The leader of Britain's 120,000 solicitors is at the centre of a salary row after it emerged that his paypacket has leapt to almost £400,000, almost three times the Prime Minister's earnings.
Desmond Hudson, the chief executive of the Law Society of England and Wales, has seen his basic salary increase over the past two years by more than 40 per cent, at a time when legal aid for family lawyers is to be removed and many high street solicitors' firms are battling to stay afloat.
Law Society staff responded angrily to publication of the details of his pay packet in The Lawyer magazine. 'This is a disgrace, shameful," said one commentor, claiming to be a Law Society staffer on the legal sector online forum of The Lawyer. "The staff have had no pay rise in many years as we have been told we have to tighten our belts... How can he look his staff in the face?" Another said: "I don't know how Des Hudson has the gall to stand up in front of his staff after this shameful display of greed."
The 185-year-old organisation has a chequered past and even in recent years its Chancery Lane, London, headquarters has witnessed bitter rivalries and power struggles between senior staff.
At the beginning of the decade the society was plunged into crisis when its first female vicepresident was acused of bullying, leading to a £1m employment tribunal. There have also been allegations of profligacy surrounding the grace and favour central London apartment and wine cellar once enjoyed by the president of the society. In recent years it has enjoyed a period of relative stability, which some have credited to its well-paid chief executive. A spokesman for the society said that it was "undergoing a staff pay review for 2011" and all employees had been "invited to express their views".Reuse content