It is an honour and a great privilege to serve as President of the Incorporated Law Society for Cardiff and District.
Little did I think when I began my articles (there were no training contracts in those days) that one day colleagues would have the confidence to bestow on me this honour and responsibility.
I hope that I can live up to everyone’s expectations. Many distinguished lawyers have worn the badge of office – I hope that I can serve you as well as they have.
I would like to thank my predecessor, Stuart Hutton, for his hard work during his year of office. Stuart has served the profession, the Society and Cardiff with distinction. He brought his inimitable style to the office and that will not be forgotten.
NO HANGING ABOUT
My year has begun with a hive of activity. I attended the Annual Conference of Presidents and Secretaries of Local Law Societies in Chancery Lane a few weeks ago. I am glad to report that, despite claims of apathy and discontent amongst certain sectors of the profession, local Law Societies continue to flourish and provide a means by which practitioners can still communicate with their fellow professionals. In the day of impersonal emails, video and telephone conference calls and hearings, it was good to sit down and talk face to face with colleagues who are grappling with the same problems as we are.
I am pleased to tell you that practitioners in other parts of the country are very interested in developments in the legal landscape of Wales. At long last, the message of diverging legislation emanating from Cardiff Bay is beginning to dawn on practitioners outside Wales.
I am very grateful to Lowri Morgan and her colleagues at the Law Society office in Wales for all the hard work that they undertake, not only for practitioners in Cardiff, but for the profession as a whole.
In the next few years, when it may not be a pre-requisite for all solicitors to be members of the Law Society, we should not forget that to have a Law Society office at our doorsteps providing a range of services and facilities, is an enormous bonus and benefit.
In the last month, I and other members of our Society have attended very interesting talks and presentations. The Chairman of the SRA, Charles Plant, visited Cardiff recently and gave a very illuminating talk on the future regulation of the profession.
Paul Marsh, the Chairman of the Professional Indemnity Task Force, has also been to Cardiff with colleagues and told us about the forthcoming challenges in the renewal of our professional indemnity insurance. AON have visited us and given members an enormous insight into how practitioners should prepare for, and deal with, practice standard unit visits.
We have also hosted the third seminar by Wesleyan for Lawyers for practitioners on a whole host of benefits available to solicitors, ranging from finance for young solicitors to planning for retirement for older members.
I am grateful to AON and Wesleyan for their continued financial support for the Society and for their preparedness to deliver talks and seminars that are relevant to day-to-day practice.
PREMIER IS LAUNCHED
The Society has launched Premier Legal Recruitment, which I believe will not only prove to be a means generating income for the Society, but also provide a very useful benefit for practices who are members of the Society in recruiting professional and support staff.
I know that many of you have already registered with Premier and I hope that very soon you will reap the rewards from this joint venture.
The statement on legal aid unveiled the Government’s intention to close up to 103 Magistrates and 54 County Courts in order to rely more on the use of technology. Many of these are on our doorstep, including Barry Magistrates Court and Aberdare and Pontypool County Courts.
Introducing greater efficiency into the court system is, of course, a sensible thing to do. However, it is essential that clients should have proper access to the courts. It is essential, therefore, that all of us accept responsibility by studying the proposals carefully and contributing to the debate that, not only will affect our day-to-day life as practitioners, but more importantly, our client’s lives.
JACKSON ON COSTS
Some six months have now elapsed since Lord Justice Jackson published his final report. Many hoped that the intervening general election would have brought a shelving of his far reaching recommendations.
Whereas the Lord Chancellor and the Ministry of Justice have many priorities – increasing prisoner numbers to mention but one, do not assume that this tombstone of a report will simply gather dust.
The new Government has announced that they will now consult on some of the more controversial proposals – it is not too late, therefore, for all of us to try to influence the thinking on the changes to the existing costs rules and litigation funding. This may be our last chance, so act now.
In case you think the role of President is simply one of attending lectures and presentations, there have been several opportunities to meet colleagues in less formal surroundings.
I was pleased to welcome Council members and their spouses to a drinks reception at my home last week. We were fortunate that the sun did not put its hat on that day and we could spend some time in the garden.
On the garden theme, I was proud to wear the Society’s badge of office at another garden party last month. This was a far more formal occasion in the grounds of Buckingham Palace.
I attended the Annual Dinner of the Pontypridd & District Law Society and the Summer Ball of the Confederation of the South Wales Law Societies.
For the first time for many a year, the Society fielded a team on the cricket field against Swansea Law Society. Although we did not win, we did give a credible performance and a return match has been promised later this summer.
I also managed to combine several discussions with members of the Hong Kong Law Society with my role as Secretary of Crawshay’s Rugby Club during the Club’s recent annual summer tour to the Far East. It will not surprise you to learn that practitioners in Hong Kong face as many, if not more, problems and changes than those that confront us.
The Society has an interesting programme of events and functions planned for the autumn. I would urge you to look at our website as I am sure you will find something of relevance and, more importantly, of interest you and your practice.
DO GET IN TOUCH
As many of you prepare for your summer break, I would welcome your views and suggestions on how we can make our Society more relevant to practitioners and, in particular, to younger members of the profession.
Please feel free to write to me at 24 Park Place, Cardiff, or email me at email@example.com.
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Michael Walters - Administrator
Cardiff & District Law Society
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