Law Society Council Meeting Report 14/10/20
The Law Society held it AGM on the 14th October when the new President David Greene
took office along with the other office holder so for this year, Stephanie Boyce Vice President
and Lubna Shuja Deputy Vice President.
Proposals for the reform of council by introducing 12-year term limits and a changed
constituency system were voted on, which being the first-ever online AGM was a challenge, especially when over 200 people joined the meeting. The proposals were approved by
, especially when over 200 people joined the meeting. The proposals were approved by
members attending the AGM. Following the votes, the AGM voted to put both matters to a
ballot of all members. All members who might wish to participate should ensure that they are
opted-in to TLS emails and that their registered email address is up to date.
For more information go to https:// www.lawsociety.org.uk/topics/news-articles/right-to-vote-on-
The last regular council meeting was held in the morning of the 14th October before the
AGM. A brief report of that meeting is below.
This was Simon Davis’ last Council meeting as president of the Law Society and warm
tribute was paid to him for his leadership in what had been very difficult times.
A diverse profession
A profession representative of the society we serve has long been a priority at Chancery Lane
– a goal the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has brought into even sharper focus in
At the latest Law Society Council meeting (14 October), representatives of the profession
were updated on our work in this area including research into the career experiences of black,
Asian and ethnic minority (BAME) members of the legal profession which we began in late
The project came about as a result of discussions with our Ethnic Minority Lawyers Division
(EMLD) and aims to investigate progress made over the last decade and uncover new issues.
The findings will promote understanding of the challenges faced by BAME solicitors and
provide an evidence base to underpin strategies and member-facing support.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) announced its decision on the “accelerated items” within the
Criminal Legal Aid Review. As a result of our lobbying, they have doubled the proposed fee
our members will receive for work on cases sent to Crown Court. They have also confirmed
the work on the review on the sustainability of criminal defence practice will be conducted
independently and undertaken to look at concerns around the sustainability of civil legal aid
work – both things we have been pushing for.
We have had significant engagement with the SRA and LSB about the Solicitors Qualifying
Examination. The SRA has changed its plans in relation to transitional arrangements, in line
with our advice, and committed to monitor and address equality implications of the new
Council was pleased to hear that after discussions with TLS about the challenges facing
practitioners seeking to execute wills, the MoJ announced video witnessing would be valid
for a period of two years, backdated to the end of January 2020.
The chief executive reported that this quarter, we continued to focus our public affairs work
on addressing the Covid-19 pandemic. From June to date, the Law Society and its campaigns
were mentioned 97 times in Hansard and in social media accounts linked to parliamentarians
on a range of issues. In June, the Law Society president gave evidence to the House of Lords’
EU Services Committee on UK-EU negotiations, and in July provided evidence to the
Constitution Committee on the impact of Covid-19 on the courts. In the past three months,
we have also met senior government and parliamentary stakeholders, including the Lord
Chancellor. We have continued to be active in promoting and supporting the role of the
solicitors’ profession in maintaining a focus on the rule of law and access to justice.
Supporting members during Covid-19
Council noted the insight gathered by speaking directly to members, including from directly
surveying sections of our membership, throughout the pandemic has been crucial to our
ability to respond quickly, appropriately and effectively. The lessons from this experience
will help us explore new ways to connect with members.
Diversity Access Scheme
Council heard an update on the Law Society’s work to promote equality, diversity and
inclusion. Our Diversity Access Scheme (DAS) helps talented people who would otherwise
be unable to pursue a career in law by providing funding for their Legal Practice Course
(LPC) and helping secure work placements and professional mentors. We offer 10 DAS
awards each year.
Five out of 10 DAS awardees from 2019 have secured training contracts in a diverse range of
settings, including the CPS and the City. Work has begun on DAS for 2021.
Social Mobility Ambassadors
The Social Mobility Ambassador (SMA) scheme promotes role models from non-traditional
backgrounds who are willing to support their peers plus prospective solicitors.
The recruitment process for SMAs was recently redesigned to make it clearer as well as more
accessible to candidates with disabilities. We received 85 applications and interviewed 27
candidates with help from LDD, LGBT+D and EMLD on the panels.
We have recruited 13 new SMAs. As part of a drive to represent a wide geographical area,
we have a Welsh SMA specifically targeting Wales.
It was reported to Council that we are in the process of finalising the launch of our pilot
digital community designed to connect small firm members to one another and to TLS. The
pilot will test the concept of digital communities in real-time with a live issue: support for
small firms as the country re-opens post-Covid. The digital community aims to increase
awareness of content and resources available to small firms.
May 2020 saw the start of our online events replacing face-to-face events cancelled earlier in
the year. Between May and July, we held our first-ever virtual conference (the annual JLD
conference), 32 webinars and nine podcasts attracting 4,700 delegate bookings and a live
viewing conversion rate of 65%. The online events have been well received and our
geographical reach has increased by 50%.
Learning and development
October will be a significant month for the new member learning and development offer. We
will launch to around 50,000 members from three cohorts (in-house practitioners, compliance
specialists and junior lawyers). Our bite-sized content will be available to purchase to these
Looking to the future
Council approved the draft business plan for 2020-2021. It focuses on building an even
stronger connection with our members, delivering focused and influential policy work, and
continuing to become an even more effective and efficient organisation.
The next council meeting is on the 9th of December 2020.
Law Society Council member for Kent