You are here:
  1. Home
  2. About us
  3. Chief executive and office holders

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 – Andrew Caplen
    Vice president – Jonathan Smithers
    Deputy vice president – Robert Bourns
    Chief executive – Catherine Dixon

    Andrew Caplen President - Andrew Caplen

    Andrew Caplen is the president of the Law Society. He is a consultant with Heppenstalls, a predominantly private client firm in Hampshire with offices in Lymington and New Milton.

    Andrew has been the Law Society Council member for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight since 2000 and has a particular interest in access to justice. He was one of the co-authors of the Law Society’s Access to Justice Review and has written and spoken widely on access to justice and legal aid issues.

    Andrew was brought up and educated in Hampshire and has worked in Hampshire throughout his legal career. He has had experience in a number of areas of law since qualification.

    Andrew was chair of the Law Society's Access to Justice Committee from 2008 until 2012. He was chair of the Law Society’s Management Board and treasurer of the Law Society Group from 2010 until 2012. He also co-chaired the Group’s Business Oversight Board during its first year of operation.

    He is married to Lindsay, an ordained church minister. In his spare time, he is a fan of Southampton FC and an avid trail-walker, completing long distance routes in many parts of the world.

    More about the president

    back to top

    Jonathan Smithers Vice president - Jonathan Smithers

    Jonathan Smithers began his articles training in 1984 at the firm CooperBurnett in Tunbridge Wells, where he still practises. He qualified in 1986 and became an equity partner in 1990. He has been head of the firm's property department and managing partner for over 20 years.

    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. He is actively involved in his local constituency and for the last five years has helped establish and deliver the Local Law Society Presidents and Secretaries Conference.

    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 represents the Society as a media spokesperson on a range of property law issues and sits 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.

    back to top

    Robert Bourns Deputy vice president - Robert Bourns

    Robert Bourns is senior partner at TLT and became deputy vice president of the Law Society in July 2014.

    He is expected to become president of the Law Society in 2016.

    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.

    The deputy vice president has been involved in local law societies for many years, having been a 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 RAB Regulatory Processes Committee.

    back to top

    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. 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, in April 2012. Catherine is also a trustee for the PDSA which provides care to animals whose owners cannot afford to pay.

    On 5 January 2015 Catherine took up the position of chief executive of the Law Society of England and Wales.

    back to top