Controversial plea from the ex-chairwoman of Bar Standards Board is bound agitate current barrister and solicitor leaders
Legal executives should lead a “rebellion” against the last government’s legal aid cuts as well as compete with barristers for top judicial posts — implored the former chief bar regulator yesterday.
In a speech that will ruffle feathers at the Bar Council and the Law Society, Lady Deech — who was chairwoman of the Bar Standards Board for six years until the beginning of 2015 — told legal executives that they are “at the cutting edge” of the a multifaceted profession.
Deech — an academic, who read law at St Anne’s College, Oxford — called on legal executives to challenge the two traditional branches of the legal profession for top slots on the bench.
“If chartered legal executives continue the progress they have so strikingly made in the last decades,” she told a meeting of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx), “you may be the ones rising to the judiciary and keeping it representative of the population.”
A leading barrister member of the bench backed Deech’s views. High Court judge Nicola Davies called on legal executives to apply for judicial appointments:
“I would like to offer my thanks to CILEx for the work they have done in supporting the judiciary in … our quest for greater diversity. CILEx has been a real force for good …”
Deech went on to tell the legal executives that they “are at the cutting edge of an ancient and proud profession”. The former regulator cited CILEx’s emphasis on diversity as crucial.
“You represent social mobility because of your different backgrounds and non-traditional entries into the profession,” she said. “All of this diversity amounts to the raising of the flag of rebellion to the Lord Chancellor. His cuts might have had the effect of deterring many graduates from taking on family and criminal work, because there is no legal aid and no way to earn a modest living in order to pay off their student debt.”