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The Mayor of London’s decision to not appoint an active legal professional to a new business advisory body has been met with disappointment by the legal community.

Boris Johnson’s (pictured) International Business Advisory Council for London (IBAC London) features business leaders from The Coca-Cola Company, British Airways and Adidas but has no practising lawyers.

The 47-strong group will advise the Mayor on developing ideas and initiatives on improving the capital as a place to live and work.

Vincent Keavney, a securitisation partner at Baker & McKenzie, commented: “It is disappointing given the importance of the legal industry to the City not to have an active solicitor on the board. The profession is a huge exporter in national terms and for London in particular and I do not think that can be ignored.”

Microsoft’s head of UK legal Dervish Tayyip claimed that the decision not to bring a lawyer onto the council represented a missed opportunity.

He said: “They still have the option of going to external counsel for advice, but they have missed a chance to tap into the broader experience a lawyer could bring. Unless someone on the council has a legal background but does not practice, they may well be missing a trick.”

Nayeem Syed, general counsel of entertainment company Eros International, claimed that the traditional advisory role of a lawyer made them ideal candidates for such groups.

“It is very important in these kind of ventures to have a diverse range of opinions,” he said. “Lawyers are known advisers and can bring the ability to be concise and to be able to understand, analyse and give real advice.”

IBAC London will be chaired by WPP chief executive Sir Martin Sorrell, with the inaugural meeting on 5 October.

On the group’s lack of legal representation, Sorrell commented: “We agree, there should be. Membership of the Council is not finalised yet. We plan to invite further distinguished individuals from a wide variety of professions.”

Should the legal profession have been given a voice in this group? Click here to have your say.

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