President's Letter (August 2014)    

It is a great honour to be appointed President of Cardiff & District Law Society, joining a distinguished line of Presidents dating back to 1886, when the Society was founded.

As I write, the news of Simon Mumford’s passing is still raw. Simon will of course always be part of that illustrious line of Past Presidents. He was a great supporter of the Society and will be sorely missed. The next edition of Legal News will pay fitting tribute to ‘Mumf’.

I am sure that Simon – upon taking office – was asked the same question that I and every other President appears to have been asked: “What will be the theme of your Presidential year?”

I recently attended the National Presidents and Secretaries Conference in Chancery Lane. Being in Chancery Lane reminded me of the pride that I felt when attending my Admission Ceremony there, some twenty years ago. With the daily routine of our work and the pressures that have been put upon the profession (particularly in recent years), it is easy to forget that initial pride, which I am sure we all felt when entering the profession.

We should not underestimate the importance of our profession. As lawyers, we help to ensure order and form a vital link between society and the rule of law. Our profession remains one in which we can be proud. That is not to say that there are still battles to be fought and won. However, fighting those battles from a platform of pride and optimism is a much better foundation than the alternative.

Local law societies (such as ours) have a major impact on the National Law Society and the profession at large. The success of our Society and the profession is dependent upon our engagement with others, both as lawyers and as a Society.

We do of course already engage with our members, through our excellent range of membership benefits, our website and regular e-newsletters, through Members’ Forums and through social events, including our Annual Dinner. We engage with members through the Society’s various committees, including Regulation and Legal Aid. We also engage – through various committees - with the local judiciary. I recently attended the Civil Court Users Meeting in the Cardiff Civil Justice Centre, a report on which can be found elsewhere in this edition.

But, we need to engage further, to communicate more, to share ideas and learn from each other. The National Local Law Societies Conference (which was successfully held in Cardiff last year during Anne-Louise Ferguson’s term of office) demonstrated the benefits of engaging with other local law societies and sharing ideas.

As lawyers, we are often accused of being insular. By engaging with each other, we can share ideas for the common good of our businesses and the profession. I therefore propose that the Society hosts a ‘Managing Partners and Directors Dinner’ during the year and am grateful to all those who have already expressed an interest in this. If any Managing Partners or Directors would be interested in attending such an event, please e-mail me as soon as possible (address below), in order to gauge likely numbers and a suitable venue.

The in-house legal departments of several large organisations now have a local presence. Likewise, the public sector in Wales is incredibly important. We need to engage with these in-house lawyers. We must not forget the work undertaken by ‘not for profit’ organisations and the local teaching institutions, such as Cardiff Law School. We should remember that this is the Cardiff AND DISTRICT Law Society and I would like to see more engagement with those firms IN THE DISTRICT.

I am more than happy to discuss how the above organisations/in-house legal departments can become involved and benefit from the Society, whether by e-mail (address below) or telephone (on 029 20 345531).

We need to continue to engage with the younger members of our profession, particularly through the Junior Lawyers Division. It was pleasing to hear the Immediate Past President (Simon Cradick) say – at his Annual Dinner - that he would still encourage his children to enter the legal profession. Where appropriate, I would like to encourage family involvement in the Society’s events, so that they can share the benefits of our Society. Hopefully, we – as a Society - can encourage our children and grandchildren to view the profession with pride and to become the lawyers of the future.

With this in mind, the Society is considering a Christmas party for members’ children and grandchildren. Again, members are invited to contact me by e-mail (address below) to express an interest/numbers of children as soon as possible. As with all other events, these can only proceed if there is enough interest.

So, there it is – my theme for the year ahead: ‘Engaging for the Future – Maintaining Pride in the Profession’.

I pay tribute to Simon Cradick for the sterling work that he undertook so diligently during his term of office. I wish to thank all those (from a variety of local practices, chambers and other organisations) who give up their time freely for the benefit of the Society, not forgetting the Partners, Directors and others from those practices (in which I include my own), chambers and other organisations who have the foresight to recognise the importance of participation in their Local Law Society and encourage ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’.

The success of this Society is very much a team effort and I could not wish for a better team as I begin my Presidential year. n

 

Tom Danter
Tomd@dolmans.co.uk

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