Part 1 Summary of Council meeting 17 January 2023
Council was pleased to be able to meet in person again in the Council Chamber at Chancery Lane, and will do so again for the annual Strategic Planning Event on 23 February 2023. The President, Lubna Shuja, had been invited to given evidence to the Justice Select Committee in the afternoon and so part of the meeting was chaired by the Vice President, Nick Emmerson.
Also annexed for reference are the Part 1 (public) minutes from the12 December Council meeting and the Part 1 papers from the January meeting. This summary and those documents may be shared with constituents and others interested in the work of the Society.
Ian Jeffery, the Chief Executive, presented a report. The key points were:
1. Overall, the 4th quarter demonstrated good progress. The Society has continued to enhance its profile in several areas, both in its public campaigning role and in its communication to members.
2. Q4 was the last quarter under the Society’s previous Corporate Plan and a new Strategy and Corporate Plan had been agreed during Q4. Reflecting on the success of the previous plan had indicated a number of ways in which performance should be guided by the new Corporate Plan and Business Plan.
3. The annual member survey ran online to the end of October 2022 with 1,500 full responses. A workshop would be held with the Leadership Team to explore key findings, analysis, and our use of results to drive value for the profession.
4. The Society achieved significant results during Q4, on matters relating to costs assessment in legal aid cases (R (On behalf of the Law Society) v Legal Aid Agency) and the extent of pre-retainer duties owed (Cam Legal v Belsner). The Society was also considering the possibility of legal action against the Ministry of Justice in relation to the Criminal Legal Aid Review.
Council approved a process for making the following appointments which would arise during 2023:
3. Two solicitor members of the Board who are not members of the Society’s Council
4. Two non-solicitor members of the Board.
Through the Society’s recruitment partner Green Park we have now opened applications for the Audit Committee member (see here) and Board Chair (see here) roles. Details of the vacancies can also be found on Green Park’s website.
The independent Board member roles will open for applications shortly and we will share links for those in due course.
Council discussed the SQE and noted that research had been commissioned by the SRA into the differential attainment of ethnic minority candidates. Members heard anecdotal evidence of the difficulties candidates were encountering in entering for the examinations and concern was expressed at the effect on their mental health of studying whilst working in a law firm. Members were encouraged to share their concerns with the Junior Lawyer (0-6 PQE) Council members or with the Junior Solicitors Network (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The next meeting of the Law Society Council will be held on 23 February 2023, when Council members and others will take part in a Strategic Planning Event to shape more closely the Society’s strategic objectives for the 2023-2024 business and financial year. The next ordinary business meeting will be the Q1 meeting of Council on 29 March. For any information or queries about Council matters, the Law Society’s governance team can be contacted on email@example.com.