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Robert Bourns' speech at the lord chancellor's swearing in ceremony

25 July 2016

Robert Bourns, Law Society presidentOn 21 July, president of the Law Society Robert Bourns delivered a speech at the lord chancellor's swearing in ceremony.

Introduction

As president of the Law Society of England and Wales, I welcome you to the post of lord chancellor and look forward to working with you.

Following the referendum, at a time of unprecedented change, it is now more important than ever that we work together to promote:

the law of England and Wales
our jurisdiction
and our legal profession
for its independence, its flexibility and its strength.

The law of England and Wales and this jurisdiction are properly viewed as centres of excellence, which are and will continue to be used around the world. They remain unaffected by the recent EU referendum and are ready to support and enable the opportunities available for international trade.

To this end, our largest law firms have established a world-wide infrastructure and have the expertise and technical ability to support the government, businesses and the public to maximise the benefits in their dealings.

Upholding the rule of law

Respect for the rule of law is demonstrated through the promotion of the principle of access to justice. The lord chief justice stated that he has a shared responsibility with the lord chancellor: 'to ensure justice is at the centre of our society; to secure access to justice for all whatever their means or abilities; to provide the where-with-all through which the judges can administer justice openly and swiftly without fear or favour affection or ill-will.'

We believe that this duty also extends to the legal profession. As officers of the Court, our profession has a responsibility to advance the principle of justice for all and we will engage with the lord chancellor and her officials, as well as the judiciary, in pursuit of this common aim.

The solicitor’s profession strives to adopt innovation in practice, to the benefit of its clients and the public, leading on the development of services for the community with the aspiration that everyone in the country should be able to access early legal advice and contributing to make our justice system accessible to all.

Through this work we are supporting the programme of court reform while at the same time playing our part, and as the lord chief justice stated:

'to affirm our world leadership in the delivery of justice and to underpin the common law’s international role.'

Diversity and the law

Equality, diversity and inclusion are the pillars of a robust justice system. The Law Society believes that if we are to remain a cohesive society, it is absolutely essential that our profession, reflects the society and communities we represent and of which we are a part.

Background, ethnicity, sexual orientation and gender are no bar to a career in the law, we want to ensure that those with the merits, skills and abilities are encouraged to step up, join this profession and develop their careers. As someone said, we must send the lift back down after us.

For these reasons, we must promote social mobility and the values that we share, so that our democracy thrives, is strengthened, maintained and inclusive for all. We want to work together with the lord chancellor and her team to make this vision a reality.

Lord chancellor, once again may I welcome you to your new role.

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