Local government lawyers should continue to have a minimum of two seats – and arguably more – on the Law Society Council, the Association of Council Secretaries and Solicitors has told Chancery Lane.
The Council currently has 100 seats, of which 61 are geographical and 39 non-geographical. The latter cover practices areas such as child care law, commercial property and international practice, as well as organisations such as the Association of Women Solicitors, the Black Solicitors’ Network and the Commerce & Industry Group.
Chancery Lane’s council membership committee has responsibility for advising the Council on the designations to be applied to the non-geographical seats and the appropriate method of filling them.
The terms of office of all the non-geographical members, with the exception of the member representing the Junior Lawyers’ Division, expire at the same time.
This means that every four years the committee has to review those designations and the methods of filling the seats, and report to Council.
The terms are due to expire at the Law Society’s AGM in July 2013, which has prompted the committee to conduct a consultation.
In a submission to the consultation, ACSeS Policy Officer Tony Kilner wrote: “We urge that local government solicitors should continue to be represented on the Law Society Council and that such representation should properly reflect the numbers of solicitors working for local authorities. Continuing with two members would be the minimum.
“However we suggest that a more proportional approach to representation on the Council may result in a higher number. We urge that the arithmetic of a proportional approach be examined as part of the review.”
ACSeS also said the local government seats should be nominated by Lawyers in Local Government, the organisation that is due to be created in March through the association's merger with Solicitors in Local Government.
Kilner added: “It seems likely that a single body representing local government lawyers is likely to have a more cohesive relationship with other bodies within the local government family as well as the Law Society and the SRA.”
The submission said ACSeS took pride in Maria Memoli's election to the Law Society's management board, the first time a local government solicitor had been elected to this position in the Law Society.
“Maria has served on our own council body for several years providing a valuable two way communication process for matters of mutual interest,” it said.
“We are confident that she will continue to represent the interests of solicitors in local government and provide a valuable contribution to the work of the management board.”
George Curran, a past chair of SLG, is the second Law Society Council member representing local government.