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The Council of London’s Law Society has voted to take steps to combat its “dysfunctional” image. A consultation paper will elicit the views of the profession on matters such as whether there should be more lay involvement at the Law Society. But some members claim it will make the Society a “laughing stock”. It will also ask whether the number of people elected to the Council should be increased from 75 to 120, and whether it should adopt a new “cabinet” system of government. The Society’s new chief executive, Janet Paraskeva believes that reform is essential for it to act as an effective business. Responding to a report on its image earlier this summer, Barbara Cahalane, director of communications says: “We accept that we are seen as being out-of-touch and irrelevant to solicitors and we hope that the reform process that we need to go through will change this.” Angus Andrew, an executive committee member says: “We delude ourselves if we believe that our profession hold us in high regard. They realize that like the House of Windsor, we are a dysfunctional organization.” However, many council members believe that the way reform is being planned is bad for the Society and will humiliate it in front of the profession. Simon Mumford says: “This consultation is not balanced and is completely biased. It’s an abuse of the consultative process and will make us a laughing stock.” Denis Cameron added: “We were promised a balanced and unbiased consultation paper -� and we have not got it. The only person who could assure us that this is not biased is Slobodan Milosevic’s campaign manager.” And Sue Nelson warned that the proposed reforms ignored the real issues of the failure of the Society to work with its staff and stakeholders. She says: “It reminds me of the way the Met is dealing with institutional racism. It makes grand gestures but doesn’t deal with the route of the problem.” The consultation process, which begins tomorrow, has been two-years in the making. But former president, Robert Sayer, believes that the profession is being presented with a poor offering. He warns: “This report is absolutely useless. Those involved in this have clearly tried and failed. The Law Society will ignore the views and needs of the profession at its peril.”

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