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Law Society chief executive quits with dramatic blast at Chancery Lane

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Ouch

catherine-dixon

The chief executive of the Law Society has resigned in explosive fashion.

Rather than go quietly, Catherine Dixon has penned a letter that takes aim at the Law Society’s Council, a group of nearly 100 solicitors elected every four years who represent the profession’s geographic and special interest groups.

Dixon seems, to put it mildly, rather frustrated with these people and the way of working they embody.

In her letter, re-published in full below, she states:

It is impossible, as an effective Chief Executive Officer, to navigate the complex and often overlapping boards, (and sometimes committees), in a way which best serves the organisation and its members.

She then draws attention to views previously elicited from Council members themselves about the Law Society:

When asked to describe the Law Society, you chose the words moribund, old fashioned and bureaucratic, (to name a few), and wanted (as I do), for the organisation to be less bureaucratic and more responsive and agile.

Yet, continues Dixon, “when Council was given the opportunity to bring about a change as to how the organisation is governed, regrettably from my perspective, it chose to vote against and/or delay such change”.

The Law Society is facing pressure amid proposals to overhaul the regulation of lawyers. Indeed, a Solicitors Regulation Authority-backed plan by the Legal Services Board to create a single law regulator, without links to professional representative bodies, could call into question the Law Society’s continuing relevance.

Against a backdrop like this, Dixon had expected the Council turkeys to begin voting for Christmas. And their failure to do this means she’s off — with this ominous warning about the future:

If the external environment was not so hostile, the Law Society could take its time to review its governance and make any changes at its own pace. However, the organisation does not have this luxury. Others are intent on harming it and the profession it serves.

Dixon joined the Law Society as chief executive in 2015 from the NHS Litigation Authority, where she had held the same role. The Leeds Beckett University law graduate has also worked for the NSPCC and Bupa.

In a statement, Law Society president Robert Bourns thanked Dixon for her “tireless and effective work” and added that her comments on the pace of the governance review had been noted.

Catherine Dixon’s resignation letter in full: