DASLS 2019 Annual General Meeting - Preliminary Notice

As a DASLS Member you are invited to attend the Society’s Annual General Meeting on 30 April starting at 6.00 p.m. at the Exeter Golf & Country Club . The short business meeting will be followed by a members’ dinner.  The Committee hope to see as many members as possible.


The purpose of an AGM is to give members an opportunity each year to meet the directors i.e. the Committee members, to ask questions and receive information about the  Society. The AGM notice will be sent out electronically with the e-bulletin Buzz. If you would prefer to receive a hard copy of the AGM documentation, please contact monique@dasls.com


Below the report from the President and Committee, part of the AGM documentation which members will be able to access on DASLS website prior to the AGM on 30 April.

My year as DASLS President has passed as swiftly as I expected.  It has been challenging in terms of time management but has also been a personally rewarding experience I would not have missed.  Being President provided me with my first visit to 113 Chancery Lane when attending the Local Law Society Presidents’ and Secretaries’ Conference in June and, before that, the unforgettable experience of addressing Lords, MPs and fellow solicitors as a member of the County Societies’ Group deputation to Parliament in May.


I would never have expected it before becoming President, but I have embraced social media to a greater extent, learning to tweet and quite enjoying it.  My thanks to Tony Steiner for getting me started and to my small, loyal band of followers, but the DASLS President’s Twitter account still has a long way to go to match the following The Honorary Secretary attracts.


I believe I fulfilled my aim of attending at least one meeting of each of DASLS Sub- Committees.  I commend them all for the time their members give up from their busy day to day working schedules to attend meetings and to take appropriate follow up action on matters discussed.  Where this involves interaction with The Law Society itself and our regulatory bodies, it all helps to cement the reputation and importance of DASLS as a voice and opinion of which note should be taken.


I have also tried to play some part in encouraging more communication and interaction between DASLS itself, our Junior Lawyers’ Division and the local branches of CILEx. Attending and speaking at the J L D meeting in November for election of new committee members was a really worthwhile experience and it was a delight to attend the CILEx Devon branch Autumn Ball and to meet the CILEx National President, Deputy Vice President and Immediate Past President.


DASLS continues to be a driving force behind the County Societies’ Group in which we are members with Kent, Surrey, Newcastle, Cheshire and North Wales and Leicestershire.  Besides the joint delegation to Parliament in May, I was pleased to attend meetings of the group in London last June and then in November at the Local Law Societies’ National Conference which was hosted by Leicestershire Law Society.


It has been my privilege to attend dinners and awards evenings hosted by our fellow Association of South Western Law Societies’ members Bristol, Monmouthshire, Plymouth and Cornwall and I was sorry to have to miss that of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire.  My presidency also coincided with the 70th anniversary of ASWLS itself and a dinner to celebrate this landmark at Celtic Manor last July.  My very first official function last April was the Institute of Chartered Accountants South West Annual Dinner while, more recently, I also attended the Torquay and District Medical Society Medico-Legal dinner and talk. 


On the international front, prior to the 2018 Exeter Sunday Legal Service, it was my pleasure to host the dinner for lawyers from Bilbao, Erlangen, Gdańsk, Leuven, Rotterdam and Verona and also the new President of FBE, Michele Lucherini and Immediate Past President (and DASLS member) Professor Sara Chandler QC (Hon).  I attended the Twin Bars meeting last June hosted by the Young Bar of Leuven, the 80th anniversary celebrations of The Hague Bar in July and, in February, the Festividad de Sant Raimon de Penyafort in Barcelona. I would have liked to be able to go to Erlangen for their Walking Day because DASLS has lacked representation there over the past few years.  Unfortunately I was away at the time. Due to a prior commitment, I also had to miss the Southern Law Association of Ireland’s dinner in Cork, Deputy Vice President Paul Kelly kindly deputising for me.


The DASLS Somerset Dinner in November was attended by well in excess of 100 members and guests and Denis Burn, the High Sheriff of Somerset, proved an excellent choice of guest speaker.


As I write this report, preparations are in full swing for the 2019 DASLS Annual Awards and Dinner being held at our most prestigious venue yet, Exeter Cathedral. The event is sold out which means around 480 people are attending. There have been more nominations than ever before and more entries making the short list.  I attended many of the meetings for the 2018 Awards during my Vice Presidency.  Whether it is down to general economic uncertainty, the Brexit effect or just financial belt tightening, the process of securing sponsorship for the 2019 Awards has been far more challenging.  Our new Awards partners Grow Marketing have worked very hard alongside Tony and Monique to achieve full sponsorship and the continuity and enthusiasm provided by Alice Bryan, formerly of Trinity Mirror Group, but now at Grow, has been extremely helpful.


I would like to thank my partners at Porter Dodson for allowing me the opportunity and honour of being your President and the excellent support of colleagues from the firm with great attendance at the Society’s Somerset Dinner and for the Awards themselves both in terms of enthusiastic participation in submitting category nominations and attendance on the night.


As is entirely appropriate, just like my Presidential predecessors, I want to say a huge thank you to Monique Bertoni and Tony Steiner whose organisational skills, experience and energy make the role of DASLS President so much less onerous than it would otherwise be.  Harry Martin has been in post for just over a year now and I have witnessed him taking on additional responsibilities in support of Tony and Monique.  I am most grateful to the whole team at Aston Court for their support.


Likewise, I would like to thank Honorary Secretary, Chris Hart and Honorary Treasurer Richard Adams for their wise counsel, guidance and support throughout the year.  It is really helpful for the President to have the resource of their experience to call upon.  Chris has had some serious health issues to cope with during my term of office, but he made light of these.  He was MC for the Somerset Dinner just a few days before his operation.  I am so pleased he is recovering well and I am sure you will join me in wishing him a return to the rudest of health as soon as possible.


Finally, I would like to wish your new President, Nigel Lyons, the very best of luck and as enjoyable and fulfilling a year as I have had.  Nigel is a former President of Plymouth Law Society and I am sure that experience will stand him in good stead.


Stephen Mahoney




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