Governance handbook

This handbook sets out the key features of our Council, our Board and their committees. It covers how we work, our governance structure, elected and appointed members, and meetings.

Introduction

The governance handbook sets out key features of the Law Society's Council and Board and their committees, and provides information on our governance.

It is essential reading for all elected and appointed members (EAMs).

Our purpose

The Law Society is the professional body for solicitors.

Our vision is to promote, protect and support solicitors, the rule of law and justice in England and Wales.

For nearly 200 years, we have championed solicitors working in the public interest and their role in protecting rights and promoting justice.

We have more than 200,000 members across England and Wales, who are at the heart of what we do.

We are proud of our dynamic and diverse profession and its unrivalled expertise. We want to be an organisation our members are equally proud to be part of.

We work as one team with our staff and our EAMs on Council, the Board and our committees to achieve this.

Learn more about our corporate strategy, objectives and annual business plan

The Law Society and professional regulation

The Law Society's primary function is as the representative body for the solicitors' profession.

While we are named the 'approved regulator' of solicitors under the Legal Services Act 2007 (LSA), almost all regulatory functions, except for a limited residual assurance role, are delegated to the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), which is operationally independent.

This separation between representative and regulatory functions is a requirement of the LSA.

It is governed by Internal Governance Rules (IGRs) made by the Legal Services Board (LSB), the overarching regulator of legal services in England and Wales.

In our residual role, we receive assurance from the SRA that it is exercising its function as the profession's frontline regulator in line with the LSA's statutory requirements.

The SRA must report to our Council, and Audit Committee, in line with an assurance protocol that requires three reporting points throughout the year. 

Read the IGRs and related statutory guidance on the IGRs on the LSB website.

The LSB has no authority under the LSA to exercise any power relating to the Law Society's representative functions, other than to ensure their effective separation from regulatory functions.

The LSB does have a key oversight role in relation to the regulatory functions performed by the SRA and other frontline regulators of legal services.

How we work

Our values

We are guided by the values expected of a world-class profession: clarity, trust, respect and excellence.

Our values guide what we say and how we act. Everyone agrees to respect and demonstrate these principles through their day-to-day decision making and behaviour.

We hold each other to account by speaking up when we see behaviour that doesn't support our culture. This applies to all relationships between and among staff and EAMs.

Expected behaviours and the Principles of Conduct

We want an organisational culture where we all feel valued, welcomed and recognised.

We are committed to ensuring that neither employees nor EAMs are subjected to unacceptable or unlawful actions within a professional environment.

We do not tolerate instances of discrimination, harassment or bullying.

Our organisational culture is reflected in the Principles of Conduct, which are applicable to all EAMs.

These are broadly based on the core principles laid down by the Committee on Standards in Public Life (the Nolan Committee).

They should be read together with the Law Society Culture Code, which applies to all EAMs and staff.

EAMs are also expected to adhere to the Law Society Group policies in relation to equal opportunities, bullying and harassment and the Dignity and Respect at Work policy in their dealings with Law Society staff. These will be provided on election or appointment.

It is important to emphasise that, although displaying certain behaviour or using specific language may be intentionally harmless, it is how the recipient perceives the behaviour which determines whether it is appropriate.

To make sure we all know what is expected, all new EAMs must complete our online equality, diversity and inclusion training module, which they are expected to regularly refresh where necessary (for example, if they are re-appointed for a new term).

The below illustrates what to expect when working with each other.

What should EAMs expect from Law Society employees?
  • Recognition of their knowledge, skills and expertise of the law and practice
  • Engagement based on mutual respect
  • Challenge to make sure we are all delivering to a high standard
  • Clarity in communication
  • Being honest about what they can and cannot do, in a polite and timely manner
  • Information as to working hours and availability and acknowledgement of the members' time in return
  • Respect and courtesy and for employees to not engage in bullying/harassing behaviour or unlawful discrimination of any kind
What should Law Society employees expect from EAMs?
  • Respect for their areas of expertise and engagement based on this
  • Challenge to ensure we are all delivering to a high standard
  • For their ideas to be considered and not criticised publicly or in view of other EAMs or colleagues who are not direct line management (and any criticisms to line management should be made privately rather than publicly)
  • Freedom to say to EAMs when something is not achievable due to resource or time constraints
  • Respect and courtesy and for EAMs to not engage in bullying/harassing behaviour or unlawful discrimination of any kind

The Principles of Conduct give a comprehensive statement of our position on how actual or potential conflicts should be handled when necessary.

Where it is suggested that an EAM has acted inappropriately, the first step is to raise the matter informally.

If the action relates to a member of staff, this should be done either directly by the member of staff or through their line manager.

Where it relates to another EAM, it may be done directly, or it may be appropriate to involve the chair of the meeting or an office holder.

The chair has a first-line role in addressing any behaviours that undermine the work of any committee.

In the first instance, these incidents might be sensitively addressed during a meeting or in a follow-up discussion.

In most circumstances, it should be possible to resolve any concerns without taking formal action.

If needed, we have an escalation process for serious and/or repeated instances of poor member behaviour.

If the matter cannot be resolved informally, a complaint may be made to the Conduct Committee for investigation and a potential sanction.

The Conduct Committee has detailed procedures for this, including the option of mediation before its formal process is engaged.

Risk management

Effective risk management is a key element in running a successful business. It is integral to achieving our objectives.

Primary responsibility for ensuring that we have robust arrangements in place for risk management is with the Audit Committee under its terms of reference (General Regulation 27).

The Audit Committee receives regular reports on handling organisational risk, including:

  • a regularly updated risk register
  • internal control auditing
  • reports on our systems of financial control
  • independent internal audit through our dedicated internal audit partner

Further assurance is provided by the Board, given its overall remit with Law Society finances (including investments) and in the conduct of litigation on behalf of the Law Society.

Alongside managing risk, internal controls are the procedures we have in place to help us manage and mitigate risks.

We have an internal control and risk framework, which outlines the components, principles and factors necessary to effectively manage risk.

All papers for Council, Board and committees have a mandatory section on risk and detailed guidance on how to assess risks in any proposal, whether financial, operational, legal or reputational.

We have a risk and assurance team as part of the legal services function. 

In addition to undertaking internal control and risk reviews, they provide advice on a wide variety of risk topics, including data risk management, information compliance and other areas of corporate assurance.

Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI)

We are committed to creating a more modern, diverse and inclusive profession. To support our members and member firms, we:

  • gather data and carry out research, often in partnership, to build a robust evidence base for adction on EDI in the profession
  • develop tools and resources for change to guide member firms and organisations, such as our diversity and inclusion framework
  • convene law firms and organisations to discuss issues, share best practice and get involved in our work: for example, through forums, roundtables or events
  • share impact stories of what has worked for organisations
  • share the experiences and voices of our members from diverse backgrounds through stories and profiles
  • provide targeted and direct support through programmes such as our Diversity Access Scheme (our flagship scholarship programme to support aspiring solicitors into the profession) and practical workshops to support solicitors from under-represented groups who are interested in becoming a judge

Our diversity and inclusion (D&I) networks provide a forum for marginalised groups in the profession to share, discuss and support each other.

They also provide us with a rich source of expertise and experience to inform the development and delivery of a valued offer, tailored to specific member needs.

Each of our networks has a committee that helps to inform and shape our work. We have four D&I networks:

  • Disabled Solicitors Network
  • Ethnic Solicitors Network
  • LGBTQ+ Solicitors Network
  • Women Solicitors Network

Explore our resources, research stories and news on our D&I hub

EDI within the Law Society

As well as driving change in the profession, we are committed to leading by example and making EDI a priority for us as an employer, service provider and consumer of services.

Our EDI vision is to grow an organisation in which we can all thrive and take pride and where all staff feel valued, welcomed and embraced.

Our internal EDI action plan and annual report reflects on our progress and sets out our commitment to furthering our EDI vision over the years ahead.

We are an equal opportunity employer and we treat all employees and job applicants (including those applying for positions on our Board and committees) in line with our EDI policy.

We are keen to ensure that our recruitment and selection policies and procedures reflect our commitment to EDI.

We regularly review our recruitment practices and encourage all our staff and Council members to share diversity data, which helps us to continually improve how we approach EDI.

Conflicts of interest and the register of interests

We have commercial and non-commercial interests to protect, and our ability to do so must not be compromised by any potential conflicts.

Where an interest is defined as prejudicial (potentially resulting in a member being influenced, or being reasonably seen to be influenced, by the real possibility of significant financial or non-financial gain or loss), the member should not speak or vote on the matter and may need to withdraw from the meeting.

Interests which do not meet this definition also need to be declared, but it is up to the member's discretion whether withdrawal is required.

Declarations should be recorded at the time the matter of interest is discussed and/or at the start of the meeting where it is on the agenda.

The general duties of committee members and chairs are broadly analogous to those of company directors under sections 175 to 177 of the Companies Act 2006.

Below are some potential examples in which conflicts of interest may arise:

  • membership of a political party, trade union or lobbying organisation whose principal purposes include influencing public opinion or policy in areas relevant to our work
  • being a local councillor
  • being a significant investor in a company with which we may do business
  • being a freemason or a member of a similar organisation
  • being involved in litigation against the Law Society
  • being accused of criminal non-motoring offences or being referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) for alleged breaches of conduct

All meeting agendas will include declaration of interests as an early item before the committee moves to substantive business.

Ideally, all interests will be declared here, but it is possible that a member does not realise they have an interest until later in the meeting, in which case it should be declared as soon as the member becomes aware of it.

The chair is responsible for responding to conflicts and whether the conflict is one which cannot be waived.

In many cases, a conflict can be dealt with simply by a declaration that it exists and the committee taking note accordingly.

There is a centrally held register where members are required to declare outside interests and to update this information regularly.

The register covers Council and Board members, committee chairs, the chief executive and executive directors.

Those covered by the register will be contacted on a regular basis to confirm whether there are any updates.

Governance structure

We are a private membership body, with the legal status of a chartered corporation.

Originally founded in 1825, we operate under the Royal Charter of 1845 and subsequent supplemental charters, which established Council as our governing body.

Our Council is supported by the Board, which overseas the implementation of the strategy and business plan.

Both Council and the Board are supported by several committees, which have delegated areas of responsibility.

More information on our structure is available in our constitutional documents.

Role and structure of the Council

The Council sets the strategic direction of the Law Society. Find out more about Council's structure

The residual role of Council as 'approved regulator' is exercised subject to the IGRs set by the legal services regulator, the LSB.

While Council delegates much of the day-to-day work to the Board and committees through the General Regulations, it fulfils the following strategic and high-level functions:

  • representing the collective voice of the profession
  • setting policy on issues of profession-wide significance that may be referred to it by the Board or committees
  • discharging responsibilities as an approved regulator under the LSA 2007 by assuring itself of the compliance by the SRA Board with the LSA's requirements
  • responding to SRA consultations on all policy matters relating to regulation of the profession
  • receiving annual reports from the SRA Board and the special committees of the Council
  • informing and shaping strategic priorities for the Law Society
  • providing a forum for debate on issues of significance to the profession
  • considering and approving the Law Society's business plan and budget, following consultation and recommendations by the Board and reflecting our strategic priorities
  • electing the deputy vice president (who succeeds as vice president, then president) and some other role holders (such as some of the members of committees)
  • ensuring that arrangements are in place for holding to account the office holders and chief executive
  • ensuring that arrangements are in place for coordinating the work carried out by boards and committees and for resolving divergences of view where necessary
  • promoting our public interest work

Role and structure of the Board

The Board's role is to work with the Council and the executive team, providing oversight and leadership in implementing the strategy and policy approved by Council.

The General Regulations set out the membership of the Board.

The Board will carry out periodic reviews to ensure the skills and experience of Board members are being used effectively.

The General Regulations outline the Board's terms of reference, which describe its roles and responsibilities.

Also included are the composition and terms of reference of its five committees:

  • Policy and Regulatory Affairs Committee (PRAC)
  • Membership and Communications Committee (MCC)
  • People and Remuneration Committee (P&RC)
  • Finance and Investment Committee (F&IC)
  • the National Board for Wales/Bwrdd Cenedlaethol Cymru (NBW/BCC)

All five committees report to and support the Board in its work.

While Council is the sovereign body for all Law Society business, the Board has a responsibility to draw its attention to anything of strategic or developmental importance.

In particular, the Board will report to Council following each meeting.

Office holders

The president, vice president and deputy vice president are, collectively, the office holders.

The provisions relating to these members are bye-laws 95 to 98, which cover the underlying appointment protocol and their terms of office.

A Council member is elected to the position of deputy vice president by Council every year.

A year is spent in this position before progressing automatically to vice president for a year and then to president for a year.

In total, three years are spent as an office holder.

The office holders provide strong leadership to the Council, ensuring it works effectively to fulfil its responsibilities as the sovereign body of the Law Society.

The president is the principal ambassador internally and with external stakeholders.

Ultimately, their role is to champion and lead the profession; to represent the profession to UK and Welsh governments, the media and other external bodies, and to lead the Law Society Council.

The vice president and deputy vice president are to deputise as and when necessary and support the president in carrying out their Law Society function.

Elected and appointed members

Council member roles and responsibilities

This list of roles and responsibilities for individual Council members was agreed by Council in 2020.

Role
  • To represent the solicitors of today, providing an effective collective voice
  • To deliver high-level thought leadership on all matters affecting solicitors, the legal profession and the public interest
  • To contribute to the Law Society achieving its objectives
  • To ensure good governance, high-quality contribution and timely decision-making
Responsibilities
  • To identify and take into consideration the views and the interests of their constituents and to pursue matters raised by or relevant to their constituents, as well as the wider profession and the public interest
  • To consider the future for the profession and its constituent parts, to understand uncertainties better, to ensure it is adequately prepared and able to develop resilient policies for different future environments
  • To approve the Law Society business plan and annual budget for representative functions based on familiarity with drafts and any attendant issues
  • To ensure that Council's decisions are complied with as far as practicable by the Board and its subsidiary committees and ensuring that the work of the Board and its committees is well coordinated
  • To keep under review the external regulatory arrangements applicable to solicitors and assure itself that the SRA is fulfilling its obligations under the LSA 2007
  • To define/approve the policy of the Law Society representative function on all significant matters
  • To define the priorities for how the Law Society will most effectively represent the profession and the public
  • To oversee the implementation of both policy and strategy
  • To hold the office holders to account
  • To elect the deputy vice president
Responsibilities on behaviour
  • Uphold the Principles of Conduct for EAMs and adhere to our values and EDI and dignity at work policies
  • At all times, act in the interests of the profession and the public and with integrity
  • Demonstrate commitment to promoting equality and diversity and the promotion of inclusive processes, practices and culture
Responsibilities to meetings
  • Devote the necessary time to their work as a Council member
  • Attend all Council meetings (a Council member not attending three consecutive Council meetings without leave of the Council will be deemed to have resigned with effect from the conclusion of the third meeting)
  • Read the relevant papers in advance and be fully prepared for Council meetings, vote when a vote is held and stay for the duration of the meeting, unless there is unavoidable reason not to
  • Keep themselves informed of the Law Society's work and current issues
Responsibilities to engage
  • Represent nationally and, where appropriate, regionally the interests of solicitors in respect of all relevant law, justice and practice issues
  • Engage regularly with their constituency members, including where appropriate by facilitated regulatory compliant electronic and social media networks
  • Engage with Law Society initiatives and, where appropriate, with technical committees, Sections, Networks or local law societies and regional groupings, relevant to their constitutency
  • Engage with staff and other volunteers working for the Law Society in a manner compliant with the Code of Conduct and Culture Code and all other policies
  • Engage in and complete all appropriate training opportunities

In addition to Conduct Committee sanctions, a Council member may be removed from Council, at Council's discretion, if convicted of a criminal offence (subject to minor exceptions) or ordered by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) to be suspended from practice or pay a penalty.

In practice, the Conduct Committee would advise the Council on whether the member should be removed, having followed a procedure like that if a compliant were made against an EAM. This is set out in our bye-laws.

A Council member being removed following a conviction, SDT finding or a "serious breach of the Principles of Conduct", is automatically suspended from office for the duration of the investigation.

Upon this suspension, a Council member from a neighbouring geographical seat, or a related area of practice, will act as a proxy for urgent matters from constituents.

Board chair and members

The provisions for the appointment, reappointment and terms of office of the Board chair and its members are set out in the General Regulations.

The role of chair is a remunerated position. The role of Board members is to work collectively to discharge the Board's functions.

What is expected of the Board chair?
  • Ensuring that the Board covers the full range of its responsibilities each year through a planned programme of work
  • Drawing the best contribution from each individual Board member and from the Board as a whole so that its collective expertise is most effectively applied
  • Promoting the highest standards of governance in the work of the Board, including the effective application of internal and external guidance
  • Reporting on the Board's activities at each Council meeting and working with the president (as chair of the Council) to manage the interplay between the respective responsibilities of Board and Council
  • Ensuring that the chief executive and executive leadership team have clear direction and delegated authority for all areas within the Board's remit and that reporting requirements are set at the most effective levels
  • Acting as line manager to the chief executive
  • Acting as a spokesperson for the Law Society, particularly in relationships with the chairs of key stakeholder organisations
  • Contributing to various task groups established from time to time where the expertise or involvement of the chair is important
  • Working closely and effectively with the president and chief executive so that communication is open, responsibilities are clear and actions are well-coordinated
  • Working closely with the executive and the chair of the Finance and Investment Committee to ensure the sound financial health of the Law Society, with systems in place to ensure financial accountability
  • Reviewing major risks and supporting the Audit Committee and executive to ensure that systems are in place to take advantage of opportunities and to manage and mitigate risks
  • Provide strategic leadership to the Board, overseeing the work of Board committees
  • Take responsibility for the Board's composition and development with advice from the People and Remuneration Committee
  • Plan and conduct Board meetings effectively, with input and support from the executive
  • Engage the Board in assessing and improving its performance, engaging in a performance appraisal process on an annual basis, with outcomes reported to Council
  • Oversee the induction and development of Board members and chairs of committees of the Board
  • Foster and maintain constructive working relationships with fellow members of the Board and the executive
Responsibilities of Board members
  • Contributing to the development of the Law Society's strategic direction
  • Bringing knowledge and expertise to Board discussions and demonstrating an understanding of internal functions and the wider regulatory and political environment
  • Holding the executive to account for the management and performance of the organisation, and the implementation of the strategy and policies settled by Council
  • Ensuring that issues are explored from a range of viewpoints, with appropriate focus on equality, diversity and inclusion
  • Taking an active part in Board and committee meetings and working effectively with the executive
  • Participating in induction, training and appraisal processes
  • Acting as an ambassador for the Law Society when engaging externally
  • Upholding the principle of collective responsibility for Board and subcommittee decisions as approved by the Board

A committee chair and members

The role of a chair is critical to creating an environment for success. The chair is responsible for ensuring the meetings fulfil their purpose in supporting our strategic purpose. 

This is general guidance applicable to the chair function.

What is expected of the chair?
  • Engagement with the Law Society's purpose
  • To identify and set committee priorities, with the chief executive, president and Board or governance officer, another relevant members of staff
  • To set meeting dates in consultation with the members (the Board or governance officer will propose dates at the appropriate time)
  • To settle the agenda for meetings. The Board or governance officer will draft this, but it is for the chair to approve the inclusion of items and the order in which to take them
  • Consider and, if appropriate, provide briefings to Board or committee members in advance of meetings
  • Agree the classification of any confidential papers in line with the Freedom of Information Code
  • Chair the meeting, ensuring all relevant interests are declared, all participants can contribute to the discussion and the meeting runs to time, and outlining clear next action steps
  • Comment on and approve the minutes, which will be provided in draft by the Board or governance officer
  • Contribute to work between meetings through email exchanges, conference calls or face-to-face meetings where necessary
  • Keep an overview of Board and committee membership, including succession planning
  • Make recommendations to the appropriate parent body (usually PRAC, Board or Council) for the appointment or reappointment of members, and act as a panel member to interview candidates for committee or Board membership
  • Work constructively with other committee members and internal staff
  • Before taking up the role, complete our online preparatory training
  • Observe the culture code and the Principles of Conduct for Council and committee members, including the Code of Practice on Conflicts of Interest
  • Build a positive and effective working relationship between committee members and members of the executive, creating a relationship of respect
Responsibilities of committee members
  • Engagement with the Law Society's purpose
  • To attend meetings having read and reflected on the meeting papers in advance
  • To maintain relevant subject matter expertise to enable them to play a full part in discussions and to be prepared to challenge constructively, while respecting the views of others
  • To contribute to ongoing work between meetings, including email discussions, working parties and conference calls
  • To respect the confidentiality of meetings
  • To work constructively with the Board/committee chair, fellow members and Law Society staff
  • To be bound by collective responsibility
  • To comply with the culture code and Principles of Conduct
  • To give notice as soon as possible for apologies of absence
  • To disclose any conflicts of interest
  • To complete all Law Society mandatory training
  • To be aware of issues of concern to members of the profession, broader public policy debates and the changing legal landscape
  • To bring their experience as a subject matter expert in one or more areas of law or areas of interest relevant to the committee's work
  • To be aware of other stakeholders in the field and subject area

Council, Board and committee meeting support

The role of the governance officer

Council, Board and each committee has an appointed governance officer.

The governance officer will be the first point of contact for the chair and members.

The governance officer works with members of the team who are responsible for the recruitment of committee members by monitoring committee members' length of service and eligibility for reappointment.

They liaise with the relevant team member and chair to establish the skills and experience that need to be recruited to the committee.

The governance team supports Board and Council and their subcommittees, and the policy team supports the advisory committees and groups that report to PRAC.

What a good meeting should look like

An effective meeting is one:

  • where the agenda and papers best reflect the strategy of the committee
  • which engages effectively with members to maximise the use of their commitment and skills

Meetings should have a purpose that cannot be achieved other than by immediate collaborative working.

If there is insufficient business to justify holding a meeting, the chair should consider cancelling it.

In circumstances where there is a small amount of business, the Board/committee should consider communicating by email and reporting back at the next meeting.

Members should be encouraged to raise any matters or business with the chair, governance officer and/or the policy adviser in advance. This will help to ensure that staff are able to prepare ahead of time.

Members should be encouraged to highlight any necessary corrections to the minutes with the relevant secretary at the earliest opportunity.

Scheduling of meetings

The Council has four 'formal' quarterly meetings a year, either at 113 Chancery Lane (with hybrid facilities) or remotely.

It is our policy that all meetings must have a hybrid option, and each committee will not generally hold meetings with a face-to-face option more than twice a year.

Council will meet once every three years in Wales and may hold additional 'town hall' meetings, usually remotely, to allow for focused discussion on a small number of policy issues.

Council fixes the dates of its regular meetings ahead of time, and the president may alter these or cancel them entirely.

It holds several informal meetings throughout the year, including a strategic planning event, which focuses on shaping the business plan and membership offer for the coming year.

Council has a workplan, which provides the key framework for Council business.

However, the agenda for each meeting as agreed by the president and considers progress on issues made by the Board and committees.

Some business arises on a regular basis, such as the approval of the budget and business plan for the following year in December and reviewing practising certificate (PC) fee requirements in July.

Council meetings can be convened by the president, the chief executive or with notice from 25 Council members (General Regulation 2(1)) and are chaired by the president (deputised when necessary).

If none of the office holders are present or wish to take the chair, the Council may choose another member to do so (General Regulation 6(4)).

The chair of a Council meeting has certain powers under the General Regulations and procedures and under the general common law of meetings.

Additional meetings may need to be arranged to allow time to discuss a specific item in greater depth or to fit with an external deadline.

These meetings will be supported in the same way, but they will have shorter agendas and possibly fewer or no papers.

Confidentiality

Meetings comprise two parts:

  • a public or 'Part 1' agenda, where the papers are in the public domain
  • a private or 'Part 2' agenda, where the papers and the debate are confidential
    • Part 2A may be discussed with the profession but not the public
    • Part 2B remains confidential to Council

Confidential papers will bear the 'CONFIDENTIAL' watermark, which appears on electronic and hard copies.

We do not generally provide hard copies.

At the meeting, the confidentiality designation may be withdrawn by the chair of the meeting.

(In certain circumstances, a paper which has been classified as public may be discussed, by decision of the chair, as Part 2A or 2B.)

We are committed to transparency and aims to conduct as much business as possible in public.

All EAMs, on appointment, are bound to keep confidential all business in the private part of the agenda.

It is important to respect confidentiality where papers and discussions are classified, whether the EAM personally agrees with the classification or not.

It is important to take standard precautions in relation to confidential documents, such as:

  • storing them securely
  • not reading them where someone could observe
  • disposing of them securely when finished

It is not acceptable to use social media platforms to publicise confidential business.

It is equally important to consider confidentiality with reference to personal data, details of which are highlighted in the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines, which can be found on the ICO website.

EAMs should note that we are not lawfully able to share personal information, such as constituent email addresses, as it would be a breach of GDPR.

Additionally, we are obligated to conduct an exercise identifying members who did not wish to be contacted by post and/or email, and those preferences are considered in all mailing lists that are used.

Meeting papers

Meeting papers should be concise. They should have relevant information, appropriate data and additions should be reduced where possible.

They should adhere to our house style.

Those who requisition papers, as well as those authorising them, should avoid production of different papers, presented to different committees or meetings, relating to the same subject but dealing with the information differently.

It is for the executive to decide appropriate levels of sign-off for papers, considering the complexity of agenda items.

They should also clarify the point of contact for that specific agenda item.

Papers will be distributed to members between seven and 10 days before a meeting.

Some late papers may be circulated or tabled at the meeting if they are dependent on recent decisions. The chair decides whether to admit or refuse late papers.

Except for members who have visual impairments or otherwise require adjustments, paper circulation is as a password protected electronic book, by email

Minutes

The Board or governance officer will draft the minutes as soon as possible following each meeting. The table below sets out maximum deadlines.

Minutes will follow our house style.

In most cases, individual contributions will not be named unless a member has asked for a particular viewpoint to be recorded.

Minutes are classified as public or confidential, depending on the classification of the relevant paper.

Meeting type Draft minutes
Council 10 working days
Board Seven working days
All Board subcommittees Seven working days
All Council subcommittees Seven working days

The minutes will be reviewed by the executive (in terms of Council and Board), relevant members of staff as required and by the chair.

Once the chair has approved the draft, it is circulated to committee members.

Minutes are not produced for signature at the subsequent Board or committee meeting but, on approval, are circulated to members and agreed at the next meeting.

The exception to this is Council minutes, which are signed by the president.

The chair may also request a copy of any audio recordings of the meeting.

This can be supplied only on a password-protected Law Society memory stick, which must be returned.

It is not normal practice to make or provide verbatim transcripts of meetings, save in exceptional circumstances (such as Conduct Committee hearings).

Admission of members and journalists to Council

Any Law Society member or legal journalist may attend and receive agenda papers for the public (Part 1) element of Council meetings.

If all visitor seating in the Council room has been taken, additional accommodation may be made available, linked by audio-visual facilities.

If it appears to the chair that confidential matters have arisen during the public part of the meeting, they may defer further discussion of that business to the non-public part of the meeting or ask Law Society members and legal journalists to leave the meeting while the confidential business is discussed.

The chair may ask any Law Society member or legal journalist to leave a Council member if their behaviour is disruptive or offensive.

Cameras and recording equipment should not be brought into a Council meeting, other than with the chair's permission.

Council meetings are recorded by our staff principally for the purpose of aiding in the production of accurate minutes.

Council members may request a copy of the recording (though these are normally deleted after minutes are agreed).

In practice, the press or other visitors will normally listen to the Council meeting via video conference.

Where meetings are being held virtually, the chair of the meeting will be able to see who is in attendance on screen and will ensure that anyone not entitled to attend confidential business has left before the matter is discussed.

Observers may only attend for confidential business if Council has given its permission, and the observer has been informed of the duty of confidentiality.