism’ and ‘dogged persistence’ allowed him to uncover the Regis computer scandal and stop the Society from wasting more money on the HSSK. His sensible proposals to ascertain member wants and prune unnecessary committees inspired grudging respect, if not affection.
Revolutions devour their children. Edge and Bogan outflanked Mears and Sayer, advancing proposals too radical and patently self-interested for those erstwhile revolutionaries once ensconced in power. Bogan even parodied Mears's hyperbole, likening opponents to mad cows infected with CJD, who had to be selectively culled. As a result, the BLA (clearly a core constituency) backed Bogan over Mears. At the same time, Girling's Campaign for New Leadership linked Mears and Sayer to Bogan's extremism.
Mears and Sayer turned members' economic and status insecurities into anti-establishment anger. The annual conference was a ‘jol’ for officers and staff; foreign trips were useless junkets. Officers and then Council members voted themselves salaries while solicitors were suffering. Chancery Lane was extravagant, refurbishing a building rarely used by the majority of solicitors practising outside London. Like Reagan, Mears and Sayer claimed to seek office only to shrink governance, cutting the budget by curtailing self-regulation. Spouting the rhetoric of class resentment, Sayer said the Society had ‘got a bit above itself’ and ‘seemed to think it ran the profession’.
But if this allowed both Mears and Sayer to capture the presidency, it alienated those they needed to enact their programme. Mears claimed presidential prerogative: the Law Society ‘ship has one captain … who is entitled to expect the loyalty and commitment of the whole organisation’. The Council asserted Parliamentary supremacy: if they could not vote no confidence in the president, they could obstruct him. The ‘President's Reform Group’ never enrolled more than nine Council membersperhaps because Mears incited solicitors to take ‘revenge’ by contesting opponents' seats. They promptly retaliated: the proposal to increase the Council's power at the expense of the president's, the creation of an executive committee which chose its own chair, the suggestions that the Council nominate the DVP and that members choose only the DVP (who would be socialized by the Council for two years before becoming president). Mears also expected—and provoked—staff opposition, cowing employees and forcing out those who would not capitulate, including Hayes, Stapely, Lockley, and Merricks. The proposal to subordinate a ceremonial president to a policy-making Director-General was partly a response to this power grab.
Mears and Sayer were Poujadistes, appealing to the petty bourgeois anxieties of solo and small-firm practitioners confronting market forces and state pressures they could not control or even understand. Mears and Sayer promised to curtail competition by limiting entry and raising conveyancing fees, reduce regulation, pass SIF costs on to conveyancing clients, and raise (p.463) legal aid remuneration. Mears saw nothing wrong with solicitors ‘try[ing] to protect ourselves’. Sayer insisted that the bargain of ‘professional responsibilities in return for professional privileges’ served the ‘common good’. Both encouraged members' calls for militance towards the Government. (Trevor Murray represented an almost-humorous exaggeration. The Society had ‘consistently played into the hands of its enemies and thereby managed to oversee the systematic devastation of the profession’ by ‘conced[ing]’ the battles for conveyancing and legal aid. He voiced nostalgia for the time when ‘solicitors' services were valued by clients and the status of the profession was appreciated and respected both by society and the government’. The profession had been betrayed by ‘quislings … who look to government or depend on its patronage for their personal achievement’. He condemned the ‘diplomatic solution’ and praised the Society for having ‘managed to rattle the Lord Chancellor’.)
Opponents confronted a dilemma. They could expose these fantasies as ‘fool's gold’, incurring Mears's jibe of ‘defeatism or no-can-do-ism’. Or they could play his game but lose and betray their principles as well. Hodge condemned ‘protectionism’, ‘cartels’, and ‘artificially induced bills’; solicitors could not limit access to the SCB. But he sought credit for keeping the number of training contracts ‘steady for years’, delaying standard fees in magistrates' courts for four years, and doubling legal aid payments in five years while acknowledging this was a ‘position which we do not trumpet’. And he promised to reduce the practising certificate fee and SIF contribution and promulgate a ‘guideline fee structure’ for conveyancing. Accusing Mears of ‘blatant demagoguery’ and deliberate ‘ignorance’ and his proposals of being ‘unlawful, impossible or plain daft’, Pembridge refused to ‘woo voters with false promises’ or join ‘the last inglorious charge of the Light Brigade’. But she hoped to cap SCF liability to institutional lenders, charge SCB complainants, and resist reduced legal aid payments. Aucott insisted on telling solicitors ‘what they have to hear if they are going to survive in the changed world’, not ‘what they want to hear’. Sycamore wanted to negotiate with the government about legal aid on its own terms rather than trying to ‘turn the clock back to open-ended spending’. Solicitors should not ‘stamp our feet’, indulge in protectionism and ‘vain clamour’, or ‘watch the world pass us by’ but rather embrace change, be the vanguard, prosper by adapting. Napier dismissed Murray's ‘rantings of yesteryear’.
Mears and Sayer won on message but lost on style. From 1995 to 2000 opponents ran primarily on not being them, as shown by the very name of the 1996 Campaign for New Leadership (launched without candidates!). They embraced Mears's taunt that they were ‘Sound Men’. Girling offered ‘firm and clear leadership’, ‘stabilization’, a pair of ‘safe but not boring hands’. Mears had ‘shaken up’ the Society and a ‘complacent Council’, fought ‘smugness’, worked a ‘sea change’, ‘stirred the pot’; but now ‘battle-weary’ solicitors (p.464) wanted quiet. Mears was extreme, his opponents moderate. (Mears similarly dismissed Bogan as a ‘wild man’.) Mears had mired the Society in electioneering, squabbling, bickering, jibes and sarcasm, division; rejecting politics, his opponents promised to end strife and restore unity. After failing to win a second term as vice president, Sayer repudiated Mears, while opponents sought to associate the two. Mcintosh accused Sayer of sharing his ‘ex-collaborator's shortcomings’—‘disarray and unfocused leadership’, being a ‘critic and challenger’ when the profession needed a ‘healer and achiever’. Calling for ‘new and strong leadership’ to ‘shed … recent problems’, Napier declared it ‘throwing out time at the last-chance saloon’ and promised ‘stability’ after Sayer's ‘five turbulent years’ (echoing LAG's allusion to Thomas Becket).
Character became the currency of Society politics. Mears accused the traitor Sayer of having ‘changed his colours’ and ‘taken the establishment shilling’. ‘Incurably unsound’, he would never be able to ‘take tea with the Queen Mother’, ‘make small talk with Cherie Blair’, or ‘consume a cucumber sandwich in polite company’. ‘Leadership’ was a code word for the traits Mathews and the ‘maverick’ Sayer allegedly lacked. Girling said his successor had to be ‘problem solver, statesman, media personality, evangelist and perfect host, possessed of infinite stamina and personal charm, Dimbleby-like chairmanship skills and boundless enthusiasm’—clearly not Mears (if also not Sycamore).103 Trevor Murray bragged about leaving grammar school at 16, enjoying no ‘privilege’, working ‘extremely hard’, and privately educating five children (a typically contradictory constellation of values).
Each candidate deplored the corrosive effect of politics, claiming the moral high ground as selfless champion of professional interests while maligning opponents as ambitious and unscrupulous. When Young ran for president, Pembridge exposed the cover-up of his sexual predations by an establishment that had secured her silence two years earlier by promising action. Mears promptly denounced her ‘vile and contemptible’ ‘gutter’ allegations ‘worthy of the tabloids’ and swore to ‘campaign cleanly’! He then took maximum advantage of the block voting charges against Girling and the dirty tricks considered by Sycamore and threatened to release more damaging material if Sycamore and Mathews did not withdraw, accusing them of ‘humbug and nonsense’, ‘sheer shamelessness’, and being ‘unfit to lead the profession’. Sayer was guilty of ‘increasingly wild personal attacks’. Sycamore claimed that ‘in a situation which had become political it was a perfectly legitimate exercise’. Mears compared the Society to a ‘loony-left Council’ and talked about appealing to the Master of the Rolls. Like Peter Lorre discovering gambling at Rick's Bar in ‘Casablanca’, Robert Sayer expressed shock that ‘Law Society politics are the same as politics anywhere else’.
(p.465) If invective was Mears's metier, it was Sayer's downfall. He had a schoolboy's obsession with the scatological. The Society should ‘get off its backside’; it had ‘gone up its own backside again’. Mears and he would ‘not put up with crap from anyone who gets in our way’. Keating was a ‘complete pillock’ fronting for Mears, a ‘bitter, twisted little’ man who kept turning up ‘like a piece of dog turd on your shoe’. Unfortunately for Sayer, that simile stuck even more tightly. He refused to ‘grovel’, regretting only having given his enemies ammunition—which they gleefully used. Keating called his language ‘disgusting’, ‘disgraceful’, if ‘not a surprise’. Girling criticized the ‘intemperacy’. The New Law Journal thought it ‘out of place if spoken by a football manager’. The Solicitors Journal deplored the ‘descent’ into ‘scurrilous’ ‘personal abuse’ and ‘ridicule’, which was ‘particularly unseemly’ in a ‘professional election’ and ‘drags us all down’. The alleged victims kept repeating Sayer's vulgarities—Keating even sued for libel—in order to inflame the backlash. Mears complained of ‘six weeks of vituperation and personal vilification’ while declaring such ‘grossness should be met with charity and forbearance’. There was ‘no limit’ to Sayer's ‘effrontery’; such ‘unprecedented’ abuse was not a ‘solitary outburst’ but typical of someone whose language was ‘notorious’.
Politics both reflected and intensified personal animosities. questioned the proposal to limit entry, Mears called him a ‘Dracula lookalike’. Baker, in turn, took the minutes of the dirty tricks campaign meeting. When Holland left the Council to protest the election outcome, Mears accused him of self-importance. Mcintosh began his Council term by attacking Mears. Although Mears pretentiously claimed to be the ‘loyal opposition’ (of one?) after losing, Girling accused him of ‘relentless carping and sniping’ and ‘sheer negativity’; Mears retorted that his offers to help were rebuffed. Mears dismissed Sycamore and Mathews as ‘non-entities’ and other opponents as ‘superannuated groupies’; He backed Keating against Napier, ridiculing the latter's appearance. When Keating switched to the presidency, he denounced Sayer's ‘confrontational’ behaviour, ‘belligerence and abuse’. Sayer called Keating Mears's ‘loyal sidekick’. Blaming Mears for ‘a period of confrontation, chaos and bitterness’, Sayer said the profession needed him ‘like a hole in the head’.
Betrayal was unforgivable. When Bogan, an erstwhile Mears supporter, sought to divest the Society of representative functions, founded the SA to assume them, and then ran for president, Mears called him a ‘wild man’ who lived in a ‘fantasy world’. Sayer's defection was even more bitter. Owing his political career to Mears, he utterly repudiated his mentor: Mears engaged in ‘gesture polities’, tending ‘to speak first and think of the consequences later’. Mears retaliated by disproving Sayer's claim that Mears had declared as his VP candidate uninvited. Sayer retorted that Mears ‘made speeches’, ‘simply has nothing new to offer’, was ‘shallow, (p.466) vain and a phoney, all talk and no action’. Sayer felt betrayed when Mcintosh, who had campaigned for him, stood against him.
Public image—a perennial anxiety of lawyers—eclipsed all other issues. Elections were repeatedly marred by scandal: both the Council cover-up of Young's sexual harassment and the block voting in 1995, dirty tricks in 1997, Sayer's vulgarity in 1999, and Bahl's bullying in 2000. Opponents and critics accused Mears of making solicitors look ‘foolish’, a ‘laughing stock’. LAG called his presidency a ‘joke … gone sour’, a ‘soap opera’, a ‘very public farce’. Local law societies worried about Chancery Lane's reputation. The New Law Journal feared solicitors were losing (and barristers gaining) influence with the government. The Solicitors Journal declared that the president's ‘chief role’ was to ‘present the face of the profession to the outside world’. Even Mears made image one of his three principal concerns, blaming problems on detractors and naively seeking improvement by spending millions on public relations (while openly subordinating the public interest to the profession's).
‘Law Society politics are the same as politics anywhere’—they were about winning. For five years elections were a toss-up because few bothered to vote and voters were divided between establishment and outsiders. In 1995, only 18 per cent of the electorate chose Mears, who failed to win a majority. A Hodge–Pembridge ticket might have beaten him. The next year Girling won with just 22 per cent of the electorate, again not a majority of voters. Had Bogan not run for president on splitting the Society, Mears might have won a second term (his absolute vote increased from 11,550 to 14,239). By his third race, however, solicitors gave Mears only 8,148 votes, preferring Sycamore by two to one. The electorate remained split in 1998, although the fissure was less clearly ideological. Mathews defeated Napier by just 53 per cent to 47, and Sayer beat Mcintosh by 55 to 45; even Keating took 43 per cent against Bahl. Given the declining turnout, only 14 per cent of the electorate chose Mathews. As the establishment candidate in 1999, Sayer beat Mears-surrogate Keating by 64 to 36 but still gained only 14 per cent of the electorate. Even an outsider like Murray took 37 per cent of the vote against Napier. A year later Napier (now the establishment candidate) defeated Sayer (again the dissident) by 66 to 34; but because turnout was an all-time low of 18.6 per cent, Napier attracted just 12 per cent of the electorate. Bogan, running alone against Mcintosh, got the same percentage as Sayer, showing that a third of voters remained strongly disaffected. None of these presidents could claim a mandate.
Politics is about building coalitions and dividing opponents. Hodge and Pembridge would have united legal aid solicitors and women against the Mears–Sayer claim to represent high-street and provincial firms. Bogan deprived Mears of some of his angriest supporters. By luring away Sayer, Sycamore ended Mears's prospect of office, though he continued to agitate. (p.467) The protectionist Sayer was a strange bedfellow with the free marketeers Sycamore and Mathews. In 1998, both tickets were ‘balanced’ (City and high street) and supported by similar proportions of voters. Although Mathews focused exclusively on City issues (MDPs, access to venture capital, limited liability, FSA regulation) and bragged about his prominence in the world's largest firm, he claimed his slate (including Bahl) reflected ‘a wider cross section of the profession than ever before’. Two years later the balanced ticket of Napier and Mcintosh easily defeated Sayer (seeking a second term) and Bogan (running separately).
Candidates had clear constituencies. The nineteenth-century alternation of London and provincial presidents gave way a century later to alternation between City and high street (reflecting size, clientele, and function). Bahl claimed to represent the employed, young, women, and ethnic minorities. Opposing her in 1998, Keating insisted that ‘the profession should be represented by practitioners who have been exposed to the rigours of practice … it is the whole profession that needs to be represented’. Even Mcintosh (confronting her running mate Sayer) promised to ‘think young and of equal opportunities’. No one dared oppose her the next year, and no one probably would have contested the 2000 presidency had the bullying charge not derailed her candidacy (which her supporters claimed was its purpose). Women had been more than half of new solicitors since 1986; a woman became Bar Council chair in 1998; and Mears and Sayer unsuccessfully sought a woman DVP candidate in 1995. But Pembridge gained only 15 per cent of the presidential vote (perhaps because she was too feminist). That year a prominent woman City partner told the AWS annual lunch it was time to disband: ‘Do we really need a lobby group to fight for female solicitors' rights?’104 Other women City partners blocked a Council seat for women. Bahl presented herself as a conservative anti-feminist. Nevertheless, the establishment ran two women for DVP in 2000, and the winner became the first woman president two years later (ungendering Buggins).
If politics was preoccupied with personalities, it also reflected issues. All collective action confronts the tension between maximizing numbers and preserving unity. The disaffected must choose between seeking control, seceding, or apathy (exit, voice or loyalty).105 The Bar was not divided by firm size (though it was by specialization and reliance on private or legally aided clients); and geography was less relevant (since the provincial Bar was half the size of London, whereas solicitors were equally distributed between the two). Juniors successfully agitated for increased representation. The most dangerous fissure divided private practitioners and employed barristers (organized in BACFI). Addison opposed the Council's application for a royal charter because it denied employed barristers proportionate representation. The Council intensified resentment by adamantly resisting (p.468) employed barristers' audience rights from the CPS launch in 1986 to the AJA in 1999 (an antagonism Lord Irvine exploited to secure its passage). In order to strengthen the case for compulsory subions (taxation), the Bar Council had to expand representation.
Solicitors were pulled in multiple directions. Solo practitioners felt over-regulated. Small firms felt neglected (although they consumed services far in excess of their fee contribution). Large firms resented paying to regulate small. The Commerce & Industry Group complained that members contributed £3 million but it received only £12,300. By transferring a local government seat to newly qualified solicitors and then back the Council antagonized both. Nineteenth-century geographic constituencies were increasingly anachronistic rotten boroughs; but many feared that constituencies reflecting the real divisions (firm size and specialization) would hasten fission.
Although the more successful firms ultimately defeated the less after a seven-year struggle, centrifugal forces persisted. City firms threatened to secede. Many Mears and Sayer supporters also belonged to the BLA and the newly formed SA, whose 1997 merger increased their credibility as a Law Society rival.106 Many employed solicitors voted with their feet by foregoing practising certificates. Franchised legal aid solicitors organized in 1994. The next year the CLSA and LCCSA sought to negotiate with the LAB, claiming the Society did so inadequately. Four years later the CLSA said it could no longer speak for the unfranchised, who it expected would leave.107
Proposals to separate regulation from representation challenged the core of self-governance. Mears and Sayer assailed discipline and indemnity insurance. Solo and small-firm practitioners resented all efforts to raise standards. Mears and Sayer held out (false) promises of relief: the Society should reassert control over the SCB, ending the ‘tiresome’ insistence on its independence and deleting ‘complaints’ from its name; Mears even suggested that solicitors drop indemnity coverage, leaving malpractice victims uncompensated. Bogan took the other tack, arguing that the Society should relinquish regulation; a supporter indiscreetly boasted that solicitors could ‘run rings round an external regulator’. But their opponents, fearing that external regulation would be just as expensive and more rigorous, wanted to retain the form in order to avoid the substance. And some sought more effective regulation in order to reduce the collective embarrassment of misconduct and cost of mutual insurance.
Collective action faced a fundamental contradiction: the coercion on which it depended was incompatible with advocacy. Solicitors created the BLA to represent their self-interest unconstrained by the public interest; but it quickly sought the power to compel dues. Edge argued that the Society should not represent solicitors because it received practising (p.469) certificate fees. Although Bogan forced an AGM vote and postal ballot on fission, ran for president on that platform, and refused to accept defeat, he seemed ambivalent about the goal. Advocates as diverse as the New Law Journal, Mears and Sayer, Bogan, and Trevor Aldridge QC maintained thata voluntary association would be stronger than the Society. But without responsibility for regulation, solicitors' increasingly divergent interests would spawn antagonistic groups. And each would face the free rider problem. Neither the BLA nor the SA attracted more than a small percentage of solicitors. The ABA, on which Sayer was fixated, has never enrolled a majority of American lawyers (and lacks regulatory power). Although voluntarism freed the Bar Council to champion barristers' interests, even suing the Lord Chancellor over legal aid remuneration, it was sufficiently unhappy about the failure of just 10 per cent of private practitioners to pay subions that it repeatedly sought coercive power (beginning in 1972), accepting limitations on representation in exchange for this under the AJA. Ironically, the Law Society's vigorous opposition to that Bill provoked Lord Irvine to take the power to prohibit representation.
Lawyers had to choose between professionalism and trade unionism. Although both branches energetically sought and jealously guarded their professional status for centuries, pressures from market and state tempted many solicitors to flirt with syndicalism, remembering when the Society had been called ‘the best organised and most intelligent trade union in the Country’. Both Bogan and the Campaign for the Bar wanted their associations to emulate the BMA (disregarding Holland's caution that most doctors were NHS employees while few lawyers relied on legal aid). Scrivener advocated a ‘BMA type and style of professionalism … devoted to protecting and furthering the interests of its members to the benefit of the public’. Claiming that just ‘ten years ago, ours was the safest of occupations, with a guaranteed good income for life’, Mears encouraged the delusion that it could be again if solicitors resolutely pursued self-interest. Sayer was ‘proud’ of ‘putting the profession's interest temporarily in front of clients’. But trade unionism was a risky strategy. Campaigning for president, Girling was ‘proud’ the Society had blocked authorized conveyancers and delayed probate practitioners but warned that it would be ‘counterproductive’ to ‘crow about either of those achievements’. Hodge posed a stark choice between client and solicitor interests. Some feared losing the royal charter if the Society engaged in trade unionism. And freedom to champion self-interest might well be outweighed by the Society's inability to continue pretending disinterest.
All politicians claim power in the name of constituents while minimizing constitutent control. The Bar was an extreme example: a self-perpetuating gerontocracy of benchers ruling the Inns and dominating the Bar Council, near disenfranchisement of the vast majority of junior barristers and the (p.470) large minority of employed, repeated rejection of direct election of officers (especially after the spectre of another Mears), and General Meetings unable to enforce decisions. The Law Society displayed its own paternalism. At a roadshow designed to air grassroots grievances, a solicitor complained: ‘What it comes down to is that Chancery Lane knows what is best for us’. President Elly replied complacently: ‘You elected the members of the Council for their expertise and at the end of the day we must use our best judgment’. The SCB director rebuffed solicitor criticism of her staff as ‘extraordinarily offensive’.
Lawyers kept agitating for democracy. In 1984 the BLA sought proxy voting, popular nomination of officers, term limits, and non-geographic constituencies. Mears and Sayer aggressively contested elections—infuriating the establishment—until they became the establishment and condemned challengers. Although Sayer declared his first run for VP ‘necessary’, Mcintosh's challenge to his second run three years later was ‘damaging to the profession's reputation’, ‘divisive’, ‘unnecessary infighting’, a ‘waste’ of £70,000. The Society needed it ‘like a hole in the head’.108 Challenged by Keating for president a year later, Sayer said the election would ‘damage the Law Society's credibility’ and cost £100,000. City solicitors found elections ‘disheartening’. ‘Now and then an election may be appropriate’, but ‘the best of our members’, ‘the most talented’, would not submit to ‘the vagaries of the electoral process’. (Noblesse oblige might require them to rule but not to run for office.) Girling called it ‘traumatic’ for solicitors to stand for election ‘without knowing whether or not they are wasting their time’. The disaffected, by contrast, demanded direct democracy. Edge proposed that 100 solicitors could compel a postal ballot to recall the entire Council. Mears wanted more issues decided by referenda. But Sir Dennis Stevenson urged a corporate model, subordinating a figurehead president to a senior civil servant and electing only the DVP.
The greatest pitfall of self-governance, however, is not tensions among fractions or between professional and public interest, oligarchy and democracy, but apathy. Most lawyers just want to earn a living and leave politics to others.109 They are energized by threats. The Bar Committee was a response to the Judicature Act 1873, which let solicitors take work from barristers. The Campaign for the Bar was a response to solicitors' non-payment of fees. Its proposed reforms drew an unprecedented 1,500 to the AGM, but five years later it failed to get even a quorum of sixty. Solicitors founded the BLA, SPG, SPyG, and SA in response to similar economic threats, only to watch each atrophy. Mears's first election provoked 36 per cent of solicitors to vote, his unprecedented bid for a second term brought out 45, but only 30 per cent voted during his third run. Turnout fell to 26 per cent the next year, 22 per cent when Keating (backed by Mears) challenged Sayer, and just 19 per cent when Sayer tried to succeed himself. Like Rhett Butler, most lawyers frankly do not give a damn.
(2) ‘Local Law Societies: Grassroots Indifference’, LSG (30.1.91) 10; ‘Comment: Succeeding in the Nineties’ (1991) 135 SJ 399; ‘Comment: Law Society’ (1991) 135 SJ 643; ‘The Law Society Abroad’ (1991) 141 NLJ 805; ‘Profligacy and PR Disasters’ (1991) 141 NLJ 881: ‘£2.9m Shortfall Forces Cuts and Job Losses’ (1991) 135 SJ 1123; ‘Comment: Law Society Redundancies’ (1991) 135 SJ 1127; ‘Society's Promotions must Pay their Way’, LSG (27.11.91) 7; ‘Law Society's Council Slams Executive “Mismanagement”’ (1991) 135 SJ 1231; ‘Balancing the Books’ (1992) 142 NLJ 113; ‘Deficit cleared’, LA (3.92) 6.
(3) ‘Still not Enough Women in the Professions’ (1990) 134 SJ 764; ‘Editorial: Discriminating judgments’, LA (9.91) 3; ‘Comment: Reviewing the Law Society’ (1992) 136 SJ 231; ‘Law Society Takes Slow Boat to Reform’ (1992) 136 SJ 256; ‘Editorial: The Law Society's other deficit’, LA (4.92) 3; ‘Crisis for the Council?’ LSG (9.6.93) 2.
(4) Gerry Chambers, ‘What do you Think of the Law Society’, LSG (24.6.92) 24; ‘Comment: A Healthy Society?’ (1992) 136 SJ 695.
(5) ‘AGM will Hear Plea for Sole Practitioners Group’, LSG (1.7.92) 5; ‘Sole Practitioners to Apply for Group Status’, LSG (15.7.92) 6; ‘Law Society's Annual General Meeting’ (1992) 142 NLJ 994; ‘Law Society Gives Ground on One-man Bands’ (1992) 136 SJ 691; ‘Sole Practitioners Edge Towards Group Status’, LSG (22.7.92) 4; ‘Law Society Help for Sole Practitioners Group’ (1992) 142 NLJ 1115; ‘Sole Practitioners Group to Meet’ (1993) 143 NLJ 79; ‘Sole Practitioners Out in Force want LS Recognition’ (1993) 143 NLJ 155; ‘Society Seal for Solos’, LSG (19.5.93) 7; ‘Comment: Law Society Annual Report’ (1993) 137 SJ 603; ‘Law Society, Annual General Meeting’, LSG (21.7.93) 11, 13–14; ‘Comment: Small Firms’ (1994) 138 SJ 167; ‘Employed Sector Hits the Buffers’, LSG (30.3.94) 6; ‘Employed Solicitors Criticise LawSoc’ (1994) 138 SJ 276; ‘Help for the High Street Practice’ (1994) 144 NLJ 781; ‘Editorial: Champion Suggestions’ (1994) 144 NLJ 781; ‘High Street Plan gets Green Light’,0020LSG (15.6.94) 10; D Lyn Devonald, ‘An Endangered Species?’ LSG (29.6.94) 2; Henry Hodge, ‘Supporting the High Street’, LSG (21.9.94) 2; ‘Bid to Reach Out to Practitioners’, LSG (21.9.94) 3; ‘Henry Hodge becomes the Champion’ (1994) 144 NLJ 1267; Woolfson et al. (1994).
(6) David Thomas and Paul Pharaoh, ‘Crisis for the Council?’ LSG (9.6.93) 2; ‘Officers Rewarded’, LSG (16.3.94) 6; ‘Editorial: Paying the Piper to Call the Tune’ (1994) 144 NLJ 381; ‘Salaries for Law Society Officers’ (1994) 144 NLJ 382; ‘£90,000 Salary Proposed for LawSoc President’ (1994) 138 SJ 351; ‘Group Attack on Office-Holders' Pay’, LSG (23.3.94) 9; ‘Comment: Fair Recompense’ (1994) 138 SJ 279; ‘Members in Pay Vote’, LSG (15.6.94) 8; ‘SGM Approves Officer Payments’, LSG (20.7.94) 6; ‘Pay Dispute’, LSG (31.8.94) 3; ‘Editorial: Seeing is Believing’ (1994) 144 NLJ 1685; ‘Pay Slashed’, LSG (16.12.94) 3; ‘President's Stipend Halved’ (1994) 144 NLJ 1759.
(7) ‘Acrimonious Split Hits SPG Elections’, (1994) 138 SJ 647; ‘Acrimonious Split Continues within SPG’ (1994) 138 SJ 705; ‘Comment: United we Stand’ (1994) 138 (p.598) SJ 707; ‘Editorial: Professional Problems’ (1994) 144 NLJ 961; ‘Rosen Wins SPG Election’, (1994) 138 SJ 728; ‘SPG's Rosen and Turl attack Council member Angela Deacon’ (1994) 144 NLJ 999; ‘Further Shelling in the SPG War’ (1995) 145 NLJ 679; ‘Confidentiality?’ (1995) 145 NLJ 714; ‘Auditor “Muzzled”—Motion “Muffled”’ (1995) 145 NLJ 842.
(8) ‘Law Society scolded by auditors’, LA (7.94) 4; ‘Society Suffers Embarrassing Defeat’ (1994) 138 SJ 729; ‘New Boy Blues’, LSG (14.9.94) 11; Robert Sayer, ‘The Law Society: The Right Balance?’ (1994) 138 SJ 869; ‘Comment: Critical Response’ (1994) 138 SJ 951; ‘Lawyer Calls for Inquiry into Law Society Expenditure’ (1994) 138 SJ 1003; ‘Nightmare on the High Street’ (1994) 138 SJ 1008; ‘Fur Flies Over Audit Report’, LSG (12.10.94) 6; ‘Nay Sayer’, LSG (19.10.94) 10; ‘Mears Expenditure Inquiry Blocked by Council’ (1994) 138 SJ 1031; ‘Editorial: Controlling Finances’ (1994) 144 NLJ 1397; Law Society (1994b); Martin Mears, ‘Editorial’, Cat (3.97) 1.
(9) ‘Thumbs up for Softly, Softly President’, LSG (12.10.94) 10; ‘Law Society Conference’ (1994) 138 SJ 1032; ‘Comment: Concerning Cost’ (1994) 138 SJ 1037; ‘Society Rethinks Conference Style’, LSG (19.10.94) 7; ‘Group Bids to Trump Society’, LSG (9.11.94) 5; ‘Row over Quality’, LSG (7.6.95) 64; ‘Property Lawyers “Disturbed” at Law Society Actions’ (1995) 139 SJ 539; ‘Comment: Flying a Kitemark’ (1995) 139 SJ 543; ‘SPG Flies Off over Kitemark’ (1995) 139 SJ 573; ‘Group Fury’, LSG (21.6.95) 2; ‘Kitemark Concern’, LSG (28.6.95) 5; ‘Conveyancing Club’, LSG (5.7.95) 2.
(10) ‘Society Leaders Face the Music’, LSG (30.11.94) 4; ‘“Time” Test-Run’, LSG (30.11.94) 4; ‘Exeter puts Society through its Paces’, LSG (18.1.95) 4.
(11) ‘Council Members Call Surprise Vote’, LSG (29.3.95) 1; ‘Challenge Vote Shocks Old Guard’, LSG (29.3.95) 3; Martin Mears, ‘Comment: Tumbrill time in Chancery Lane’ (1995) 145 NLJ 444; ‘Profile: A Hitch in the Seamless Progression’ (1995) 145 NLJ 462; ‘Comment: The Race is On’ (1995) 139 SJ 311; ‘Harassment Claims at Society HQ’, LSG (12.4.95) 1; Martin Mears, ‘Comment: Bigotry, Cant and Humbug’ (1995) 145 NLJ 624.
(12) ‘Shaking the Totem Pole’, LSG (5.4.95) 8; ‘Comment: Health Contest’ (1995) 139 SJ 365; ‘Editorial: Don't Even Try’ (1995) 145 NLJ 677; ‘Harassment Claims at Society HQ’, LSG (12.4.95) 1; ‘Outspoken Voice Strives for Top Job’, LSG (12.4.95) 4; ‘Sexual Harassment a Major Problem, Conference Told’ (1995) 139 SJ 334; ‘Comment: Sexual Harassment’ (1995) 139 SJ 335; Eileen Pembridge, ‘Comment: Standing up for the Profession’ (1995) 145 NLJ 516; ‘Law Society “Seen as Expensive Irrelevance”’ (1995) 139 SJ 465.
(13) ‘Women Speak Against Council Seat for AWS’ (1995) 139 SJ 256; ‘Editorial: The Vice-President Withdraws’ (1995) 145 NLJ 513; ‘Martin Mears to Fight On’ (1995) 145 NLJ 515; ‘It's Still Not Women's Work’, LSG (17.5.95) 8; ‘Editorial: Lining up at the Starting Gate’ (1995) 145 NLJ 549; ‘Statement by Eileen Pembridge’ (1995) 145 NLJ 550; ‘Candidates Manifestoes’ (1995) 139 SJ 362–3; ‘Young Letter Apologises for Publicity’, LSG (26.4.95) 3; ‘Vetting Plan’, LSG (26.4.95) 3; Charles Elly, ‘President's Column: The Election Procedure’, LSG (26.4.95) 10; ‘The Exchange of Letters between Vice-President John Young and President Charles Elly’, LSG (26.4.95) 14; ‘Law Society Election Hots Up’ (1995) 139 SJ 383; ‘Aucott to Challenge Sayer for Vice-Presidency’ (1995) 145 NLJ 586; ‘Sex (p.599) Claims Trigger Procedure Review’, LSG (3.5.95) 2; ‘Council Names its Top Three’, LSG (3.5.95) 4; ‘Ringing in the Changes’, LSG (3.5.95) 14; ‘Fighting Modern Battle’, LSG (3.5.95) 14; Martin Mears, ‘Comment: Bigotry, Cant and Humbug’ (1995) 145 NLJ 624; ‘Elly Promises Procedures Review’ (1995) 139 SJ 410 ‘Editorial: Droit de Senior Partner’ (1995) 145 NLJ 621; ‘Sayer Sends Out Campaign Letter’ (1995) 139 SJ 436; ‘Candidates Recommend Client Levy’, LSG (17.5.95) 4; ‘Disgrace’ (1995) 145 NLJ 843; Eileen Pembridge, ‘If I ruled the Law Society’ (1995) 139 SJ 5; John Aucott, ‘Face the Future, Not the Past’ (1995) 145 NLJ 810; ‘Mears Tables AGM Votes’, LSG (7.6.95) 3; Tony Holland: ‘Opinion: On Demand’ (1995) 139 SJ 574.
(14) ‘Mears Hits Bureau in Campaign Shot’, LSG (11.5.95) 1; Henry Hodge, ‘A Positive Agenda’ (1995) 145 NLJ 680; ‘Policing takes Centre Stage’, LSG (17.5.95) 1; ‘Election Heats Up’, LSG (24.5.95) 2; ‘Campaigning Starts in Earnest—Well, Nearly’ (1995) 145 NLJ 750; ‘Presidential Candidates On Same Platform’ (1995) 139 SJ 487.
(15) ‘Mears Attacks Meetings Plan’, LSG (1.6.95) 2; ‘Council Duo Bash Right Wing Agenda’, LSG (7.6.95) 3; ‘Larger Role for Local Law Societies’, LSG (14.6.95) 2; ‘Referenda’, LSG (14.6.95) 6; Henry Hodge, ‘Looking to the Future’, LSG (14.6.95) 18; Martin Mears, ‘Electoral Pledges’, LSG (14.6.95) 19; Eileen Pembridge, ‘The Pembridge Plan’, LSG (14.6.95) 20; Robert Sayer Manifesto, LSG (14.6.95) 22; John Aucott Election Statement, LSG (14.6.95) 22; ‘More Fisticuffs at the Hustings’ (1995) 145 NLJ 879; Henry Hodge, ‘If I Ruled the Law Society’ (1995) 139 SJ 577; ‘Notables declare for Hodge’, LSG (21.6.95) 2.
(16) ‘Block Vote Allegations Hit Society's Presidential Poll’, LSG (28.6.95) 3; ‘Elections: Council Accused of Being Anti-democratic’ (1995) 139 SJ 619; ‘Editorial: Wake up Chancery Lane’ (1995) 145 NLJ 949; ‘Law Society Candidates Denounce Election Irregularities’ (1995) 145 NLJ 950; ‘Comment: With Friends Like These … ’ (1995) 139 SJ 623; ‘Up for the Count’ (1995) 139 SJ 644; ‘Candidates Claim Final Hour Support’, LSG (5.7.95) 1.
(17) ‘The Closing Speeches’ (1995) 145 NLJ 967; ‘Candidates Face Race Debate’, LSG (5.7.95) 3.
(18) ‘Challenge for Surrey Seat’ (1995) 139 SJ 408; ‘Mears Victory’, LSG (13.7.95) 1; ‘Council in Careful Post-Ballot Mood’, LSG (13.7.95) 2; ‘Bogan Bags Surrey Seat on Council’, LSG (13.7.95) 2; ‘BLA Appeal’, LSG (13.7.95) 2; ‘Gloves Back On as Mears Picks Up Gauntlet’ (1995) 139 SJ 667; ‘Editorial: The Barbarians Enter the Gates’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1021; ‘Mears and Sayer Sweep to Power’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1022; ′Early ‘Comment: Time to Listen’ (1995) 139 SJ 671; ‘Opposition to Mears on Election Mandate’ (1995) 139 SJ 699.
(19) ‘Mears asks to be Judged on his Record’, LSG (19.7.95) 6; ‘Elly warns Mears not to Dash Hopes of Profession’ (1995) 139 SJ 700; ‘Comment: Raising Standards’ (1995) 139 SJ 703; ‘First (Wrong) Footing’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1082; Arun Arora, ‘The President's New Clothes’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1104; Martin Mears, ‘Comment: A Fully-Clothed President’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1153.
(20) Tony Holland, ‘Personal View: Je ne Regrette Rien’ (1995) 139 SJ 730; Martin Mears, ‘Letters: After the Election’ (1995) 139 SJ 758; Tony Holland, ‘Opinion: Realism, not Rhetoric’ (1995) 139 SJ 1144.
(21) Martin Mears, ‘President's Column: Down to Work’, LSG (31.8.95) 10.
(p.600) (22) ‘Mears Aims to Rein in the Bureaucrats’, LSG (13.9.95) 2; ‘Mears Proposes Radical Change at Society’ (1995) 139 SJ 887; ‘Comment: Too Many Cooks’ (1995) 139 SJ 891; ‘Editorial: High Eleven Ơclock’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1321; ‘Severance Packages’, LSG (25.10.95) 5; ‘Hayes to Go’, LSG (29.11.95) 1; ‘Moderniser Moves Forward’, LSG (29.11.95) 4; Arnold Rosen, ‘Comment: The Law Society on the Ropes’ (1996) 146 NLJ 168.
(23) I (20.9.95) §2, 13; ‘Editorial: A Positive Sign’, LSG (27.9.95) 14; ‘Society Reform Up for Discussion’, LSG (25.10.95) 5; Martin Bowley QC, ‘What's wrong with the Bar?’ I (22.11.95) §1, 12; Martin Mears, ‘Comment: New Bottles—Same Wine?’ (1996) 146 NLJ 43.
(24) ‘Law Society Council Meeting’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1394; ‘Mears Challenges Council on Reform’, LSG (11.10.95) 2; Martin Mears, ‘Profession “in Extremis”’, LSG (11.10.95) 12; ‘Mears Warns Profession, “Don't Murmur and then Do Nothing”’ (1995) 139 SJ 1000; ‘Comment: All Change’ (1995) 139 SJ 1004; ‘Mears in Direct Appeal to Council’, LSG (25.10.95) 2; ‘Editorial: The Second Mrs De Winter’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1601; ‘Council Faces Vote on Recording Debate’, LSG (8.11.95) 4; ‘Push for Democracy’, LSG (22.11.95) 56; ‘Sayer Proposes Council Reforms’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1714; ‘Editorial: Council Voting’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1713; ‘Council Approves Registered Voting’, LSG (14.12.95) 4; ‘Conveyancing Compromise for Consultation’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1878.
(25) ‘Aiming at Council’, LSG (18.10.95) 8; ‘Four Stand in West Country Election’, LSG (1.11.95) 4; ‘Edge Support’, LSG (8.11.95) 4; ‘Campaign Call’, LSG (15.11.95) 4; ‘Davies Wins Council Seat’, LSG (6.12.95) 4.
(26) Robert Sayer, ‘A Reform Party for the Profession’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1442; ‘Editorial: The Sword in the Stomach’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1437; ‘Mears Rallies Like Minds to Push His Reform Package’, LSG (29.11.95) 4; Martin Mears, ‘Creating the Machinery’ (1995) 145 NLJ 1715; ‘Editorial: Detente Time’, LSG (15.12.95) 14; Trevor Aldridge QC, ‘Opinion: On the Threshold’ (1996) 140 SJ 6.
(27) ‘Sayer accuses Society of Standing in Way of Reforms’, (1996) 140 SJ 59; ‘Comment: Anyone for £100k?’ (1996) 140 SJ 63; Richard Hegarty, ‘Letter to the Editor: Conveyancing Consultation’ (1996) 140 SJ 90; ‘Comment: Opening Up’ (1996) 140 SJ 115.
(28) ‘Mears warns Profession, “Don't Murmur and then Do Nothing”’, (1995) 139 SJ 1000; ‘Council Stays Cool over Mears Story’, LSG (24.1.96) 2; ‘Society Row Rages’, LSG (31.1.96) 2; ‘Libel Row Fuels Society Rift’ (1996) 140 SJ 88; ‘Mears v (Most of) the Rest’ (1996) 146 NLJ 114; ‘Editorial: Into the Trenches’ (1996) 146 NLJ 113; ‘Top Official Bails Out’, LSG (13.3.96) 48; ‘Law Society Loses Another Top Official’ (1996) 140 SJ 344; ‘Comment: Challenging Advice’ (1996) 140 SJ 347; ‘PR Supremo Quits Society’, LSG (17.4.96) 6.
(29) ‘Having a Party at Chancery Lane’, LSG (14.2.96) 10; Peter Watson-Lee, ‘Comment: Agenda for Change’, LSG (17.4.96) 13.
(30) ‘Row Hits Headlines’, LSG (21.2.96) 3; Tony Holland, ‘Comment: Calling a Ceasefire’ (1996) 146 NLJ 242; Martin Mears, ‘Comment: The Old Man of the West’ (1996) 146 NLJ 243.
(31) ‘“No More Junkets”, Says New Vice President’ (1995) 139 SJ 727; ‘Mears Sets Out his Stall’, LSG (28.2.96) 1; Martin Mears, ‘President's Column: Ghostbusting (p.601) Time at Chancery Lane’, LSG (28.2.96) 18; ‘Robert Sayer’ (1996) 140 SJ 212; ‘Keating Launches Bid for Top Office’, LSG (20.3.96) 2.
(32) ‘Path Clear for Election’, LSG (27.3.96) 1; ‘General Election Plan Postponed’, LSG (17.4.96) 2.
(33) ‘Comment: Divided we Stand’ (1996) 140 SJ 221; Geoffrey R Thomas, ‘Letters to the Editor: Divided we Stand’ (1996) 140 SJ 248.
(34) ‘Society Reform Gains Support’ (1996) 140 SJ 269; ‘Group Urges Split of Society's Roles’, LSG (3.4.96) 2; ‘New Association Formed to Split Up Law Society’, (1996) 140 SJ 319; Anthony Bogan, ‘Division Lobby’, LSG (17.4.96) 21; ‘The Times They are A-changing!’ (1996) 146 NLJ 620; Anthony Bogan, ‘Letters: Division of Roles Call’, LSG (1.5.96) 16.
(35) ‘Recruitment Drive’, LSG (9.5.96) 5; ‘600 Rally to Group’, LSG (30.5.96) 6.
(36) John Hayes, ‘A United Stand’, LSG (17.4.96) 20; ‘Constitution of a New Solicitors Association may be Unlawful’ (1996) 140 SJ 395; ‘Comment: Cost of Separation’ (1996) 140 SJ 399; ‘Probate Pilot’, LSG (9.5.96) 10; ‘Mears, Girling, Bogan—Who is Soliciting Whom?’ (1996) 140 SJ 599; ‘Probate Practitioners Urged to Fight Back’, LSG (10.7.96) 6.
(37) Martin Mears, ‘President's Column: The Sum is Greater … ’, LSG (24.4.96) 13; Anthony Bogan, ‘Letters: Division of Roles Call’, LSG (1.5.96) 16.
(38) ‘Trouble at t′ Law Society Again’ (196) 146 NLJ 362; Martin Mears, ‘President's Column: Try, Try, Try Again’, LSG (27.3.96) 17; ‘Comment: The Next Election’ (1996) 140 SJ 299; ‘Editorial: Who will rid us of these turbulent men?’ LA (3.96) 3; ‘Surrey Call for Debate’, LSG (3.4.96) 2; ‘Local Law Societies Anxious over Chancery Lane Polities’, LSG (9.5.96) 5; Andrew Lockley, ‘Dear Jane’ (1996) 140 SJ 519.
(39) ‘Pembridge Hints at Vote Challenge’, LSG (24.4.96) 2; ‘Comment: Discrimination’ (1996) 140 SJ 399; ‘Equality Issues Strain Relations between Law Society and Bar’ (1996) 146 NLJ 582; ‘Editorial: Fearless in Foolishness’ (1996) 146 NLJ 581; ‘Mears Award’, LSG (1.5.96) 2; Roger Smith, ‘It's the Economy, Stupid’ (1996) 146 NLJ 654; ‘Ensuring Equality’ LSG (9.5.96) 14.
(40) ‘“Get Big” to Survive, Legal Aid Firms Told’, LSG (1.5.96) 3; ‘Mears Defends his Record on Legal Aid’, LSG (1.5.96) 2; Martin Mears, ‘The Three Musketeers (ďArtagnan)’ (1996) 146 NLJ 673.
(41) ‘Solicitors launch anti-Mears group’, T (10.5.96) 2; ‘Comment: Brand New Leaders?’ (1996) 140 SJ 447; ‘Editorial: The Chancery Lane Challenge’, LSG (15.5.96) 15; ‘Campaign to Oust Mears’ (1996) 140 SJ 443; ‘Poll Fever Builds’, LSG (15.5.96) 1; Peter Watson-Lee, ‘Law Society Presidential Elections’ (1996) 140 SJ 471; Robert Sayer, ‘Law Society Presidential Elections’ (1996) 140 SJ 471; Peter Hughes, ‘Opinion’ (1996) 140 SJ 472; ‘Squaring up for Battle’, LSG (22.5.96) 14; ‘Election Slate Taking Shape’, LSG (22.5.96) 6.
(42) Martin Mears, ‘President's Column: Deep Throats and Soundbites’, LSG (22.5.96) 18; Martin Mears, ‘Opinion: Resurrection of the Sound Men’ (1996) 140 SJ 522.
(43) ‘Fifth Quits Society’, LSG (22.5.96) 8; ‘Editorial: A Call to Opposition in Chancery Lane’ (1996) 146 NLJ 741; ‘Comment: The Law Society—Again’ (1996) 140 SJ 499; ‘Pannone Joins Campaign for New Leadership’ (1996) 140 SJ 495; ‘Society Vote Appears Certain’, LSG (30.5.96) 6; ‘Leaving Thoughts’, LSG (30.5.96) 13; ‘Comment: Partner Liability’ (1996) 140 SJ 523; ‘Hayes Joins in Criticism of Mears’ (p.602) (1996) 140 SJ 519; Martin Mears, ‘Opinion: Resurrection of the Sound Men’ (1996) 140 SJ 522; ‘Mears Backtracks on Meeting’ (1996) 146 NLJ 778; Martin Mears, ‘Comment: Open Letter to Rodger Pannone’ (1996) 146 NLJ 780; ‘David Mcintosh to Stand for Law Society Council’ (1996) 140 SJ 549.
(44) ‘Election fight is On’, LSG (5.6.96) 1; ‘Challenge to Mears Launched’ (1996) 146 NLJ 834; ‘Election Set to Become a Personality Battle’ (1996) 140 SJ 547; ‘Mears Team Fires Opening Shots as Election Battle Lines are Drawn’, LSG (12.6.96) 8; ‘Mears's Team Release Manifesto’ (1996) 146 NLJ 906; (1996) 146 NLJ 907.
(45) ‘Comment: Healthy Competition’ (1996) 140 SJ 551; ‘Society Split “Bizarre”’, says Q C, LSG (12.6.96) 8.
(46) LSG (12.6.96) 23.; Letter To All Solicitors from Martin Mears, Robert Sayer and David Keating (6.96); ‘A Business Plan for the Society’ (1996) 146 NLJ 906; ‘A Modern Moderate’, LSG (26.6.96) 13; Tony Girling, Phillip Sycamore, Michael Mathews, ‘On the Stump’, LSG (26.6.96) 16; Martin Mears, Robert Sayer, David Keating, ‘On the Stump’, LSG (26.6.96) 17; ‘Mears Admits Mistakes as Election Campaign Reaches Final Stages’, LSG (3.7.96) 6; Phillip Sycamore, ‘Final Pitch’, LSG (3.7.96) 13.
(47) ‘Presidential Election Update: Week Two’ (1996) 140 SJ 572; ‘Girling Alleges Pre-Election Deal’, LSG (19.6.96) 5; ‘Gloves are Off in Mears/Girling Fight’ (1996) 146 NLJ 906.
(48) ‘The Third Man’, LSG (19.6.96) 13; ‘Mears, Girling, Bogan—Who is Soliciting Whom?’ (1996) 140 SJ 599; Anthony Bogan, ‘On the Stump’, LSG (26.6.96) 16.
(49) ‘Battling All the Way’ LSG (3.7.96) 12; Robert Sayer, ‘Final Pitch’, LSG (3.7.96) 13.
(50) Two years later Girling admitted: ‘actually, no, I didn't want him obviously. He was on my policy committee because that's what our constitution says. But obviously he saw his role as a defeated president as being someone who was going to find out as much as he could about ideas when they were in the very early stages and then rubbish them’ (interview July 1998).
(51) ‘Editorial: Silver Feet’ (1996) 146 NLJ 905; ‘Rebuke for Law Society Treasurer’ (1996) 146 NLJ 907; ‘Triumph for Girling Team’, LSG (17.7.96) 1; T (23.7.96) 33; ‘Broad Welcome for New Leaders’, LSG (17.7.96) 10; ‘Editorial: New Beginnings’, LSG (17.7.96) 14; ‘Profession Looks Forward to a New Start’ (1996) 140 SJ 703 ‘Comment: Solicitors want Results’ (1996) 140 SJ 707; ‘Girling takes out Mears’ (1996) 146 NLJ 1050; ‘Editorial: Hope for the Future’ (1996) 146 NLJ 1049; ‘Howells Resigns as Papers are Leaked’ (1996) 146 NLJ 1086; ‘Editorial: A Necessary Inquiry’ (1996) 146 NLJ 1085; ‘Split Functions to Go to Ballot’ (1996) 146 NLJ 1086; ‘Comment: Local Law Societies’ (1996) 140 SJ 783.
(52) Tony Girling, ‘President's Column: Serving the Whole Profession’, LSG (24.7.96) 14; ‘Society Officials face Criticism over Commonwealth Conference’, LSG (25.9.96) 5; Tony Girling, ‘President's Column: Forward Motion’, LSG (25.9.96) 18; ‘Chancery Lane Budget Top Up’, LSG (23.10.96) 5; ‘Chancery Lane Rumbles’, LSG (30.10.96) 6; ‘Mears & Sayer on the Attack’ (1996) 146 NLJ 1571; ‘Inns and Outs’, T (5.11.96) 41; Tony Girling, ‘President's Column: Highs and Lows in Office’, LSG (27.11.96) 17; Martin Mears, ‘Trips for the Chaps’, Cat (12.96) 10.
(53) Law Society, Letter to Members (19.6.96); ‘Votes for All’ (1996) 146 NLJ 1266; ‘Editorial: A Split Society?’ (1996) 146 NLJ 1305; ‘Girling Warns Schism could (p.603) Trigger Exodus’, LSG (18.9.96) 1; ‘A Question of Roles’, LSG (18.9.96) 18; ‘Anthony Bogan and David Thomas, Time to Split the Law Society?’ (1996) 140 SJ 912; ‘Editorial: One Conference, one Voice’ (1996) 146 NLJ 1449; ‘Voters Reject Split Society’, LSG (16.10.96) 1; ‘Split of Function Debate to Continue Despite Ballot Defeat’ (1996) 140 SJ 988.
(54) Cat (12.96); Martin Mears, ‘Foul Slurs’, Cat (3.97) 3.
(55) ‘Practising Certificate Crisis’ (1996) 140 SJ 87; ‘Damning Verdict on Regis Managers’, LSG (27.11.96) 1; ‘In Council’, LSG (13.12.96) 5; ‘Tails Wag Dog at Council Meeting’ (1996) 146 NLJ 1842; ‘REGIS Errors Lead to Management Review’ (1996) 140 SJ 1212; ‘Editorial: Finance and the Law Society’ (1997) 147 NLJ 41; Robert Sayer, ‘Comment: Is the Society Going into the Red?’ (1997) 147 NLJ 44; ‘Betts Tests Policies at the Grassroots’, LSG (5.2.97) 1; Robert Sayer, ‘Comment: Non-starters at Chancery Lane’ (1997) 147 NLJ 156; ‘Deputy Treasurer Poll’, LSG (19.2.97) 4; ‘Sayer for Treasurer—At Least’ (1997) 147 NLJ 283; ‘HSSK Killed Off’(1997) 147 SJ 196; ‘The HSSK Wagon’ (1997) 147 NLJ 37; ‘Law Soc Staff Face Disciplinary Action’ (1997) 141 SJ 99; ‘Tribunal Threat for Ex-Managers’, LSG (19.2.97) 5; ‘Ross to Handle Board Complaint’ (1997) 147 NLJ 247.
(56) ‘Mears Launches Newsletter in Bid to Create “Healthy Debate”’ (1997) 141 SJ 51; Martin Mears, ‘Another fine mess for the Law Society’, T (18.2.97); ‘Sayer Launches Early Bid for Presidency’, LSG (19.2.97) 1; ‘Mears' Last Stand’ (1997) 141 SJ 147; ‘Sayer for President?’ (1997) 147 NLJ 246; ‘Spending Queried’, LSG (26.2.97) 4; ‘Mears and Sayer Consider the Future’, (1997) 141 SJ 172; Robert Sayer, ‘Letters to the Editor: Future of the Profession’ (1997) 141 SJ 174; ‘Changing Partners at Law Society’ (1997) 147 NLJ 282.
(57) Cat (3.97).
(58) Tony Girling, ‘President's Column: Getting Back’, LSG (19.3.97) 18; Martin Mears, ‘Chancery Lane’, LSG (3.4.97) 22.
(59) Phillip Sycamore, ‘The profession must speak with one voice’, T (4.3.97) 39; ‘Sayer Ponders Sycamore's Olive Branch’, LSG (5.3.97) 1; ‘Olive Branch Extended to Sayer’ (1997) 141 SJ 195; ‘An Offer he can't Refuse?’ (1997) 147 NLJ 334; ‘Robert Sayer Wants more Details’ (1997) 147 NLJ 335; ‘Mears and Sayer Set for Head to Head’ (1997) 141 SJ 223; ‘Divide and Rule’ (1997) 147 NLJ 370; Phillip Sycamore and Michael Mathews, ‘Progress not Politics’, LSG (19.3.97) 24.
(60) ‘Mears and Sayer at Odds Again’ (1997) 147 NLJ 442.
(61) ‘Mears Throws down Election Gauntlet’, LSG (12.3.97) 1; Robert Sayer, ‘Let's Get this Sorted Now’, LSG (12.3.97) 18; ‘Sayer Lines Up with Sycamore and Mathews’, LSG (9.4.97) 1; ‘A New Lasting Relationship?’ (1997) 141 NLJ 518; ‘Mears is ready to quit election as Sayer and Sycamore unite’, L (15.4.97) 1; ‘Editorial: Who should Run the Law Society?’ (1997) 147 NLJ 589; Phillip Sycamore, Michael Mathews and Robert Sayer, ‘Trio for Change’, LSG (14.5.97) 17.
(62) ‘Profession tells Society Home Truths in Survey’, LSG (29.5.97) 1; ‘Editorial: Getting the Message Across’, LSG (29.5.97) 15; John Jenkins, ‘Internal Affairs’, LSG (29.5.97) 24–25; ‘Mears Sets Sights on Come-back’, LSG (4.6.97) 1; ‘Mears Stands for President’ (1997) 141 SJ 533; ‘The Return of the Bogeyman?’ (1997) 147 NLJ 838; Martin Mears, ‘Letters to the Editor: Time of Reckoning’, LSG (11.6.97) 15.
(63) ‘Editorial: Support for the Law Society up 100 per cent … from 1 per cent’ (1997) 147 NLJ 837.
(p.604) (64) Cat (6.97); David Mcintosh, ‘Common Purpose’, Cat (6.97) 18; Martin Mears, ‘Common Purpose: A Reply’, Cat (6.97) 18.
(65) ‘A Message to the Profession from Robert Sayer’, LSG (11.6.97) 17; ‘Law Society Corner’ (1997) 147 NLJ 875; Martin Mears, ‘The Trojan Horse’ (1997) 147 NLJ 878; Robert Sayer, ‘The Plain Truth’ (1997) 147 NLJ 879; Robert Sayer, ‘Letters to the Editor: Lesson to Learn’, LSG (18.6.97) 16; ‘Mears Calls for Co-Operation’ (1997) 141 SJ 588; Martin Mears, ‘Robert Sayer: Conversion of a Radical?’ Cat (6.97) 16; Bluebottle, ‘Chancery Lane: What Do They All Do?’ Cat (6.97) 24.
(66) ‘Poll Position’, LSG (25.6.97) 15.
(67) Phillip Sycamore, ‘Sycamore-Mathews-Sayer’, LSG (18.6.97) 12; Martin Mears, ‘Mears-Keating-Savage’, LSG (18.6.97) 14.
(68) ‘Leaked Note Sparks Resignation Call’, LSG (25.6.97) 1; ‘Campaign Memo Provokes Dispute’, LSG (25.6.97) 6; ‘Letters to the Editor: Baker Speaks Up’, LSG (25.6.97) 18; ‘The Solicitors Indemnity Fund: What Will It Mean For You?’ (1997) 141 SJ 610; ‘Mears Calls on Sycamore to Withdraw’ (1997) 141 SJ 611; ‘Comment: Voters Deserve Better’ (1997) 141 SJ 615; ‘Election Issues’ (1997) 141 SJ 626; ‘Furore Over Election Campaign’ (1997) 147 NLJ 946; Phillip Sycamore, ‘Progress, not Politics’ (1997) 147 NLJ 953; Martin Mears, ‘Portos & Co: a Question of Credibility’ (1997) 147 NLJ 954; ‘OSS Complaint Threat Looms in Election Battle’, LSG (2.7.97) 1; ‘Campaign Fall-Out’, LSG (2.7.97) 14; ‘Law Society Policy Committee Blocks Discussion on Leaked Election “Notes’” (1997) 147 NLJ 982; ‘Mears Challenged Sycamore’ (1997) 147 NLJ 982; Robin de Wilde QC, ‘Comment: Sorting out the Mess in Chancery Lane’ (1997) 147 NLJ 981.
(69) ‘Sycamore Line-up wins Hands Down’, LSG (16.7.97) 1; ‘Sycamore Trounces Mears’ (1997) 147 NLJ 1054; Martin Mears, ‘Letters: A triumph?’ (1997) 147 NLJ 1144; Martin Mears, ‘Red Hot Litigators rule?’ T (6.1.98) 35.
(70) ‘Comment: Silence Speaks Volumes’ (1997) 141 SJ 687; ‘Editorial: Post Election Blues’ (1997) 147 NLJ 1053.
(71) ‘YSG gets Council Seat’, LSG (12.6.91) 10; ‘Young Solicitors Call for Increased Representation’ (1997) 141 SJ 148; ‘Council Postpones Decision on Designated Women's Seat’, LSG (23.4.97) 5; ‘Young Pitch for Council Revamp’, LSG (12.5.97) 5; ‘Committees face Deadlock over Future of Council Women's Seat’, LSG (21.5.97) 5; ‘Council Rejects Women's Seat’, LSG (11.6.97) 4; ‘No Seat to Represent Women's Interests’ (1997) 147 NLJ 874; ‘Bahl Launches Bid to be first Woman Leader’, LSG (29.10.97) 1; ‘The True Value of a Solicitor’ (1997) 147 NLJ 1580; ‘TSG Bids for Council Seat’, LSG (10.12.97) 6; ‘TSG Ruling’, LSG (21.1.98) 5.
(72) ‘Probate Practitioners become First to Win Dedicated Section’, LSG (2.7.97) 5; ‘Editorial: Getting Sectioned’, LSG (2.7.97) 15; ‘Practitioners Flock to Join new Law Society Section’ (1997) 141 SJ 832; ‘Probate Practitioners Rush to Embrace Specialist Section’, LSG (17.9.97) 5; ‘Council Shake-up Call’, LSG (22.10.97) 6; ‘Euro Section could See End of SEG’, LSG (10.6.98) 6; ‘C&I Group Attacks Sections Policy’, LSG (11.2.98) 1; ‘Business Man’, LSG (15.7.98) 10; ‘Law Management Section Unveiled’ (1998) 142 SJ 661.
(74) ‘City “Neglect” Call’, LSG (17.12.97) 9; Tony Holland, ‘The end of lawyers' self-regulation?’ T (17.3.98) 39; Phillip Sycamore, ‘In the public interest’, T (28.4.98) 41; Arora and Francis 1998: 18).
(p.605) (75) ‘Editorial: Retrograde Step’ (1998) 148 NLJ 149; ‘Election Plea’, LSG (11.2.98) 5; ‘Editorial: Titanic Struggles Ahead for Bahl?’ (1998) 148 NLJ 197; ‘Plot Claim’, LSG (18.2.98) 5; ‘Council Rejects Nomination Plan’, LSG (11.3.98) 5; ‘Revised “Buggins Turn” Rejected’ (1998) 142 SJ 220; ‘Defeat for Return of Post-modern Buggins’ (1998) 148 NLJ 359.
(76) Robert Sayer, ‘Comment: Costs and Value’, LSG (26.2.98) 16; ‘Sayer to Fight on “Customer Friendly” Platform’ (1998) 142 SJ 363.
(77) ‘Election Talk’, LSG (29.4.98) 4; Martin Mears, ‘Lawspeak … ’ (1998) 148 NLJ 678; David Mcintosh, ‘Comment: Why I will Run’, LSG (13.5.98) 14; ‘Contest Kicks Off, LSG’(13.5.98) 5; ‘War of Words Begins as Mcintosh Launches Bid’ (1998) 142 SJ 437; ‘Contested Election at Chancery Lane’ (1998) 148 NLJ 686; ‘Comment: Make your Views Count’ (1998) 142 SJ 439; Martin Mears, ‘Lawspeak … ’ (1998) 142 NLJ 761; David Mcintosh, ‘Standing Together’ (1998) 142 SJ 464.
(78) ‘Napier to Challenge Mathews for Top Job’, LSG (20.5.98) 1; Robert Sayer, ‘Comment: No Need for a Poll’, LSG (20.5.98) 16; ‘Napier's Bid for President Leaves Rival Puzzled’ (1998) 142 SJ 461; ‘Napier Throws in his Hat’ (1998) 148 NLJ 738; Robert Sayer, ‘This is not a Game’ (1998) 142 SJ 486; Michael Napier, ‘My Presidential Bid’, LSG (28.5.98) 20.
(79) ‘Keating to Run against Bahl, LSG (3.6.98) 4; ‘Mears backs Keating for Deputy Vice President’ (1998) 142 SJ 508; David Keating, ‘Life or Death for the Rural Practice’ (1998) 148 NLJ 848; ‘Contest is Good for Me, says Bahl’ (1998) 142 SJ 532; Advertisement (1998) 142 SJ 557.
(80) Advertisement, LSG (3.6.98) 7; Michael Mathews, ‘Going for the Top’, LSG (3.6.98) 16; Michael Napier, ‘Why I am Deadly Serious’ (1998) 142 SJ 512; Michael Mathews, ‘Experience Counts’ (1998) 142 SJ 534.
(81) ‘Election Tussle’, LSG (17.6.98) 5; ‘Sayer Savages “Egomaniac” Rival’ (1998) 142 SJ 557.
(82) Advertisement, LSG (10.6.98) 7; Advertisement, LSG (17.6.98) 7; ‘Decision Time’, LSG (17.6.98) 22; Kamlesh Bahl, ‘Putting Solicitors First’ (1998) 142 SJ 560; Advertisement, LSG (24.6.98) 23; David Keating, ‘Practical Knowledge’ (1998) 142 SJ 586; ‘The profession's new face’, I (Fri Rev) (26.6.98) 20; ‘Candidates Clash over Debates and Priorities as Election Nears’, LSG (1.7.98) 5.
(83) ‘Mathews, Sayer and Bahl Triumph’, LSG (15.7.98) 1; ‘Victory for Mathews, Sayer and Bahl’ (1998) 142 SJ 659; ‘Comment: New Mood for New Millenium?’ (1998) 142 SJ 663; ‘Into the Spotlight’, LSG (22.7.98) 9; ‘Bahl to Focus on Chancery Lane’, LSG (26.8.98) 5; ‘“I want to make lawyers' voices heard”’, T (17.11.98) 41.
(84) ‘New image for Law Society’, T (21.9.98) 7; ‘Sweeping Reforms at Law Society’, LSG (30.9.98) 4; Robert Sayer, ‘Changing Times’, LSG (14.10.98) 18; ‘Bogan Calls for Legal Services “Super Regulator”’, (1998) 142 SJ 924; ‘First Steps’, LSG (4.11.98) 30; ‘Getting in Shape’, LSG (2.12.98) 15; ‘Editorial: Packing a Punch’, LSG (2.12.98) 16; ‘Society Sets Down Road to Reform’, LSG (10.12.98) 4; ‘Comment: View from the City’, LSG (10.12.98) 15; ‘Legal diary’, T (15.12.98) 35; ‘DVP Only should be Elected, Sayer Suggests’ (1999) 143 SJ 284; ‘New Public Face for Law Society’, LSG (28.4.99) 4; ‘Director-General for Society, as Council Members Demand Cash’ (1999) 143 SJ 404; ‘Comment: Change and Decay at (p.606) Chancery Lane’ (1999) 143 SJ 431; Robert Sayer, ‘Opinion: A Long Way to Go’ (1999) 143 SJ 478.
(85) ‘Trainees Battle for Council Seat’, LSG (27.1.99) 4; ‘In-house Fury at Council Seat Loss’, LSG (19.5.99) 4; ‘Editorial: Here we Go Again … ’ (1999) 149 NLJ 845; ‘Corrections’, LSG (22.9.99) 5.
(86) ‘C&I Group Hits Out’, LSG (3.2.99) 4; ‘In-house Qualification Planned’, LSG (23.6.99) 6; ‘C&I Group to Relaunch as Company’, LSG (13.10.99) 3.
(87) HC Standing Committee E (13.5.99).
(88) HC 333: 1028–38 (22.6.99); HL 604: 456–63 (14.7.99); ‘Irvine moves to block Law Society union fund’, T (13.5.99) 8; ‘Editorial: Let's Scare all the Lawyers’, (1999) 149 NLJ 701; Martin Mears, ‘Lawspeak … ’ (1999) 149 NLJ 726; ‘Powers Struggle’, LSG (19.5.99) 5; Mark Sheldon, ‘Letters to the Editor: Role of the Law Society’, T (19.5.99) 21; ‘APIL President Attacks Both Sides in Advertising Row’ (1999) 143 SJ 476; ‘Lawyers warned of Irvine curbs’, T (2.6.99) 2; LSG (3.6.99); Stanley Best, ‘Letters: Speaking up for Solicitors’ (1999) 143 SJ 554; Martin Mears, ‘Ignoring the strong arm of the law’, T (22.6.99) 37; ‘Labour revolt over personal injury curbs’, G (23.6.99) 8; ‘Access to Justice Monitoring’ (1999) 149 NLJ 958; ‘Labour Revolt over Personal Injury Cut’ (1999) 143 SJ 603; ‘Irvine Rejects Discrete Public Interest Fund as Justice Bill nears Completion’, LSG (30.6.99) 5; ‘Lords block legal aid reform Bill’, T (15.7.99) 2; ‘Defeat Could Delay Justice Bill’, LSG (21.7.99) 5; ‘Irvine in Trouble over Public Defenders’ (1999) 143 SJ 700; Trevor Aldridge QC, ‘Opinion: A Divided Future?’ (1999) 143 SJ 730; Access to Justice Act 1999 § 47.
(89) Martin Mears, ‘Lawspeak … ’ (1999) 149 NLJ 726; ‘Keating to Stand’, LSG (3.6.99) 5; ‘Keating to Challenge Sayer for Presidency’ (1999) 149 NLJ 846; ‘Editorial: Here we Go Again … ’ (1999) 149 NLJ 845; ‘Sayer Stands by Outspoken Attack as Presidential Campaign Begins’, LSG (9.6.99) 3; ‘A Message for Robert Sayer’, LSG (9.6.99) 9; Robert Sayer, ‘Comment: Key Questions’, LSG (9.6.99) 16; ‘Keating Hopes for Fourth Time Lucky in Election Bid’ (1999) 143 SJ 551; ‘A Week (More or Less) in the Law … ’ (1999) 143 NLJ 883; Robert Sayer, ‘Restoring Relevance’ (1999) 149 NLJ 882; ‘Editorial: Professional Fouls’ (1999) 149 NLJ 881; Martin Mears, ‘Lawspeak … ’ (1999) 149 NLJ 910; ‘Comment: Conduct Unbecoming’ (1999) 143 SJ 555; ‘Writ large’, G2 (15.6.99) 8; ‘Legal diary’, T (15.6.99) 41; ‘Keating Considers Libel Action as Acrimonious Campaign Continues’, LSG (16.6.99) 5; Tony Girling, ‘Letters to the Editor’, LSG (16.6.99) 16; ‘The Law Society Presidential Election 1999: A Question of Fitness’, LSG (16.6.99) 23; (1999) 149 NLJ 920; (1999) 143 SJ 586; ‘Decision Time’, LSG (16.6.99) 24; David Keating, ‘The Mood for Change’ (1999) 149 NLJ 924; ‘Presidential Challenger Alleges Libel’ (1999) 143 SJ 577; Martin Mears, ‘Lawspeak … ’ (1999) 149 NLJ 950; ‘Saver's Truce Bid’, LSG (23.6.99) 6; ‘Press Round-Up’, LSG (23.6.99) 12; ‘Sayer Admits Regret over Outburst’ (1999) 143 SJ 605; Stanley Best, ‘Letters: Vulgar Abuse’ (1999) 149 NLJ 960; Robert Sayer, ‘Actions not Words’, LSG (30.6.99) 16; ‘Letters’ (1999) 143 SJ 630; ‘Legal diary’, T (13.7.99) 43; ‘Sayer Triumphs in Lowest Ever Poll’, LSG (14.7.99) 1; ‘Sayer Triumphs at Last’ (1999) 143 SJ 675; ‘Press Round-Up’, LSG (21.7.99) 12; ‘Libel Damages for Keating’ (1999) 149 NLJ 1394; ‘Keating Victory’, LSG (29.9.99) 4.
(p.607) (90) ‘Society to Appoint Chief Executive in Reform of Corporate Governance’, LSG (20.10.99) 4.
(91) I (20.9.95) §2 13; Martin Bowley QC, ‘What's Wrong with the Bar?’ I (22.11.95) §1 12; ‘Law Society chief plans to take over the Bar’, T (30.10.99) 8; ‘Solicitors’ body to move to represent all lawyers', FT (30–31.10.99) 3; ‘Sayer Sets Out Vision of Fused Profession’, LSG (3.11.99) 1; Robert Sayer, ‘Beginning of an Era’, LSG (3.11.99) 16; ‘Sayer's Vision gets Mixed Reception’ (1999) 143 SJ 1024.
(92) ‘Top lawyer fights bully claim’, T (16.12.99) 1; ‘Bahl to Face Bullying Probe’, LSG (17.12.99) 5; ‘Inquiry into Law Society “bullying”’, T (17.12.99) 1; ‘Law Society's officer could face more claims of bullying’, T (21.12.99) 4; ‘Bahl “Considering” Legal Action’, LSG (16.3.00) 3; ‘The Law Society suspends “bully” vice-president’, T (17.3.00); ‘Law chief quits after staff bullying report’ DT (22.3.00); ‘Bahl Quits Law Society Council but Keeps on with Legal Action’, LSG (23.3.00) 3; ‘Kamlesh Bahl: SGM Cancelled’, LSG (14.4.00) 1; ‘Asian woman “toppled by male elite at Law Society”’, DT (29.11.00); ‘Law Society chief “was left shaking after outburst’”, DT (30.11.00); ‘Law chief in tears over “barbarism”’, DT (1.12.00); ‘Law chief's shame at office broadcast’, DT (2.12.00); ‘Reputations are the real victims’, T (6.7.01); ‘Law Society woman wins sex and race claim despite lying under oath’, DT (6.7.01); ‘Lies, race and sex’, DT (7.7.01); ‘Law Council to fight racial bias claims’, DT (14.7.01); ‘Lawyers' chief faces victimization claim’, DT (18.8.01).
(93) ‘Mcintosh wins Society Election’, LSG (20.4.00) 3; ‘Sayer Promises Reforms as he Seeks Second Year as President’, LSG (5.5.00) 3; ‘Law Society Elections Shape Up’, LSG (25.5.00) 3; ‘Election Special’, LSG (15.6.00) 18–22; ‘Napier Offers Forum for the Discontented’, LSG (22.6.00) 4; ‘Napier Celebrates Convincing Victory’, LSG (13.7.00) 3.
(94) Royal Commission (1979: Vol. I, paras. 32.19–80 and RR32. 1–16); Robin de Wilde, ‘Counsel's Opinion: A Campaign for the Bar’ (1985) 82 LSG 1245–6; David Calcutt QC and Robert Alexander QC, ‘Counsel's Opinion: A Campaign for the Bar: Campaign Report’ (1985) 82 LSG 1554–5; ‘Counsel's Opinion: A Campaign for the Bar: A Reply to the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Bar’ (1985) 82 LSG 1845–6; Robert Alexander QC, ‘Forward We Go!’ C (Michaelmas 1985) 1; T985 AGM Highlights', C (Michaelmas 1985) 23–26; ‘Senate and Bar News: Annual General Meetings’ (1985) 82 LSG 2325–9; ‘Radical Reform for Bar’ (1986) 83 LSG 1278; ‘Senate and Bar News: EGM of Subscribers to the Senate; EGM of the Bar’ (1986) 83 LSG 2321–4; ‘Ballot of the Practising Bar’ (1986) 83 LSG 2493; ‘Compulsory Subscriptions: Ballot’ (1986) 83 LSG 3256; Anthony Speaight, ‘Letters: No Votes for Employed Bar’, C (Hilary 1986) 61; J D A Heal, ‘Letters: A Speaight of retort from Employed Bar’, C (Easter 1986) 61; ‘Senate and Bar AGMs Reflect Unique Year of Progress’, C (Michaelmas 1986) 16; Abel (1988: 126–33); ‘Bar Council ponders cash-raising problem’, L (16.10.90) 1; ‘The Year of the Ordinary Working Barrister’, C (12.90) 3; ‘Pay Up, Pay up and Play the Game’, C (12.90) 12–14; ‘The Campaign for the Bar’, C (12.90) 21; General Council of the Bar, Annual Report (1990) 7; ‘Barristers may have to continue legal study’, T (4.2.91); ‘New Bar Chairman’, C (11–12.92) 4; C (11–12.93) 27; ‘Bar hit by subs shortfall’, L (27.9.94); ‘Bar Fails to Secure Subscription Sanctions’, LSG (11.5.95) 2; ‘Bar Council Reviews Subs Arrangements’, C (7–8.95) 5.
(p.608) (95) Royal Commission (1979: i, paras. 32.6–7); Lord Benson, ‘The Future of the Bar’, C (7.91) 14–15; ‘Neat reformer follows radical volcano’, I (20.12.91) 16; ‘Opening up the debate’, T (3.3.92) 7; Joint Committee (1991: 1, 8; Minority Report 1–2); Lord Benson, ‘The Governance of the Profession’, C (9–10.94) 8; Lord Rawlinson, ‘The Governance of the Profession’, C (9–10.94) 8, 10; Martin Bowley QC, ‘The Governance of the Profession’, C (9–10.94) 10, 12, 14; Martin Bowley QC, ‘What's wrong with the Bar?’ I (22.11.95) §1, 12; Martin Bowley QC, Asking the Wrong Questions', C (5–6.96) 16, 18.
(96) Derek Wheatley QC, ‘The Inns under pressure to reform’, T (3.3.92) 7; ‘Boiling point’, T (16.11.93); ‘CPS Barrister Elections Fuel Advocacy Debate’, LSG (24.11.93) 5; ‘Royal Charter’, C (1–2.94) 6; ‘Employed Bar Rule Change’, LSG (1.2.95) 3; ‘Employed barristers set for top posts’, L (7.2.95).
(97) Robin de Wilde, ‘Trouble at t'Law Society’, C (9–10.95) 8; Robert Owen QC, ‘Chairman's Column: The Governance of the Bar—Constitutional Reform’, C (5–6.97) 3; ‘Bar Council Meeting Berates Inns of Court over Equal Opportunities’, LSG (25.6.97) 8; ‘Defeat for de Wilde’, C (7–8.97) 4; ‘Bar AGM—1997’, BB (9.97) 4; General Council of the Bar, Annual Report 1997. Robert Seabrook claimed ‘good democratic credentials’ because he ‘always refused co-option with the circuit and Bar Council’ and was ‘for election all the way up’. But ‘when it comes to the chairmanship you've got to select people who will be respected’. Direct election was ‘a recipe for disaster’ (interview July 1998).
(98) ‘Proposed Application by the Employed and Non-Practising Bar Association to Become an Authorised Body for the Purpose of Granting Rights of Audience’ (7.12.98) 7; 6 EN (4.99) 5–6; Letter from Dr Peter Gray to Mr Pitt c /o Robert Spicer, Frederick Place Chambers, Bristol (25.5.99); 115 BN (7.99) 9; 7 EN (8.99) 4.
(99) BB (3.99) 5; Susan Ward, ‘Letter from the Chairman’, BB (7.99) 1–2; ‘Bar AGM: 12th June 1999’, 7 EN (8.99) 4; Derek Wheatley QC, ‘One Bar … ’, BB (9.99) 4.
(101) General Council of the Bar, Response to ‘Rights of Audience and Rights to Conduct Litigation in England and Wales: The Way Ahead’, Executive Summary and 46–7 (14.9.98); HL 596: 1229–33 (28.1.99); Dan Brennan QC, ‘Chairman's Report’, 113 BN (5.99) 3; HC 333: 1028–38 (22.6.99); Susan Ward, ‘Letter from the Chairman’, BB (7.99) 1, 7–8; 116 BN (8.99) 7; 118 BN (10.99) 9; AJA 1999 s.46.
(102) Hayes regretted that ‘professional bodies are increasingly the home of the disillusioned and the mediocre’. Participation in Law Society politics had ‘more to do with the frustrations of professional life and wanting to have an extra dimension to life. The jokey thing was always that at that stage in life it's either becoming a shop steward, joining a professional body, or adultery. One president of the Law Society said, “well, perhaps in my experience all three”’ (interview July 1998).
(103) Tony Girling, ‘President's Column: Recipe for Leadership’, LSG (25.6.97) 22.
(104) ‘Should the AWS be Abolished?’ (1995) 139 SJ 999.
(106) ‘Groups to Merge?’ LSG (3.4.97) 6; ‘Editorial: A Stronger Voice’ (1997) 147 NLJ 517; ‘Solicitors’ societies join forces', L (15.4.97) 2; ‘BLA Again Calls for Society Split’ (1997) 147 NLJ 554; Robin de Wilde QC, ‘Defunct Bodies-Professional Organisations that Fail the Lawyers’ (1997) 147 NLJ 612.
(p.609) (107) ‘“Beleagured” Criminal Law Specialists Decry Treatment’, LSG (24.11.95) 3; ‘Taking Out a Contract’, LSG (24.2.99) 10.
(108) Tony Holland declared the Society ‘an irrelevance because they've lost so much credibility in public with these internal elections they're having every five minutes because the point is that someone fighting an election, you can't say my platform is to protect the public, you appeal to the profession, so of course you're a trade unionist’ (interview July 1998). Tony Girling called contested elections ‘a very time expensive and actually quite expensive fiscally exercise in order to try to reach the consciousness of a profession which is previously not necessarily, in many cities, know who the hell's doing what and what they stand for and so on. It's a very unsatisfactory system … the election last year and the election this year are a demonstration frankly it isn't a system that works’ (interview July 1998). In July 1998 Marc Sheldon ‘regret[ted] actually that the progression from vice president to president is being interrupted again by an election’ ‘In the days before 1969 when democracy broke out there used to be a crazy thing called the London vacancies committee which used to nominate candidates for the Council in respect to the London area. And that used to result in people … going onto the Council without having to face the hustings, doing a term, becoming president, and then going off. And that was all stopped in ′69. The result is that most City practitioners wouldn't want to stand for Council’ (interview). John Hayes called contested elections ‘total bilge, the whole idea. You have to ask a simple question. What power has the president got? As he has no power, why on earth waste time and money atrophying an organisation’. If the ‘organisation is going through an election each year it becomes increasingly difficult to focus on medium-, still less long-term, issues’. ‘It's an election of the invisible for an agenda for the impossible’ (interview July 1998).
(109) John Hayes ‘used to say’ to ‘the firms who know their destiny and have the capacity to implement it … the Law Society is just largely irrelevant … the largest single charitable gift they made each year’. ‘I think most of the practitioners, especially the very good ones, are not interested in politics of any sort let alone professional politics’ (interview July 1998). Marc Sheldon agreed that ‘the big City firms on the whole remain supremely indifferent to the Law Society … on the whole they don't benefit from much of what the Law Society does’ (interview July 1998).