I was elected to The Law Society (TLS) Council in September 2017, following the casual vacancy created by my predecessor, Helen Davies, who opted to step down at the end of the third year of her then 4-year term. Since Helen had served as a Council Member for Westcountry & Gwent (with responsibility for Plymouth & Cornwall) for over 20 years, with her knowledge and experience, these were ‘big shoes’ for a novice ‘to fill’.
After serving as President of the Association of South-Western Law Societies (ASWLS) in 2016 and becoming embroiled in lobbying Chancery Lane for the interests of Westcountry solicitors, my primary motivation was to try to ensure that the voice and votes of the then 5 Westcountry council members would not be diluted in the then threatened reform of TLS Council pursuant to TLS governance review. At that time and after over 27 years as managing partner of my firm in Plymouth (19 as senior partner), I was driven by the wish to try to influence the development of profession wide policy which directly affected me and my firm and which, on occasion, had felt at odds with the needs and requirements of provincial practice (in its many diverse entities), particularly in the far south-west.
After 12 months, I began to realise the extent of the challenge and opportunity in being a member of the sovereign body of the profession and thought that I could make some small but useful contribution, as fellow council members seemed to be listening to my interventions/views. As a consequence, and after discussion with my wife, business partners and senior members of both Plymouth and Cornwall Law Societies, I decided to put my name forward in 2018 for re-election for a full 4-year term. It was my intention to use my fairly wide experience of practice, to endeavour to increase the quantity and quality of my interventions/contributions in debate over the issues facing not only TLS (as a business), but also in relation to the improvement of policies for the profession and particular areas/aspects of practice, as time proceeded.
I was re-elected in September 2018. In the last 4 years my contributions have focussed on arguing for and achieving the retention of our 5 seats in the Westcountry (with the voice and votes that go with it), in securing the first ever seat for Plymouth & Cornwall and in arguing against closure of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund and keeping this issue on TLS agenda with a view to maintaining post 6 year run off cover for all solicitors, old and young alike.
I have also made contributions to endeavouring to make council more representative of the profession at large (through the partial redistribution of seats towards young solicitors, ethnic minorities and women) as well as pursuing the policies that I know are relevant and important to our profession in the Westcountry.
As a humble ‘back bencher’, I have also engaged with and made contributions towards the development of policy in relation to the issues facing TLS as a business and, in the face of the dramatic consequences of the C19 pandemic, in its continued development to meet the needs and demands of a growing and increasingly diverse profession. In doing so, I have been mindful of the fact that TLS is a representative organisation that must continue to succeed even if the current compulsory levy on our members is varied at some point up ahead.
I believe that you can always make improvement and as I have, with the support of my many colleagues throughout my career, always been able to achieve improvement, I am an optimist through experience and still believe that ‘the best years are up ahead’. However, as a pragmatist, I know that improvement does not come without sustained hard work and drive/effort.
I am now nearing the end of my first 4-year term and wish to stand for a new term because –
- there remains much to be done to combat the significant consequences of the pandemic.
- the SRA is still to ‘declare its hand’ over what it proposes with SIF and post 6 year run off cover. It is the effort of individual solicitors that underpin access to justice and the rule of law and, I believe that the profession must support the public interest in ensuring that all work undertaken by solicitors is covered by professional indemnity insurance, at all times.
- the older generation must ensure that they do not abdicate their responsibility to pass on to the younger generation a profession worth ‘inheriting’, whilst making sure that the younger generation are very much involved in shaping that profession.
- It takes time to build the confidence in others to accept some of your thoughts and ideas and I believe that, through my knowledge and experience as a managing partner of 32 years and my gathering knowledge and experience of the workings and people of TLS Council, that I might play a more informed role in my effort to represent the interests of my professional colleagues in the far south-west.
I hope that you will vote for me and thank you, if you do.
14 July 2022