Law Society chief executive Des Hudson has today (14 March) announced he is retiring in July after the society’s annual general meeting, just days after members of the profession called for both Hudson and current Law Society president Nicholas Fluck to resign.
Hudson joined the Law Society as chief executive in September 2006. He has led numerous high-profile campaigns, including the introduction of initiatives such as the Law Society’s conveyancing quality scheme; risk and compliance service; and the wills and inheritance quality scheme.
On his departure, Hudson said: ‘A year ago I took the decision to retire in 2014. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to serve the Law Society during this time of change for the legal profession and I look forward to continuing to do so until I depart.’
However, during his time at Chancery Lane there has been mounting tension within the profession over his and Fluck’s ability to represent publicly funded solicitors in negotiations with the Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling on legal aid.
The issue came to a head at a special general meeting (SGM) in December, where members narrowly voted through a motion of no confidence against Hudson and Fluck – a vote brought about after Liverpool-based criminal lawyer James Parry of Parry Welch Lacey Solicitors published an open letter to Hudson in late October informing him that he had acquired sufficient signatures to demand an SGM of the Law Society.
Parry sparked further controversy last week by publishing a second open letter stating that Hudson and Fluck were ‘not fit and proper persons’ to hold office.
Hudson’s pay package has also been criticised. However, the most recent figures from the society’s 2012/13 annual report shows that Hudson took a 10% pay reduction from £376,000 to £340,000 in 2012.
Fluck said: ‘Des has delivered an outstanding service to the Law Society and has been a powerful advocate for the solicitors’ profession for eight years. He will be a tough act to follow. He has transformed the organisation during his tenure and provided a powerful and influential voice for our members. His contribution will benefit the society and our profession for many years to come.’
The Law Society added: ‘Under his leadership, the society has developed to become an internationally renowned organisation that supports and represents its members around the world.’
‘Hudson has strengthened the society by streamlining its management structure, introducing new technology and communication platforms, reforming pay and pension arrangements and boosting revenues generated from commercial activity to invest in member services.’