A bird? A plane? No, it's an abseiling solicitor
Next week the Law Society marks 150 years since the founding of its charter. To celebrate, it aims to put on 'a human face'. Sharon Wallach reports
Wednesday 17 May 1995
Meanwhile, in a move that officials insist is not connected to the fact that the candidates in the upcoming presidential election are united in their determination to introduce administrative changes, the society itself is undergoing an extensive internal reorganisation.
John Hayes, the society's secretary-general, says the restructuring, announced last week, will provide "the most practical and useful support to a profession facing many challenges," as well as making the most effective use of staff talents.
The Law Week event, described by the society as its largest public awareness campaign, aims "to help the public understand their legal rights and to put a human face on the law". The society's president, Charles Elly, says he wants the public to recognise the contribution of solicitors to the justice system and to the local economy.
The latest update on Law Week activities at local level is as thick as a paperback novel. Much is being done in the pro bono spirit as local law societies as well as individual firms throughout the country are offering free advice sessions along with wine or coffee. Many charities and local communities will benefit, too, via sponsored walks, five-a-side football tournaments, quizzes and cricket matches. One Southampton solicitor plans to abseil down a building and the Birmingham trainee solicitors group is donating blood (though presumably not to the Southampton solicitor), as well as visiting schools with a video aimed at getting sixth-formers interested in law.
The courts also feature in Law Week, with open days and mock trials organised by at least two local law societies and the Institute of Legal Executives, whose new council chamber will be opened by Charles Elly in front of regional TV cameras.
Radio phone-ins are a popular choice with several law societies, including Devon & Exeter, which is planning to run a limerick competition on air along the lines of "There was a solicitor from ..." What the prize will be remains unclear.
The West End climax to Law Week will be a show on Sunday at the Duke of York's Theatre, with proceeds going to Amnesty International and Justice. The programme includes scenes from the Royal National Theatre's Murmuring Judges, a monologue written by the Drop the Dead Donkey writer Guy Jenkins, and performances by The Archers' own solicitor Usha Gupta and the Crown Prosecutor cast.
Who knows what the performers will make of the changes at the Law Society's London-based operation, which will see the creation of four new departments, to be run by existing senior managers.
Corporate and regional affairs will be in the charge of Andrew Lockley, currently head of the legal practice directorate. "We have to be better about getting over what we are doing," says John Hayes. This includes creating a central resource encompassing the press and parliamentary unit and the president's office. A review of the society's constitution will also be the responsibility of this department.
Walter Merricks, the current head of communications, will take charge of a professional and legal policy directorate working on law reform, international relations and legal practice policy, and resource management and forward planning will bring administrative matters under the control of Jane Hern.
For the first time, membership services will be brought under one roof. According to Geoff Bignell, who will head the directorate, these have been "desperately neglected." The provision of services for its members is one of the core activities of a professional body but, in recent years, he says: "All the expansion has been in regulation and compliance. No wonder people identify the Law Society as purely a regulatory body."
According to John Hayes, the society's finance committee has been "sorely tempted" to establish a commercial division. "I'm against that," he says. "If it were purely money-making, it would mean getting rid of services like the library."
He says that the new directorate will be judged not on whether it makes a profit, but by how much members appreciate the services, the efficiency of provision and its ability to improve contacts with individual practitioners.
According to Walter Merricks, the reorganisation will be "cost-neutral". "It is designed to focus responsibilities in different ways," he says. "As we are approaching a time of change, we wanted to make sure the society had a management team capable of responding to new challenges. It is better to plan and implement changes in advance of those challenges."
The challengers for this summer's presidential elections have all included in their manifestos varying degrees of review of the Chancery Lane bureaucracy. In theory, a president has no more power than any other member of the council. But this year whoever wins the elections does so on a mandate from the profession as a whole, and will thus acquire a different status and standing in council than in the past, although the precise extent of his or her powers will depend on his or her majority.
But John Hayes is adamant the changes are coincidental to any growing mood for bureaucratic reform. He says he has been planning changes for 18 months, but wanted to wait to implement them until one of the senior managers has been in her current post for three years.
Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown
- 1 iOS 8 apps and features: eight iPhone settings you need to look at after you install the update
- 2 Kim Kardashian 'nude photos' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence scandal
- 3 'F*ck it, I quit': TV reporter Charlo Greene quits live on air in spectacular fashion
- 4 Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
- 5 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
Scotland could still declare independence – even without referendum, says Alex Salmond
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Hilary Mantel 'should be investigated by police' over Margaret Thatcher assassination story, says Lord Bell
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Plebgate MP Andrew Mitchell called officer a 'little s**t', claim court documents 'exposing ex-Chief Whip's 'record of abusing police'
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
iJobs Money & Business
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40000: SThree: As a Recruitment Consultant, y...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...
Up to £80000: Saxton Leigh: My client, a large commodities broker, is looking ...
Day In a Page
A three-bedroom, 15th-century cottage with original features in the picturesque village of Sissinghurst
A six-bedroom terraced house with large south-facing roof terrace, cinema room and wine cellar
A new seven-bedroom home built in Queen Anne-style with swimming pool and parkland views in Mortimer
A listed, four-bedroom farmhouse in the rural hamlet of Rushall with detached barn, four acres of gardens and paddocks
A first-floor flat with two bedrooms, a spacious reception room and communal grounds in a leafy part of London
A three-bedroom flat with a spacious rootop terrace and balcony, accessed from a private gated courtyard
A Grade II-listed pile with six bedrooms, stables and 39 acres of grounds in Standlake
A two-bedroom flat with boutique hotel-style interiors, close to the foodie haunt of West End Lane
A two-bedroom flat in a beautiful old vicarage, with many original features, close to the city centre
A three-bedroom 16th-century home with an aga kitchen, private gardens and heated outdoor pool, in Hadleigh
A three-bedrom home in sought-after Queen's Gate Mews, with Italian marble-finished bathrooms
Surrounded by glorious countryside in the village of Udimore, sits this impressive four-kiln oast and barn conversion
A five-bedroom house in the picturesque village of Kettlewell, north Yorkshire
An 18th-century former coaching inn with original staircase, open fireplaces and beams throughout
A Grade II-listed Georgian town house with three bedrooms and a south-facing courtyard, near Arundel Castle
Feel on top of the world at this über chic penthouse on the 37th floor of one of Europe’s tallest blocks.
A Grade II-listed Victorian villa with six bedrooms and two further cottages, all with spectacular sea views
A grade II-listed, Georgian cottage with mature 50ft garden, perfect for summer entertaining
A magnificent Georgian pile with turrets, seven bedrooms, a heated pool and four acres of gardens
Fairoak Farm has five bedroom suites, gym, outdoor swimming pool and golf course
Chic two-bedroom river-fronted flat with a private lift that delivers you directly to your home
A spectacular seven-bedroom Tudor pile, once owned by Henry VIII, with 18 acres of land
A seven-bedroom Georgian property previously used as a picturesque wedding venue
A split-level flat in a church conversion with two en suite bedrooms and 1,200sq ft of living space
A three-bedroom bungalow situated behind an impressive stone wall, £645,000
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
Chapel House is a former vicarage with nine bedrooms in the beautiful Upper Wye Valley
A five-bedroom B&B and separate owner's accomodation with potential for conversion
Enjoy summer by the Thames in this two double-bedroom converted warehouse in Rotherhithe village
A one-bedroom, luxury apartment with private gym and concierge service in Moorgate
A four-bedroom house in Hermitage Gardens with three reception rooms and landscaped gardens
A seven-bedroom Grade II-listed property with a separate self-contained apartment
A five-bedroom Victorian house with three reception rooms and galleried landing, £695,000
A six-bedroom farmhouse with five acres of land in a former cloth-making village
A secluded seven-bedroom detached house with large private garden, £490,000
A three-bedroom cottage overlooking Sarratt village green with open fires and solid oak floors
A three-bedroom maisonette flat in a Grade I-listed, Georgian townhouse in a sought-after location
A one-bedroom apartment located within a private gated development, north of Turnham Green
Look forward to a brighter future at two-bedroom Sunny Cottages, ideal for Londoners looking to downsize