Posted 1.10.17

CDLS President's Report: October 2017

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Before I took over the Presidency I was asked by someone why I wanted to do it.  A good question and it gave me pause for thought.  As a corporate lawyer I had managed for the past 20 plus years to get by without any real engagement with The Law Society and I'm sorry to say that the existence of Cardiff and District Law Society had largely escaped my attention (except for those nifty membership cards that give you discounts). To be honest, apart from reasons such as improving the profile of my firm amongst prospective employees, I was curious more than anything when I first agreed to participate.

However, as I got more involved I came to realise that local law societies have an exceedingly important role to play in building legal communities across England and Wales.  As a Society, we represent a varied and diverse membership.  Small firms and sole practitioners from whatever area of practice can find a voice and a means to influence policy. Even the largest firms wield greater power when they collaborate than they could ever hope to do on their own. Our regulatory committee for instance has recently responded to consultations on the SQE, changes to the Code of Conduct, the SRA Accounts Rules and the new AML regulations to name a few. Our members have actively campaigned on issues such as access to justice, court closures and criminal legal aid tendering. Multiply these efforts across the whole of England and Wales and you can see how much stronger we are when we come together. Of course we aren't listened to all of the time but sometimes important changes do get made as a result of consistent messaging across the board.  As a profession, if we don't make our views known and challenge what we see as the risks to us, our clients and the profession then frankly we forfeit any right to complain afterwards.

There is much going on in Wales at present. From Brexit to the recently announced Commission on Justice in Wales and the Wales Act 2017, there will be much to debate.  We need those debates to take place in a calm and considered way without the emotion and reactionism that polarises arguments. Whatever the outcome on many fronts, as a profession, as a business community and as a society, we need certainty. As a key stakeholder and contributor to the Welsh economy, the legal profession has much to offer those debates and we should engage and contribute.  Otherwise it will simply be down to those who shout the loudest to decide.

On a more domestic note, our challenge remains to ensure that Cardiff and District Law Society continues to be seen to be relevant to the firms and individuals within our geographical area and our Council and committee is working hard to ensure this is the case.  We are just about to release our programme of events for the next six months or so and I hope there will be something for everyone from talks on GDPR, a workshop on growing your business, networking events to social events and the ever popular children's Christmas party (with the real Santa Claus of course) plus more.  Please look out for our newsletters and come to something if it interests you. It is not always that easy to find venues in the City centre to host our events so if your firm has a room that you could make available for seminars and workshops please do let us know as that kind of support from our corporate members is invaluable.

One of the perks of being President is that I get to choose a charity that CDLS supports through its events for the year. My choice for this year is Ronald McDonald House in Cardiff. The House, which has just opened, is close to Noah's Ark Children's Hospital and provides free accommodation for 30 families enabling them to stay close to their children whilst they are in hospital.  Having had the benefit of using another Ronald McDonald House when my daughter was a baby I know from first-hand experience how much of a godsend it can be.  There will be the opportunity to raise money at several of the events we have planned over the course of the year and I hope that you will have the chance to find out more from people at the House itself. It is a very worthwhile cause and I hope to be able to hand over a sizable cheque at the end of the year!

Rachelle Sellek, CDLS President

02 October 2017

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