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Michael Napier and the City are celebrating his election as president of the Law Society in London. Napier, a senior partner at Irwin Mitchell in Sheffield, received almost double the votes of his opponent, out-going president Robert Sayer. In what is believed to be the lowest ever turnout — less than one in five of those eligible voted — Napier secured 12,233 votes. Sayer managed 6,344. Tony Sacker, chair of City of London Law Society and partner at Kingsley Napley, says: “It is far less likely that the City will now seek a society separate to the Law Society to represent them with Napier’s election. “We are absolutely delighted.” Louise Delahunty partner at Peters & Peters and Law Society Council member says: “This should ensure that the city remains united with the Law Society.” President-elect Napier, who stood on a manifesto pledge to reform the Society says that he is elated with the result. Napier says: “It is a great privilege to be elected president of the Law Society at this challenging time.” “Solicitors play a vital role in helping people defend their rights and entitlements. I want to ensure that the Law Society encourages the highest standards of service to their clients. “I am determined to deliver a reformed Law Society to deal firmly with Government and others on the major issues that affect access to justice.” Sayer’s presidency had been dogged by the Kamlesh Bahl scandal and his personal conflict with the Society’s ruling Council. At a meeting earlier last month the majority of the Council urged Sayer not to stand for an unprecedented second term. One Council member says: “This is a great day for the Law Society and a sad indictment on Robert’s term of office. Hopefully we can now move forward to make sure that the Law Society reclaims its rightful place at the forefront of the legal profession.” Sacker adds: “It’s not only the fact that Napier has been elected, but also his huge majority indicates that the profession believes that he and David McIntosh are the right people to be at the helm.” Sayer had accused them of being inexperienced during the election campaign. Sacker points out that both Napier and McIntosh “have decades of experience between them in leading very large organizations”. He also said: “City lawyers want them to get their internal house in order as quickly as possible so that they can concentrate on representing and raising the profile of the solicitors’ profession.” However, he would encourage them to look again at the way the profession elects its president. He says: “I hope we can move away from this annual fraught election.” He believes that an election should occur annual for the post of deputy vice-president and then “unless they do something particularly awful, they should automatically progress to vice president and then president.” He cites former president Michael Mathews, Clifford Chance, as an example: “Michael had to spend months before he took office passing his client base to other partners and clearing the decks. It doesn’t make sense.” David McIntosh, senior partner at Davies Arnold Cooper in London, and Napier’s running mate has been elected vice president. He won 11,473 votes to Anthony Bogan’s 6,792. They will take office on this Thursday, July 13, at the Law Society’s AGM. Carolyn Kirby as deputy vice-president will join Napier and McIntosh. Kirby is currently chair of the Mental Health Review Tribunal for Wales.

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