The director general of the Law Society Ken Murphy has defended the pay of more than €2,000 per week to the society’s elected president.
Accounts published by the cash-rich Law Society confirm that its president received €110,000 in 2013 for the part-time post.
It was paid out under the heading of ‘President’s subvention’ follows a €110,000 payout in 2012.
Mr Murphy said yesterday the pay was ‘justified’.
He said: “Of course the payment is justified. The president receives the payment commensurate with the significant amount of time and work commitment required for the role. The formula for calculating the level of payment was decided by the members at a general meeting in 1996.”
Ennis-based partner in Michael Houlihan & Partners, John Shaw was succeeded as president of the Law Society by Blackrock-based Kevin O’Higgins earlier this month.
In an interview during his one year stint in office, Mr Shaw defended the €110,000 payment.
“I don’t see how you could do it without it. We are using resources internally at the firm here to cope. I will be here for three days a week and sometimes it could work out less, so how do you explain to any partnership that you are going to drop out income in excess of that for one year and you are not going to be compensated at all for it. It is a huge ask for anyone to do it.”
“Does it fully compensate? I won’t know until the end of the year but I don’t think it will. It is not in any way excessive when you look at the rationale behind it, it is fully explained,” he said.
Separate figures released by the Law Society show that the number of practising female solicitors will soon outnumber their male counterparts.
According to Mr Murphy, there are 4,533 females with practising certificate — only three behind the 4,536 males with certificates.
“The gender balance of the entire solicitors’ profession is roughly 50/50. But we expect, given the large numbers of women joining the profession each year, that women will outnumber their male colleagues very soon. This will be a first for the solicitors’ profession in Ireland and, to our knowledge, the world,” he said.
“Gender diversity isn’t the only way that the solicitors’ profession is more inclusive than ever before. The number of foreign solicitors is also increasing: 14% of new solicitors at the Society’s Law School were lawyers transferring from other countries.”
The 2013 accounts for the Law Society show that it recorded a drop in operating surplus from €2.988m to €2.62m as revenues decreased from €22.68m to €22.13m.
The Law Society had a cash pile of €11.57m at the end of December last with accumulated reserves of €25.17m.
The largest proportion of income comes from solicitors’ fees and subscriptions that totalled €11.9m last year.
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