President's Diary

President's Diary Sue Aggett

Sue Aggett

I am very proud and delighted to have been elected as your President for 2017/2018.

Personally, I qualified as a legal executive in 1985 and as a solicitor in 1987.My early career was in private practice with the majority spent in local government at South Hams and Teignbridge District Councils.  In 2011, I was elected the local government representative of DASLS, a role which I have thoroughly enjoyed and which, I hope, has made a positive contribution to our profession.

 

I have had the privilege of spending the last two years learning the ropes, firstly as Deputy Vice President when Will Michelmore was President and for the last year as Vice President to Mark Roome. This has given me an opportunity to see at first hand their incredible work and dedication for DASLS.  Thank you very much Mark for your hard work over the past three years and in particular for your guidance, leadership and commitment throughout the past year. I very much hope I can follow in your footsteps and, indeed, those of all my very distinguished predecessors.

The legal landscape is continually changing but a constant has been our Society. We have a steady growth in individual and corporate membership totalling 1400, a healthy bank balance, and excellent support from our wonderful team at DASLS’ office of Tony Steiner, Monique Bertoni and Francesca Hobbs, together with our Honorary Secretary Chris Hart and Honorary Treasurer, Richard Adams.

 

Solicitors are central to any community, whether in private practice or in-house. Our advice on many issues whether business, litigation, matrimonial, property, housing or many other topics is crucial to those who live and work in our communities. The importance of our ethics, professionalism, understanding and pragmatism cannot be underestimated.

 

Throughout my year as President I would like to continue to build on the enormous amount of work that has gone into promoting the skills and services of solicitors and in particular members of our Society. Promotion of the solicitor brand in Devon and Somerset has been hugely facilitated by publicity through our partnership with DC Media in organising our annual Dinner and Awards.

 

This time last year, the outcome of the EU referendum was unknown. There have been many changes since then, with a snap general election being the latest development.  These changing times make our profession’s reputation, its integrity, fairness and independence as crucial as ever and, in the words of the Lord Chief Justice “… provide the stability and the framework through which the political changes can be undertaken and resolved”.

I would also like to focus on generating greater understanding of our diverse roles across the profession through increased membership of our Society, and greater participation in our many sub-committees and social events. Nationally in-house solicitors make up approximately 22% of the profession and this is increasing. I am keen to reflect this in membership of DASLS and also to build on our engagement with junior lawyers to ensure the continued growth and success of the Society.

 

The Vice-President Stephen Mahoney and I have chosen as our charity for the next two years the Air Ambulance, a charity which covers Devon and Somerset. It probably needs little introduction but the Air Ambulance service provides urgent medical assistance to people in Devon and Somerset. Their helicopters allow them to reach emergency scenes – often inaccessible by road – within minutes, saving hundreds of lives a year.  The costs of providing the service across Devon and Somerset run into millions and each time an air ambulance is used the costs are in the region of £2,500.  We hope you will agree that this is a worthy charity and we are currently exploring fundraising events.

 

Representing DASLS at events and maintaining its profile is part of the role and I look forward to my first engagements at the annual Presidents’ and Secretaries’ Conference in London, and the Dorset Law Society Annual Dinner in May; and the FBE Conference at The Hague in June where the theme is “The Lawyer in dialogue with the International Court”.

DASLS events and meetings provide an opportunity to meet many of our members and I will attend as many as possible. I look forward to the coming year and am delighted to have alongside me Stephen Mahoney, Vice President and Nigel Lyons, Deputy Vice President.

 

It promises to be another busy year for DASLS and I will seek to represent your interests to the best of my ability.

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