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Law Society July 2017 Council Meeting Summary

Law Society Council meeting summary: 5 and 6 July 2017

Council report

Council met for the last meeting of the 2016-17 ‘season’, with a full agenda, and this was followed by the Annual General Meeting of the Law Society. This marked the customary accession of the new office holder team, led by Joe Egan as President, and the formal election of a number of new Council members. You can find the full list of Council members here: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/about-us/our-council/council-constituencies/.

Changes to governance for 2018

January 2018 is planned to see the roll-out of the first phase of new governance arrangements agreed by Council. The governance review has been under way for some time, and the implementation of the initial set of changes has now been agreed. The new Main Board, intended to facilitate efficient and agile decision making, will meet at least every two months. Feeding in to this Board will be one board covering policy and regulation and another covering membership and operations. Chairs of these boards will sit on the Main Board.

The specialist committees who bring their expert advice and perspective to the policy work of the society will report to the policy and regulation board. Work is also under way by the Council Membership Committee to look at the representativeness of Council, and recommendations will come to Council in due course.

Law Society – planning and finance

Financial plans for next year are based on a further reduction in the practicing certificate fee, reflecting the Society’s continuing drive to secure value for money for its members.

As part of the business planning process for next year and beyond, a fresh look is being taken at the purpose of the Society and its objectives and culture. This will come together in plans for our next financial and business year which begins in November.

The Law Society Group’s Annual Report and Accounts for the previous year were also presented. You can find them on our website, along with our annual business review which highlights our work last year to represent, promote and support our members: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/about-us/annual-report/.

Praise for unsung pro bono

Council discussed the great work done by Law Society members to support victims of London Bridge, Finsbury Park and Manchester atrocities and the Grenfell Tower disaster. The Law Society has worked behind the scenes to help connect solicitors offering pro bono help with clients in desperate need.

SQE – representing our views

SQE was also discussed, with the Society preparing its response to the latest SRA consultation which is due to close this month. We will flag the need for rigour and clarity in the definition of “degree equivalent” as we want no drop in standards, especially in light of Brexit and the need to retain the global standing of the profession.

Brexit action

The Society has been working hard to help government as negotiations begin and ensure that issues including mutual recognition and access rights are central to discussion. These were set out in our manifesto for justice and have shaped dialogue with government.  We have also been working with other European bars to protect our mutual interests as the process moves on. The Society has a dedicated web page on its work to support the profession and the reputation of England and Wales as a global legal centre: http://www.lawsociety.org.uk/policy-campaigns/campaigns/global-legal-centre/

Greater diversity

Council discussed diversity in the profession and noted the work done by the Society to help increase this at all levels. This includes our Diversity and Inclusion charter for firms, as well as our social mobility ambassadors, showcasing people who have come to the profession from non traditional backgrounds and our Divisions for women, ethnic minority and LGBT lawyers and lawyers with disabilities. The Society will continue to focus on activities to support career progression and wellbeing for under represented groups and help firms tackle these issues.

Changes to the Gazette

Council welcomed the new approach of the Gazette in featuring the outcomes of Council meetings and giving more visibility to the outputs from the Society’s expert committees.