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The chief executive of the Law Society, the professional body for solicitors in England and Wales, has resigned over a lack of progress in attempts to reform its governance.
In a letter to the Law Society’s governing council, Catherine Dixon said that she “cannot in good faith continue to be CEO of an organization which is not prepared to change.”
The Law Society began a review of its governance in early 2016. An initial report, published in May, proposed trimming its 100-strong council and limiting terms for the elected positions to six years. It also recommended that a smaller main board be established to handle most governance decisions.
But the Law Society’s council recently voted against limiting terms and decided not to begin implementing a new main board until council seats have been reviewed, resulting in further delays.
Dixon, who last month was appointed to a panel of experts to help advise the Mayor of London on Brexit, said in her letter that she wanted the organization to be “less bureaucratic” and that it “’cannot operate in a responsive and agile way” without reform.
The Law Society is under threat following proposals to radically overhaul the regulation of lawyers in England and Wales. The Legal Services Board, which oversees the regulation of lawyers in the two countries, unveiled plans in September to create a single legal services regulator and cut all links between regulators and representative bodies such as the Law society. The move is supported by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
“If the external environment was not so hostile, the Law Society could take its time to review its governance and make any changes at its own pace. However, the organization does not have this luxury,” Dixon added in her letter of resignation. “Others are intent on harming it and the profession it serves. We should not give them any ability to be critical of us – and yet we have, as our failure to change means that we don’t have the right governance arrangements to enable us to effectively respond to this hostile environment, leaving us vulnerable at this critical time.”
Law Society president Robert Bourns said in a statement that the organization is “extremely grateful” for Dixon’s “tireless and effective work” as CEO, and that he noted her comments on the pace of the governance review. “It is important that we press on with changes in order to take the organization and the profession forward,” he added. “I aim to use the rest of my presidency to help drive the next stage of the review and propose further changes.”
British EU Ambassador Quits, Attacks Government’s Brexit Preparations
Britain’s ambassador to the European Union has attacked the government’s Brexit preparations following his shock resignation on Tuesday.
In a letter to colleagues announcing his surprise departure, which was leaked to The Times, Sir Ivan Rogers warned of “ill-founded arguments and muddled thinking” and said that “serious multilateral negotiating experience is in short supply.”
Rogers was one of the government’s most experienced EU negotiators and would have played a key role in Brexit talks. His exit has led to renewed claims that the government is not willing to accept difficult advice on Brexit. Rogers previously warned the government that it may take 10 years for the U.K. to finalize a new trade agreement with the EU, and that any deal could then still ultimately be rejected by the other 27 member nations.
It marks the second resignation of a senior British EU official since the Brexit vote, after Jonathan Hill quit as the U.K.’s European commissioner in June.