President's Letter (July 2008)

On May Day, I attended the SBA’s Conference, one of their events to mark its 150th Anniversary at Lovells’ unbelievably palatial offices

The Conference was held in a wood-panelled lecture theatre, the opulence of which challenges the Millennium Centre – I was surprised that an ice-cream girl didn’t come around at the interval!

The afternoon consisted of presentations by the SBA, LawCare and the Solicitors Assistance Scheme. They demonstrated how they often work together providing different types of assistance. The examples and case studies that they gave were moving and actually quite horrifying, whether the problems were caused by illness, stress or disciplinary and criminal proceedings. I’m hoping in a future issue to have an article by Hilary Tilbury from LawCare that may include a particular case study of a solicitor who experienced many years of anguish and ill-health through criminal proceedings and disciplinary proceedings of which he was found totally innocent and vindicated but with a career and life left in ruins. One of the speakers for the Solicitors’ Assistance Scheme was Greg Treverton-Jones QC who now specialises in defence representation in disciplinary procedures. He originates from Newport and I was at University with him and I’m hoping that, through the Confederation perhaps, we will be able to set up some scheme with him whereby he could give immediate, initial assistance to anyone who has disciplinary issues.

Duncan Finlayson’s article in this issue gives details of how the Solicitors’ Assistance Scheme operates and can be contacted; both the SBA and Law Care have websites. Their existence is something that all members of the profession should be aware of.

I should like to thank all of you who attended Annual Dinner on the 25th April for the tremendous support that you gave to me and the Society and the great atmosphere created by the excellent turn-out.

Des Hudson, the Chief Executive of the Law Society, I think struck the right note in his speech with some humour but also getting over some important messages on behalf of the Law Society. Owen Money never fails to amuse and entertain and I was glad to see so many people on the dance floor. I hope you enjoyed the format of the evening but please let me know if you have any criticisms, constructive or otherwise!

It was my sad duty to attend the funeral of Ian Hermer who died suddenly in Spain at the end of April. I hope that his family will take some comfort from knowing the respect in which he was held by the local profession, shown by the goodly number of solicitors who attended.

I was delighted to have the opportunity, just six days before the end of my year of office, to attend the valedictory for his Honour Judge Philip Price QC at the Civil Justice Centre to mark his retirement and to speak on the Society’s behalf. It was particularly nice as I knew Philip very well when he was at the Bar having instructed him on many occasions. My already high estimation of him was greatly increased when he mentioned in his reply that he greatly enjoys my restaurant reviews in this magazine!

It is difficult to believe that already this is my last column written as President. It has been a wonderfully enjoyable year and I hope that I have contributed to what I feel is a period of growth in the activities of the Society and the interest of the local profession in the Society. It has been an honour and a privilege to serve as your President.

Richard Fisher, President

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