President's Letter (October 2014)    

Several Past Presidents of the Society have warned me that my presidential year will “fly by”. I am already one-third of the way into my presidency. There have been many highlights already. However, there is still much to do….and hopefully more highlights to come!

One of my first acts as President was to write to Wynford Charles, bestowing upon him ‘Life Membership’ of the Society, in recognition for his 50 years in practice. I received a very nice letter in response, in which Wynford reminded me that he was the Society’s Treasurer for 17 years – a feat that itself is worthy of ‘Life Membership’ in my opinion.

Dedication to the legal profession has certainly been a theme during the initial months of my presidency. As well as honouring Wynford’s commitment to the profession, I have written to Frances Edwards, congratulating her on her recent appointment as President of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx). Frances is the first Welsh woman to be appointed President of CILEx, an achievement that is all the more commended by the fact that the CILEx South Wales Branch was re-launched just 10 years ago.

Monmouthshire Law Society has in recent years also been resurrected and my wife and I were delighted to be invited to that Society’s Annual Ball at the Celtic Manor. Congratulations to the Society’s President (Ashley Harkus) and his Committee for hosting a most enjoyable evening.

The success of Monmouthshire Law Society’s rejuvenation proves that there is a demand for local law societies, as indeed does the increased membership that Cardiff & District Law Society has experienced so far this year. More on that in the next issue!

Speaking of revivals, at the time of writing I have just returned from seeing Jeff Lynne’s E.L.O. (Electric Light Orchestra) headline Radio 2’s Festival in a Day at Hyde Park. After a 28 year absence from the UK concert stage (when I last saw them), they appeared totally rejuvenated and sounded better than ever.

While queuing with 49,999 other music fans to enter Hyde Park, I was amazed to discover that – quite by chance – a fellow Committee member from Reaching Justice Wales was standing in the queue immediately behind me, highlighting what a small world the legal community really is. For those that don’t already know, Reaching Justice Wales is a legal charity that aims to improve access to justice in Wales. Further information is available at www.reachingjusticewales.org.uk.

Access to justice is of course currently at the forefront of the National Law Society’s agenda, having recently launched an ‘Access to Justice Campaign’. Details can be found on The Law Society’s website: www.lawsociety.org.uk.

When attending the National Presidents and Secretaries Conference in Chancery Lane earlier this year, I was impressed by the amount of work that The Law Society undertakes (particularly behind the scenes) on behalf of the profession. David Dixon is of course Council member for the South Wales Constituency (having been re-elected to that role), which includes Cardiff & District and reports regularly on issues arising from Chancery Lane.

At a local level, David (until very recently) chaired the Wales Committee and I was honoured to be invited to observe David’s last meeting as Chair of that Committee. Again, the dedication of all who sit on the Wales Committee should be applauded.

With the Scottish independence vote having now been decided and the resultant talk of more devolved powers, there is likely to be a consequent effect for Wales and it is inevitable that the Wales Committee’s agenda will therefore be full for some time to come.

With this in mind (and with my ‘Education and Training’ hat on), the Society intends to organise a ‘suite’ of Member Forums early in 2015, which will be dedicated to Welsh Devolution issues from a legal perspective – starting with the basics. Further details will be advertised in due course.

The Society’s proposed ‘Managing Partners and Directors Dinner’ (referred to in the previous issue) is also provisionally scheduled to be held in early 2015. I am grateful to those who have already expressed an interest in attending and am encouraged that Managing Partners/Directors from a wide spectrum of local practices/organisations have recognised the potential benefits of this event. Please e-mail me (address below) to merely express an interest at this stage, as this will assist in gauging likely numbers (which may have to be limited) and a suitable venue.

The above event will hopefully encourage ‘engagement for the future’ (as referred to in the previous issue) and I am pleased that the Society has already experienced increased engagement with the in-house legal sector locally, having recently welcomed Andrew Cross (Legal Advisor, BMA Wales) onto Council.

This edition of Legal News pays fitting tribute to Simon Mumford. As stated in the previous issue, Simon was a great supporter of this Society and a Past President. Simon’s life was celebrated recently in a Memorial Service at Llandaff Cathedral, organised with military precision (literally) by Michael Walters. The warmth and regard that everyone present had for Simon was tangible and it was obvious that he was totally committed to his varied careers, including those of soldier, broadcaster and – of course – lawyer.

The Society is currently considering a way to honour Simon’s dedication to the legal profession and more information regarding this will follow in the next issue. In the meantime, I hope that everyone who knew ‘Mumf’ (and indeed those that didn’t) will take some comfort from this issue and even perhaps raise a smile when reading some of the anecdotes. It’s what he would have wanted!

 

Tom Danter
tomd@dolmans.co.uk

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