Chancery Lane pledges to raise in-house game

Legal week - Thursday 18th May 2006

Law Society president Kevin Martin has said the body is to rethink how it represents corporate counsel as part of a fundamental review of its representative function.

Speaking at a set piece debate on the representation of in-house lawyers at the Legal Week Corporate Counsel Forum in Paris last week, Martin admitted the Law Society needed to do more to represent in-house lawyers, who now account for 20% of solicitors in England and Wales.

Martin told delegates: "We have some work to do on our long-term strategy in the representation of in-house lawyers. While what we do provides a valuable service, we know we could do more."

Martin said the body would be reviewing the scope of its work with in-house lawyers when it concludes the four-month ‘Have Your Say Consultation’, which canvassed the views of 19,000 members on a variety of topics, including its representative function.

The Law Society currently provides financial and personnel support to the Commerce & Industry (C&I) Group, the UK’s main body for in-house lawyers, which also has two representatives who sit on the Law Society council.

The debate also featured presentations from representatives of the Association of Corporate Counsel Europe, the European Company Lawyers Association and the International Bar Association, as well as Anthony Armitage, chair of the In-House Lawyers’ Association, the breakaway group set up in 2004.

Armitage told Legal Week: "I have never seen any evidence that [the Law Society] treats in-house as a priority. It has always been predominantly private practice and the only way they represent in-house lawyers is through the C&I Group."

The Legal Week Corporate Counsel Forum was attended by more than 100 corporate counsel and was co-chaired by General Electric general counsel Brackett Denniston and BHP Billiton general counsel John Fast.

Author: Ed Thornton
Source: Legal Week