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Chief executive and office holders

  • The Law Society has three elected office holders: the president, vice president and deputy vice president. They each hold office for one year.

    Each year the Council elects the deputy vice president; the previous year's deputy vice president becomes the vice president and the vice president becomes president. The handover takes place at the annual general meeting in July each year.

    The office holders are the Law Society’s main ambassadors and represent the organisation at home and abroad. The office of president is a full-time appointment and the president is chair of the Council.

    The chief executive is responsible to the Council and the Management Board.


    President – Jonathan Smithers
    Vice president – Robert Bourns
    Deputy vice president – Joe Egan
    Chief executive – Catherine Dixon


    Jonathan Smithers President - Jonathan Smithers

    Jonathan Smithers began his articles in 1984 at the firm CooperBurnett in Tunbridge Wells. He qualified in 1986 and became an equity partner at the firm in 1990. He is now the senior partner.

    Jonathan has been involved in local law societies for over 25 years. He was elected president of Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge & District Law Society in 2002 and president of Kent Law Society in 2007/8.

    Jonathan joined the Law Society Council in 2007 representing over 2,000 solicitors in the Kent constituency. He has also held positions on the Membership Board and the Law Society Gazette Editorial Advisory Board.

    He is the immediate past chair of the Conveyancing and Land Law Committee and was instrumental in setting up the Conveyancing Quality Scheme, first on its project board and then as a member of the technical panel. He co-authored the Conveyancing Protocol and the Law Society's Code for Completion by Post.

    Jonathan has previously represented the Society as a media spokesperson on a range of legal issues and also represents the law Society on the Land Registry Rules Committee.

    Jonathan is a member of the Oriana Singers, one of the most active choirs in the south east, based in Tunbridge Wells, and has sung in over 40 English cathedrals.

    More about the president

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    Robert Bourns Vice president - Robert Bourns

    Robert began his training in 1978 at Osborne Clarke and qualified in 1980. Robert has significant experience managing and developing a growing business across the UK, having been managing partner for six years and more recently senior partner at TLT.

    Robert has been involved in local law societies for many years, including roles as secretary and president of Bristol Law Society and secretary of the Association of South Western Law Societies.

    Robert joined Council in 2011 and is an elected member of the Management Board. He is one of five representatives for the City of London constituency, a member of the Law Society's Equality and Diversity Committee and a member of the Regulatory Affairs Board Regulatory Processes Committee.

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    Joe Egan Deputy vice president - Joe Egan

    Admitted in 1982, Joe Egan set up his own firm in 1986 specialising in criminal law. Joe became the first solicitor in Bolton to achieve the right to appear in the Crown courts when he was granted higher rights in 1995. Based in Bolton, his firm has expanded to include matrimonial, personal injury, civil litigation and property work.

    For over 15 years Joe has been joint honorary secretary of Bolton Law Society of which he is also a past president. Since 1996 he has represented solicitors in Lancashire and Greater Manchester on the Law Society's Council.

    Joe is a member of the Bolton College Audit Committee and is chair of Citizens Advice Bolton.

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    Catherine Dixon Chief executive - Catherine Dixon

    Catherine Dixon was brought up in Yorkshire, and then qualified as a solicitor, having gained a law degree and completed her Law Society finals at the College of Law in York. She also has an MBA and is an accredited mediator.

    Catherine started her career in private practice, including working at Eversheds. She then joined Bupa, as the head of legal and subsequently as the commercial director of Bupa Care Services. Catherine left Bupa to spend a few years in Vancouver, Canada, initially out of the office as an instructor for Outward Bound and then as a director at Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

    Returning to the UK, Catherine joined the NSPCC as its general counsel and company secretary. In April 2012 she became the chief executive of the NHS Litigation Authority which indemnifies the NHS against legal claims and supports learning and improved patient safety across the NHS. Catherine is also a trustee for the PDSA which provides care to animals whose owners cannot afford to pay.

    In January 2015 Catherine took up the position of chief executive of the Law Society of England and Wales.

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