Our President

Our President


Written By: Philip Turton
Edition: July 2021

Dear Colleagues,

I hope you are all well and looking forward to the summer holiday as we start, cautiously and hopefully, to ease ourselves forward and out of the pandemic.  No-one knows what the future holds, but it is very hopeful to, once again, be going out, greeting others, seeing colleagues who have been absent from offices or our lives for some time.

I am pleased to be able to report that your Law Society (NLS) has recently engaged in a number of positive meetings with the officers and representatives of the national Law Society (TLS) in Chancery Lane, from which positive news has emerged.  Following the elevation of Stephanie Boyce to the Presidency of the TLS, a commitment to greater engagement with local Law Societies such as ours has been made evident, which is very welcome.  Those who attended our AGM in May will have heard the new Vice President of TLS, Lubna Shuja, speak of her admiration for the work we have been doing in Nottingham to engage with members, and of the Law Society’s wish to harness the power and drive of local Law Societies to bring about greater engagement with solicitors away from Chancery Lane.  Whilst neither Stephanie nor Lubna would suggest that these ambitions are new, there is a resolve now displayed which gives cause for optimism.

It may be recalled that in the last half of 2020, TLS’s regional representatives left their posts and a restructuring of constituency boundaries was undertaken which reduced regional representation.  Whilst at the time this caused some concern, it has become clear that those steps were part of an overall picture that is directed towards greater and more efficient connection with local solicitors, utilising the links that local Law Societies such as NLS provide.

In June an open meeting of all regional Law Societies was held with Stephanie, Lubna and Valeria Mancheva, the Director of Relationship Management at TLS.  A representative of each local Society was given a minute to talk about the single issue considered to be of most importance to their members.  There were recurring themes.  Professional indemnity insurance, engagement with young solicitors, engagement with Chancery Lane and Legal Aid Funding were all issues raised by different Law Societies around the country.  Furthermore, it was a positive experience to engage with officers of other Law Societies, hear about their problems and learn from their successes.  The overwhelming response to the meeting was positive and it has been resolved that they will take place regularly from now on.  This, in its own right, opens up a very useful line of communication, direct to the senior officers of TLS itself.

Further to that meeting, Stephen Luke, Janine Smith, Michelle Taylor and I then met with Valeria and Lubna to discuss regional engagement in more detail.  Shama Gupta, as TLS council member for Nottinghamshire, also attended and raised a number of issues touching upon the efficient and engagement of TLS Council.  TLS has identified, as a key strategy goal, positive and pro-active engagement with local Law Societies for the mutual benefit of common members, by engagement, accessibility, insight, collaboration and coordination.  To that end the Law Society has set out 7 commitments to local Law Societies, as follows:

1.

All Law Societies to be guaranteed a minimum of 2 engagements with a TLS office holder during the year.

2.

TLS to review and update the existing President’s email update currently sent to Law Societies to make it more targeted and relevant.

3.

Explore providing all Law Societies with a dedicated and private digital community group hosted within the TLS digital community platform.

4.

TLS to deliver an annual President’s and Secretary’s online conference.

5.

All Law Societies to have a named point of contact within the TLS Membership Engagement and Services Team, to whom they can reach out at any time.

6.

An annual engagement plan for each Law Society to facilitate access to TLS office holders and subject matter experts.

7.

TLS to review and improve the information provided to council members for local Law Society engagement.

These commitments are but a first step and what matters is the extent to which they are put into practice.   But the meeting was reassuring on that and it was plain to us that there is a real intention to honour these promises and bring NLS and other local Law Societies closer to TLS.  This benefits us both.  Greater engagement with TLS is of obvious benefit to both sides.  As a regional Law Society, we provide a conduit through which both can readily connect.  Certainly, those of us that were in the meeting came away with a positive impression of the desire of the current TLS leadership to deliver in this area.  True to the commitment, a President’s and Secretarys’ Conference is taking place on Friday of this week at which I will be speaking about the success we have enjoyed in Nottinghamshire in maintaining our activity during the pandemic.  It has become clear that we have led the way in relation to this and other regional Societies look to us as an example of what they might be doing for their members.  In Nottinghamshire we have maintained our programme and expanded it, whilst moving to new premises and adapting to new ways of bringing members together.  We have provided positive assistance to our local Courts in dealing with issues presented by the pandemic.  We have discovered that this has not been the norm – indeed some Law Societies effectively closed for the periods of lockdown.  That has never been our way, of course, and I am pleased that we have been able to continue providing value to our local members.

Thus, after some concerns last year the position concerning Chancery Lane looks very positive for regional Law Societies and I hope we are now looking to a period of greater engagement and commitment with the regional bodies, enabling solicitors to maintain better contact with their professional body.  If anyone has any queries or questions relating to this issue, any one of our officers would be glad to deal with them or discuss matters further.  Please contact our Head of Operations, Michelle Taylor, in the first instance (michelle.taylor@nottslawsoc.org)

I hope you all enjoy your summer.

Best wishes as ever,

Philip 

Philip Turton

President 2020-2021