It has been a busy couple of months since the New Year. I have taken time to speak with many of the firms around Bristol and would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their time. The year ahead looks to be an unpredictable but busy 12 months. We are on the eve of dramatic changes both to the costs regime for personal injury lawyers and the withdrawal of public funding for many family law practitioners.
Renewals and Corporate Rates
In January, I wrote to all members and firms inviting you to renew your membership. I know from the dialogue that I have had with many of you that there is appreciation for the work that we are doing and the relationships we are building both locally and nationally to promote Bristol and its legal sector. Your membership is critical to Bristol Law Society and if you have not done so already, then may I urge you to complete and return your renewal.
As I mentioned recently, we have introduced a new corporate rate for our member firms. I am pleased to say that a number of firms have taken up the invitation and are now corporate members. Everyone in those firms is now a member of Bristol Law Society; not just solicitors and partners but paralegals, trainee solicitors and support staff. I welcome you all.
I also welcome those sets which have joined our Chambers initiative. To date they are No5, 3PB, St John’s and Guildhall.
We held our first Law Surgery on 31 January and my thanks to Ian Kelcey and Matthew Still. Personally, I think this was a real success and I hope that we were able to address some of the issues that were raised on the day, both Ian and Matthew have taken those issues back to the Law Society and hopefully something positive will arise from that.
The next Law Surgery is scheduled 4 April, at 2pm to 3:30pm. If you would like to make an appointment then please contact Jacek on (0117) 976 3087.
Each year we host a number of professional dinners. This year we have changed the format slightly and invited some relevant keynote speakers. The first of these is Adam Sampson, Chief Legal Ombudsman who will be attending our managing partners’ dinner on Wednesday, 27 March at Brassiere Blanc.
The second of our dinners is for our HR directors and we have invited Alison Eddy of Irwin Mitchell to discuss the difficulties of becoming a female partner in a law firm. Given the importance of equality and diversity in our profession this is increasingly relevant. This will be on Thursday, 25 April.
Our third and final dinner this year is aimed for our financial directors. We are delighted to say that Chris Marston, Head of professional practices at Lloyds TSB will be joining us. He will no doubt highlight some of the key issues that we are facing as a profession. The financial directors’ dinner will be on 23 May, again at Brassiere Blanc.
I hope that your firm will engage with these dinners in some way.
The Year Ahead
Council have been busy in planning our year ahead and we have now fixed most, if not all of our events for the year.
March Managing Partners dinner (27th)
April Law Surgery (4th); HR Directors dinner (25th)
May Annual Quiz (2nd); Joint IV hockey (16th); Financial Directors dinner (23rd); Law Surgery (30th)
June Legal Walk (3rd); Joint IV (4th); ASWLS (6th); Dispute Resolution conference (12th)
July Summer party (11th); Law Surgery (25th)
September Music quiz (19th); Private client conference (25th); Law Surgery (26th)
October Annual Awards dinner (10th); Newly Qualified event (17th); Property conference (24th)
November AGM (27th); Law Surgery (28th)
December Sponsors Event (12th)
ASWLS and Joint IV
May I extend my gratitude to Burges Salmon for hosting the Joint IV event in Bristol on 29 January. That was an especially engaging meeting with our colleagues at Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester Law societies.
A number of members of Exec at Bristol Law Society, together with our JLD representative Nicola Cunnington attended the recent ASWLS meeting on 13 February.
It is important for us to continue with our participation in both of these groups as I believe they are an integral part of our promotion of Bristol’s legal sector and help us understand first-hand what the regions and other cities are experiencing.
There are two things to say. First, we are in discussion with a national CPD provider to arrange new terms for our members which I truly believe will be of benefit to each and every one of you. I am hoping to finalise terms in the next few weeks and should be in a position to tell you more next month.
Secondly, we have held a number of our own conferences which historically have always enjoyed positive feedback from our attendees. This year is no different and we shall be hosting our Dispute Resolution, Private Client and Property Conferences in June, September and October respectively. If these are within your area of expertise then please do consider attending one of our courses which are of great value and of a very high standard.
I am pleased to say that we have engaged Helen Read to coordinate our joint placement scheme with University of West of England. The purpose behind this scheme is to enable those students that don’t have the benefit or certainty of a training contract to gain valuable work experience in a law firm. Whenever I have done this, I have found it to be of great benefit on a personal level. It is an ideal opportunity to help someone hoping to enter the profession to gain that vital that inside knowledge. If you are able, please do contribute by offering a placement either this summer or Easter.