President's Letter

President of Bristol Law Society,

Becky Moyce at their Annual Dinner

and Awards Ceremony

Since my last review, the shops are full of ghoulish masks, fireworks and Christmas cards. It is difficult to believe that I am now over halfway through my year as your President.

 

Business has certainly picked up a fast pace since the summer break and over the last few weeks the focus has been very much on the promotion of our 2018 Dinner and Legal Awards. We held our launch event at Somerset County Cricket Club which was attended by sponsors, and potential sponsors, nominators and nominees and our media partners Trinity Mirror South West. Mark Ollier, Partner at Beviss & Beckingsale, last year’s winners of the Law Firm of the Year Award (1-10 partners) spoke with passion and enthusiasm about the positive impact of their award on their firm, its staff and current and new clients. Following his hugely motivational words, I’m sure everyone in the room was inspired to submit an awards entry. Thank you Mark. The launch event was a great platform to highlight the extensive coverage that those associated with the Awards have received, and will continue to receive, in the run up to the evening on Thursday 1st March 2018. With a flood of high calibre entrants this year, I am sure the judges will face a challenging time in shortlisting those nominated. I wish you all success and am certain that those shortlisted will be thoroughly deserving of their selection.

 

As the Brexit talks and processes progress and continue to divide opinion, it remains important to show the rest of Europe that we are open for business. Whatever your view, the changing times we live in make our profession’s reputation, its integrity, fairness and independence as crucial as ever. I hope that the “Pride in the Profession” promoted by The Law Society will continue to be a key theme for you as we move towards our exit from the European Union and that our relationships with our European professional colleagues will not be diminished.

 

We continue to work hard to promote what solicitors do, raising the profile of solicitors, and DASLS members in particular, to members of the public. As well as promoting the Awards we have also now launched our new look website. I hope you have had an opportunity to visit it, but if not please take a look at https://www.dasls.com/. We will also be shortly reviewing our Strategic Plan to ensure it meets the needs of our members for the future. If you have any feedback on any areas of our marketing or suggestions for the review, please get in touch with Tony Steiner.

 

I have attended a number of representative engagements during the past couple of months including the Joint Professions' Networking Group event when we heard a very interesting talk by the Chief Executive of Exeter Airport. I was privileged to represent DASLS at the Plymouth Law Society’s Annual Dinner and Bristol Law Society’s Awards and Dinner. I feel it would be remiss of me not to mention a very touching tribute at the Bristol Dinner to Bristol District Judge Julie Exton who died at the age of 59. Julie was described in the Law Society Gazette as “without doubt a stellar example of how we lawyers should conduct ourselves. She was a great asset to the judiciary and is now a great loss to the profession”.

 

I attended for the first time the Past Presidents’ dinner (in training for next year!) and enjoyed a very pleasant evening at the Ilsington Country House Hotel. It is a tribute to DASLS that Past Presidents continue to remain interested in its activities and reassuring for Presidents that they continue to read and enjoy our reviews! I have also attended the Contentious Business and International Relations Sub-Committees and seen first-hand the incredible work that is undertaken by members of those Sub-Committees on behalf of our members.

 

Further meetings of the Vice-President’s and Non-Contentious Business Sub-Committees will soon be held to consider our collective response to the latest SRA consultation paper “Looking to the future” which closes on 20th December. The Law Society will also be responding and you may wish to consider responding individually.

 

Sue Aggett with the Dean of Gdańsk Bar

Further afield, I was delighted to be invited by the Dean of the Gdańsk Bar Association to represent DASLS at its 35th anniversary celebrations. I am inordinately grateful to the Dean and English speaking colleagues from the Gdańsk Bar for their warm welcome to my husband and I and their explanation of the proceedings. The formal part of the evening was followed by a concert and the Dean then generously hosted a meal of us and other guests. Poland is facing significant changes to its judicial system, including transferring the power to determine judicial appointments to the government, threatening to undermine judicial independence and the rule of law. These proposals sparked huge protests during the summer and our colleagues in Poland are very appreciative of the support of European Law Societies to their challenges.

 

Whilst I was attending the Plymouth Law Society dinner, Vice President Stephen Mahoney and his wife represented DASLS at the solemn opening ceremony for the legal year 2017-18 for the Bar Association of Leuven in Belgium, celebrating its 175th anniversary. Dress code for the Friday night dinner was formal with a “touch of red”, an ideal opportunity to wear a red bow tie! Leuven Dean hosted a table with Stephen and his wife, who then enjoyed lunch the following day hosted by the President of the Young Bar Association. The weekend concluded with a sightseeing tour around the historic centre of this ancient University town. It must be a case of “what happens in Leuven stays in Leuven” because the Vice President brought back no photos of the celebrations!

 

Sue Aggett with ASWLS President, Anthony Earl and Plymouth Law Society President, Sue Williams

Sue Aggett with ASWLS President,

Anthony Earl and

Plymouth Law Society

President, Sue Williams

Earlier this month, we held our sixth Admissions Ceremony in the historic Guildhall, Exeter. We welcomed 20 newly qualified Solicitors to the profession and celebrated their achievements. His Honour Judge Allan Gore QC presented the DASLS Certificates of Congratulations and gave a short talk outlining the absolute importance of integrity throughout our professional lives. We were also delighted to welcome District Judges Stephen Arnold, Penelope Taylor and Richard Griffiths to share the evening, together with members of DASLS. I hope the evening provided a welcome introduction to DASLS with an opportunity to network with those present across the profession.

 

Our Somerset Dinner will be taking place just as this goes to press and I will report on that in my next review. I am very much looking forward to the evening as I haven’t previously had an opportunity to attend and hope to see many of you there.

 

Until then, although it seems slightly premature, I wish you all the very best for the rest of this year and the forthcoming festive season.

 

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