Controversial reforms to the make-up of the Law Society Council – including a reduction in the representation of local government – have been passed.
An all-member ballot was conducted on resolutions covering two issues:
- maximum term limits of 12 years for council members; and
- reorganisation of the constituencies represented by council members including changes to the geographical representation.
Both resolutions were approved with 83.3% of the vote for the constituency proposals and 77.2% of the vote for the term limit proposal.
However, just 12,207 (6%) of the 200,446 of eligible members voted.
On the changes to geographical constituencies, Law Society president David Greene said: “These both recognise the importance of geographical links between our members and their council representatives but also strive rightly to make Council more representative of the modern diverse profession.”
One of those who will be affected by the term limits, Greene said: “Clearly this may be disappointing news for those council members who have given long and loyal service representing their constituencies who will become ineligible to stand again.
“Whilst the effect of this decision will be that we will lose their knowledge and experience on council, there are many ways in which individuals can contribute to the work of the Law Society and we hope they will pursue those opportunities. It is important to remember, however, that term limits are commonplace among governing bodies.”
At present 23 members of council have served more than 12 years. They will be allowed to serve until the end of the current term.
Helen McGrath, LLG's Head of Public Affairs, said: "LLG are obviously disappointed at the loss of local government representation on the Law Society Council and very much hope that this will not lead to a marginalisation of the profession.
"We will continue to work proactively with the Law Society to raise awareness and representation of the important work our sector undertakes, and to contribute our expertise to governance in which we hold vast leading experience. We were pleased to note and supported the 12-year limitation on office holders to enable good practice. LLG would urge all local government solicitors to stand for vacancies on the numerous committees within the Law Society to ensure our profession retains a voice and influence. We have much to offer."