People & Business: Sir Dennis's brief advice

BATTERED AND bruised by accusations of fat-cattery and ambulance chasing, the embattled Law Society has found a saviour in the form of Sir Dennis Stevenson, the chairman of Pearson and all-round Government troubleshooter.

Lawyers may not be the most popular people at the moment, enjoying a status almost as low as journalists in the public mind. Yet the Law Society's reputation is even more wretched, in that most of the big City firms have lost patience with it over professional indemnity insurance and the like.

So serious has the position become that Jane Betts, the Society's secretary general, felt compelled to call in Sir Dennis to come up with a solution.

Thus it was that a fortnight ago Sir Dennis addressed the council of the Society at a top secret "awayday" meeting. His advice was succinct: out should go the fat bureaucracy (the Society has around 140 committees and sub-committees) and in should come a dynamic chairman backed by a small executive committee.

Sir Dennis also urged the Society to scrap the frequent meetings of its 75-strong council, which are required to rubber-stamp the Society's actions. Instead the Society should model itself on a successful law firm or company.

This is just the latest bit of "firefighting" Sir Dennis has been up to. He was famously parachuted into GPA, the aircraft leasing business that nearly went belly up in the recession. He is particularly interested in IT and education and personally advises Tony Blair on these issues.

Mind you, colleagues of Sir Dennis are at pains to stress that he is no mere "Labour luvvie". He once worked for Peter Walker (now Baron Walker of Worcester) when the latter was a Conservative minister. On the other hand, a notorious "wet" like Mr Walker would be considered far too dangerously left wing for Mr Blair's cabinet.

LOVELY PEOPLE, lawyers. Susan Midha of Manches & Co, a City law firm, is advising betrothed couples to put a Last Will and Testament among the toasters, linen and glassware on their wedding lists.

Ms Midha, personal estate planning partner, says: "Although putting a Will on your wedding list can look a little morbid, we thinks it is an essential element for newlyweds in planning their future personal and financial affairs."

Taking this idea to its logical conclusion, perhaps Manches should link up with some undertakers and offer a one-stop funeral service...

SURFING THROUGH one of my favourite accountancy websites ("AccountingWeb"), as one does, I noticed this fable about the vagaries of VAT. It concerns a VAT-registered baker who makes a tiered wedding cake.

If the bride's mother collects it from the shop the cake becomes "zero- rated" for VAT purposes. If the bride's mother hasn't time to attend to this and asks the baker to deliver it and set it up at the reception, the same cake becomes standard-rated.

Now, if the baker forgot to put the little bride-and-groom model on top, so the bride's mother buys the models from the baker where the cake was made, the cake reverts to being standard-rated.

Had the baker not forgotten the models they would have been - you've guessed it - zero-rated. An exciting subject, VAT, I think you'll agree.

A BOOK that promises to advise you on "the best way to conduct an office romance, cope with redundancy, ring in sick and even how to handle those embarrassing moments in the lift" has just emerged from the word processor of Neasa MacErlean, price pounds 9.95. Being a reporter on the Observer, I'm sure she's got plenty of first-hand experience to draw on...

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
Life and Style
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
Javier Mascherano of Argentina tackles Arjen Robben of the Netherlands as he attempts a shot
world cup 2014
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

£75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Directory, ITIL, Reuter)

£35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst (Windows, Active Dire...

Network Engineer (CCNA, CCNP, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

£40000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNA, CCNP, Linux, OSPF,...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice