Legal Business Blogs

‘Old fashioned and bureaucratic’: Law Society chief exec Dixon resigns over lack of governance reform

The chief executive of the Law Society Catherine Dixon resigned last night (3 January) citing a lack of governance reform in the group’s council.

In a letter to the 100 members of the council, Dixon (pictured) said the Law Society cannot ‘operate in a responsive and agile way’.

The council recently voted against term limits for members, a move which Dixon argued would have helped involve more members of the legal profession.

Dixon said: ‘I cannot in good conscience continue to act as the CEO of an organisation when I do not support the decision by council not to rigorously pursue governance reform in what I believe is in the best interests of the profession and the organisation.’

She added there were serious issues with overlapping boards and committees in the body. Dixon said: ‘When asked to describe the Law Society, you [the council] chose the words moribund, old fashioned and bureaucratic.’

The Law Society had been undergoing an internal review of its governance throughout 2016.

Law Society president Robert Bourns said in a statement: ‘I note Catherine’s comments on the pace of the governance review. It is important that we press on with changes in order to take the organisation and the profession forward.’

The Law Society is currently facing major challenges to its future role as the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and the Legal Services Board both support plans to split the society and the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

In November last year, the MoJ told Legal Business: ‘We intend to consult in due course on making regulators independent from their representative bodies.’

Dixon was appointed as Law Society president in August 2014 having previously been head of the NHS Litigation Authority. She was recently appointed to a panel of experts for the Mayor of London Sadiq Khan to advise on upcoming Brexit negotiations.

Read more: ‘Taxation without representation – would you pay for the Law Society to represent you?’

Read more: ‘Comment: Why it’s time for the Law Society’s levy to go’