As the professional body for solicitors, every week the Law Society is working hard to influence the legal and regulatory environment on behalf of our profession and to promote solicitors at home and abroad. We support practice excellence, are an informed source of legal sector news and support members at every stage of their career.
Happy New Year and welcome back from the break.
Here are some highlights from this week.
Influencing on behalf of the profession and promoting the profession
The Law Society’s media profile this week:
Last Friday I was on BBC Woman’s Hour to discuss the 2019 centenary of women being able to qualify as solicitors. You can listen to the broadcast here. The interview starts at 00.40.
Internal emails and instant messages released under Freedom of Information laws reveal the fury inside the Ministry of Justice after Buzzfeed News was leaked a report on the impact of LASPO that the department had insisted didn’t exist. A Law Society spokesperson said: ““People will wonder why the MoJ chose at first not to disclose the full report. The research into unrepresented defendants contains important information...”.
Ireland’s prime minister has said his country is exploring how to take legal business from the UK after Brexit. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has in mind a partnership of the legal representative bodies to exploit the UK’s departure from the EU. The Gazette report quotes me.
This week the media relations team organised a series of interviews with solicitors on local radio to discuss ‘divorce day’ and answer common questions about the divorce process.
You can listen to Hannah Field on BBC Surrey and Sussex here. Hannah’s interview starts at 1.23:30.
Meanwhile Talvinder Penaser’s interview on Pulse 1 in West Yorkshire.
Christine McVay appeared on BBC Radio Newcastle. You can listen to the broadcast here. Christine’s interview starts from 1:26:00.
Both the Gazette and Legal Futures covered our new practice note for solicitors engaged in drawing up non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
Penny Scott, the chair of our Family Law Committee, appeared on BBC Radio Essex discussing a family law case in the county and the Law Society’s early advice campaign. Parts of this interview ran on the news bulletins throughout the day. You can listen to the broadcast here from 1.00:30.
While the EU committee’s Anna Bradshaw appeared on ITN talking about the Jack Shepherd case.
Jenny Beck, former chair of the Access to Justice committee was on Radio 5 Live to discuss McKenzie friends and the importance of family law solicitors. You can listen to the broadcast here from 2.52:30.
Legal aid provision in England and Wales is being slashed, as experts say people are being “denied justice.” Simon Davis, vice president of the Law Society, said: “Cuts to legal aid spending over the past five years have denied justice to the most vulnerable in society, placed a further burden on the taxpayer and damaged the foundation of our justice system.” A full report in The Daily Post. Also appears in Hull Daily Mail, Derby Telegraph, Evening Gazette and four other regional titles.
In a comment for the Gazette, former IP law committee chair Mark Anderson calls for reforms to IP law.
Joy Merriam, a member of the Law Society Access to Justice committee, was interviewed by BBC Radio Kent on the subject of 'Cliff's Law' – a proposed new law to stop police suspects being named by the media until they are proven guilty. You can listen to the broadcast here. Joy’s interview starts from 0:34:20.
Don’t forget you can read all Law Society press releases by clicking on this link. For live updates follow us on Twitter.
Consultation responses and parliamentary activity, influencing on behalf of the profession:
Access to Justice
On 18th December, Heads of Division published four jurisdictional documents on the judicial intranet in response to the ‘Judicial Ways of Working’ consultation. These are a highly critical assessment of the government’s proposals for court reforms and closures.
Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill
Before Christmas, the Courts and Tribunals (Judiciary and Functions of Staff) Bill received Royal Assent. The Bill will allow appropriately qualified and experienced court and tribunal staff to deal with routine matters.
It will allow the judiciary to be flexibly deployed across jurisdictions where they are most needed, allowing judges to gain experience of different types of cases.
The Law Commission has published a consultation on commonhold “Reinvigorating commonhold: the alternative to leasehold ownership”. This consultation makes provisional proposals to make commonhold work for homeowners, developers, mortgage lenders and across the wider property sector. The consultation is available here.
Draft CIL Regulation changes consultation
Shortly before Christmas, the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government published a technical consultation looking at proposed reforms to the system of developer contributions, primarily the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations 2010 (as amended) and section 106 planning obligations. The consultation is available here.
On Tuesday, I met with Justice Minister Lucy Frazer QC MP, to discuss law tech, the LASPO review, criminal justice and Brexit. Vice president, Simon Davis, attended a briefing on no deal preparations with Exiting the EU Minister Chris Heaton-Harris.
The chair of the mental health and disability law committee attended a roundtable with the shadow minister for mental health and disability on Monday. Members of this committee and the public affairs team also met with Alex Cunningham MP to discuss the Mental Capacity (Amendment) Bill.
Supporting members at every stage of their career
We've now published ‘Your professional body – the value of your membership’ aligned to the member offer. It clearly shows how we influence for impact and promote the profession. It also showcases the services we offer to support practice excellence, keep members up to date and act as a career companion. All new members will receive a copy in the post. A simple summary of our member offer is also available.
Changing career direction - options for flexible working
This event will be hosted by Adaptive, the flexible resourcing model from Simmons & Simmons. Adaptive was created to respond to the shifting legal landscape of Law, by providing clients with technically excellent first-rate lawyers, who are available to work on defined contract assignments and projects. The model is designed to strengthen client relationships by providing a commercial solution that meets both the needs of clients and the firm. This event has been designed in partnership with Adaptive and the Law Society, specifically for those who are interested in finding out more about how they can adopt a flexible working pattern and the benefits of doing so. As the legal marketplace evolves, clients are also actively seeking flexible resourcing solutions to meet the changing demands. The flexibility of working through a model like Adaptive, lets you keep control over when and how you work: you can choose your assignments in terms of work content and the defined periods you choose to undertake them.
JLD forum: Helping you to secure a training position
The Junior Lawyers Division is holding a free one-day skills event in partnership with the Merseyside JLD to assist LPC students and graduates with their search for a training position.
Supporting practice excellence
Some of our upcoming events are:
The Law Society’s Art Group exhibition
Between 8 and 18 January, the 59th annual exhibition of the Law Society's art group will be on display in the Reading Room. All the art is created by solicitors and shows a high standard of talent, from painting to three dimensional exhibits. All the art is for visitors to enjoy and purchase. If you have any enquiries about the exhibition, you can get in touch with Hazel Bate.
International Women’s Day
Join us on Friday 8 March for our flagship event to celebrate International Women’s Day 2019. The theme of the event is inspiration and action in the workplace. I will be leading a panel of distinguished speakers in a discussion about the outcomes of the research so far conducted as part of the Women in Leadership in Law project.
Online training: GDPR for Managers: An Introduction
In this course training is given on key aspects of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) data protection regime and first steps for compliance.
As always, please feel free to share this update with your constituents unless otherwise specified.
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