The presidential year 2023/24 will be an important year for our profession, the legal services sector and the justice system.

This plan supports the delivery of our business plan 2023/24, the corporate plan 2022/25 and the organisation’s member offer.

The 2023/24 year contains several important events that will have an impact on the Law Society, solicitors and the future of our profession. These include:

An upcoming general election

As we look to the future, we must grasp immediate opportunities to influence the shape of our justice system and advocate for the impact that solicitors have on international and domestic trade.

We know that an election must be called by the end of 2024.

This is a prime opportunity to secure commitments from major political parties to upholding the rule of law and access to justice and ensuring a sustainable future for the legal system in England and Wales.

Civil legal aid review

The government’s civil legal aid review is due to conclude in March 2024 and we continue to fight to secure fair funding for criminal legal aid.

Celebrating 20 years of the Diversity Access Scheme

Since 2004, our Diversity Access Scheme has given many talented people an opportunity to enter the law that they otherwise would have missed out on.

Past awardees have gone on to be presidents of local law societies, law centre directors and even judges. We must celebrate these successes which continue to inspire others.

200-year anniversary of the Law Society

At the end of 2024 we enter our bicentennial year, marking the Law Society’s 200-year anniversary.

This will be a moment to reflect on the achievements of solicitors past and present, and to envisage and inspire the future.

These events and key milestones will bring a number of challenges. However, there are also significant opportunities for the legal profession.

Over the year, the Law Society will play a crucial part in shaping and contributing towards these.

Presidential year themes

The Law Society’s objectives are to promote the value of the profession, protect the justice system and support our members. This plan supports those objectives.

Its success will demonstrate that we are outward-facing and internationally-minded, using our influence to secure commitments to the rule of law and access to justice, as well as a sustainable future for the legal system in England and Wales.

Each area speaks to the diversity, complexity and strength of our solicitor profession and highlights the essential role solicitors play in our economy and society.

The three themes are:

  1. our profession as an economic powerhouseSolicitors help power the UK economy by underpinning our international and domestic trade and being a core component of our international reputation as a great place to do business.
  2. the value our profession brings locallySolicitor firms provide local expertise and high-quality jobs and prospects for young people, in every town and city across England and Wales.
  3. the value our profession provides individuals within wider societyWe uphold the laws that bind society together and ensure that justice is done, helping everyone in society navigate through some of the most complex and difficult times in their lives. We serve all corners of society and contribute each day to upholding the rule of law and providing on the ground access to justice.

1. Our profession as an economic powerhouse

Solicitors help power the UK economy by underpinning our international and domestic trade and being a core component of our international reputation as a great place to do business.

Our legal system is a true global brand, recognised and respected the world over. It remains central to the UK’s place on the international stage.

The world trusts the stability and quality of our courts and tribunals, our arbitration and mediation centres, English and Welsh law and our legal professionals.

We cannot uphold this without the work of our private practice and in-house solicitor members on the ground, reaching into every high street, town and city in our jurisdiction and beyond to the world’s major cities, providing the hidden wiring that underpins the UK’s economy.

The president will continue the work of his predecessors as a champion of our domestic legal services sector, promoting England and Wales as an open and welcoming jurisdiction committed to excellence in legal services and the rule of law.

Further to this, the president will support our members and member firms practising, or wishing to practise, internationally, all who face unique challenges and opportunities working in overseas jurisdictions but all of which highlights the international demand for and quality of English and Welsh solicitors and the value they bring to clients and communities not just within our own jurisdiction, but to other jurisdictions too.

The president will:

  • highlight the benefits that having an international practice brings to firms and to support members who want to access international markets but do not currently feel able to do so. This includes:
    • launching an international member offer that will empower members to take advantage of our international work
    • promoting international opportunities to our members, utilising regional engagements to develop relationships and opportunities between our members and international firms
    • ensuring that international events feel open and accessible to members by ensuring the Law Society has a strong presence at these events and providing guidance and support for first-time attendees on the best way to take advantage of any networks and connections made
  • strengthen relations with our counterparts in East Asia through trade missions and engagement with foreign bar associations
  • reaffirm our commitment to England and Wales’s role as one of the world’s favoured jurisdictions by launching our bicentennial celebrations alongside international partners
  • continue to uphold the international rule of law, by:
    • championing the initiative of the CCBE’s European Convention on the Profession of Lawyer, which aims to guarantee the proper administration of justice and the respect of the rule of law throughout Europe
    • hosting discussions with parliamentarians, Foreign Office officials and lawyers at risk regarding ongoing issues in key jurisdictions

By the end of his presidential term, the president will have undertaken international trips to key jurisdictions from the US to Japan, where he will have spoken to members about the value that our new international offer can bring to them.

The Law Society will have begun bicentennial celebrations, with the president and office holder team spearheading the launch.

We will have commemorated the Day of the Endangered Lawyer by continuing dialogue with lawyers at risk, in line with our international aims and objectives.

2. The value our profession brings locally

Solicitor firms provide local expertise and high-quality jobs and prospects for our people in every town and city across England and Wales.

Every solicitor, whether on the frontline of legal aid or delivering cross-border corporate deals, plays a role in our legal ecosystem and a role in ensuring a great British success story.

The president will visit and listen to solicitors based in all corners of England and Wales and make sure that those voices on the ground and local success stories are being heard on the national stage.

Local law societies also help provide a key link between the Law Society of England and Wales and members. As a past president of Leeds Law Society, the president is a champion for the positive role that local law societies can play for members.

The president will work closely with local law societies, assisting them in adding value for members, as well as recognising the key issues and concerns that they face.

This is particularly important as we see further attacks on the profession by those with power and influence. The president will continue to defend solicitors and challenge the criticism that many are facing for simply doing their jobs.

With a general election on the horizon, it is more important than ever to champion our profession and defend the legal sector’s reputation against political attacks.

The president will:

  • advocate for the value that solicitors add to every part of England and Wales to stakeholders in government, Parliament and other external stakeholders, not just for the role they play in providing access to justice but also as a successful business sector
  • bring together decision-makers and influencers from across the sector and government to discuss the key challenges and solutions facing the legal sector today
  • continue to support ongoing campaigns around reframing justice, ethics and 21st century justice, including promoting relevant research and guidance published to support firms and members
  • use member’s case studies, stories and examples of best practice to promote the value of the profession to decision makers and stakeholders and get their voices heard on a national stage
  • continue to work closely with members in Wales and the National Board for Wales to contribute to the discussions on the future direction, shape and administration of justice in Wales

By the end of his term, the president will have used his influence with a wide range of national stakeholders and government to advocate for the profession, make the case for commitments to the rule of law and access to justice, and challenge damaging rhetoric around solicitors.

He will have hosted ministers, opposition politicians and thought leaders in the legal sector to inform our policy development and gather input on newly emerging issues.

The president will have attended at least 50 engagements with members up and down the country, hearing about the opportunities and challenges they face in the coming years, and used his profile to highlight these issues in local and national media.

3. The value our profession provides individuals within our wider society

Solicitors uphold the laws that bind our society together and ensure justice is done, helping everyone in society navigate through some of the most complex and difficult times in their lives.

We serve all corners of society and contribute each day to upholding the rule of law and providing on the ground access to justice.

The idea of access to justice cannot be taken for granted. It is precious and relies on investment in a justice system that is available for all.

Whether someone is facing eviction, protecting a business or dealing with a family breakdown, the legal profession provides justice that allows individuals to regain control and resolve the issues that have the potential to negatively impact their lives.

The president will use his term to campaign on legal aid deserts and on accessible advice that all people are legally entitled to, in all parts of England and Wales.

He will lead on our response to the civil legal aid review and continue our fight to restore fair funding to the criminal legal aid system.

Alongside these, the president will work with firms and law centres to raise awareness of existing pro bono initiatives and public legal education work being undertaken by our strategic partners.

Part of providing value to individuals and access to justice means ensuring the complexity and diversity of the profession accurately reflects the people it serves, from the high street to the high court.

The president will support and prioritise diversity and inclusion work throughout his year, particularly those initiatives linked to social mobility and judicial diversity.

Further to this, he will create an advisory group of art and heritage experts to provide guidance on the best way to modernise our portraiture collection at 113 Chancery Lane.

Over half of our members are women and many members come from many different ethnic and social backgrounds, but the Law Society Hall does not currently reflect the vibrancy and diversity of our members.

The president will:

  • campaign to tackle the backlogs in our courts, making sure that courtrooms are fit for purpose and that justice can be delivered for victims, defendants and witnesses
  • encourage law firms to set targets on senior level socio-economic diversity, in line with the recommendations set by the Socio-Economic Diversity Taskforce that the Law Society contributed towards
  • collaborate with existing partners to support students and young people from lower socio-economic backgrounds into the profession
  • advocate for the Judicial Diversity Forum to implement meaningful, measurable outcomes to ensure that all activity they undertake makes an impact on improving diversity within the judiciary

By the end of his term, the president will have positioned the Law Society as thought leaders on diversity in the profession, influencing the judiciary and large firms to go further and faster in achieving their diversity goals.

He will have participated in Pro Bono Week events on behalf of the Law Society and made the case to managing partners in each region for setting social mobility targets.

The president will have commemorated 20 years of our Diversity Access Scheme at a celebratory event at 113 Chancery Lane, bringing together former recipients of the award and exploring how the scheme could evolve over the next 20 years.