Business plan summary 2020/21

Foreword

I. Stephanie BoyceThe Law Society is run by and for our members. We exist to be the voice of solicitors, to drive excellence in the profession and to safeguard the rule of law.

We work to support an ethical profession delivering high-quality legal services in the public interest.

This business plan sets out how your professional body will work to support the profession as a whole and help our individual members in preparing for and dealing with change, supporting your practice excellence and being a companion at every stage in your career.

You can see more on our website or by following us on social media.

I. Stephanie Boyce
Law Society president

Our plans for 2020/21 have been developed in three steps:

  • reviewing our operating environment and, from that analysis, deriving the issues that drive our business for the coming year
  • on the basis of that analysis identifying our priorities for the coming year, the outcomes we will look to achieve and the metrics against which we will measure progress
  • providing details of the strategies, actions and tactics we will use to deliver the business plan throughout the year

Delivering for our members in an unprecedented year

In a year dominated by the COVID-19 crisis, we worked harder than ever, engaging with, listening to and working alongside members to navigate a shifting business and economic environment.

All teams rose to the challenge of working remotely and adopted new ways of working that have improved our service for members, ensuring we delivered information, guidance and advice quickly and secured important policy changes.

Our members responded positively and looked to us to support them across the regulatory, staff, business and safety issues they faced.

The events of 2020 highlighted just how important the ongoing transformation programme has been to enable the Law Society to respond to its members on COVID issues and more widely. This has been a year of learning for the Law Society and we will embed these new approaches in future years.

Our work for members has been dominated by COVID for much of 2020. Successes in this area included:

  • joining forces with other practitioner groups, we influenced protocols in court, police stations and prisons to ensure our members could continue to keep the wheels of justice turning and were safe when doing so
  • the government accepted our definition as to which lawyers should count as key workers – allowing solicitors' children to attend school and enabling members to continue working
  • we successfully pressed the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for flexibility and guidance on how members could comply with duties whilst social distancing and to take a proportionate approach to enforcement
  • securing many changes to ensure members could get on with business whilst working remotely. For example, the Legal Aid Agency changed its rules so that solicitors would be paid properly for attending interviews remotely, the Land Registry confirmed that it would accept Mercury signatures, and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and SRA agreed that our practical suggestions on virtual execution for commercial transactions were appropriate given the constraints in existing legislation
  • on domestic abuse, we ensured that guidance for unrepresented applicants for emergency injunctions was amended to consider the position of people trapped with their alleged abuser
  • engaging a record number of solicitors with our content. In the three months from 10 March 2020, our COVID-19 web content was viewed more than 500,000 times; the Gazette set a new record for unique pageviews, with 169,000 in a single week in March and we responded to nearly 2000 queries from members
  • we delivered targeted support for members under the most financial pressure through heavy discounts on accreditations and making most events free
  • we joined forces with business interest groups to successfully argue for loans to be available for large firms unable to access the Bank of England COVID-19 scheme and for the British Business Bank to relax its restrictive security criteria by not seeking guarantees for loans under £250k and not taking security over an applicant’s primary residence for larger loans

Beyond COVID, the public policy environment remained challenging for members, we have worked with them to achieve the following key successes:

  • as a result of our policy and lobbying, the SRA abandoned its proposed reforms of professional indemnity insurance (PII). This avoided the implementation of proposals that could have weakened the protection that solicitors and consumers receive, without seeing any reduction in premiums
  • our Welsh team re-energised and improved stakeholder relationships on behalf of the profession in Wales, ensuring we are a key voice and influence in relation to the Wales Commission on Justice
  • we supported our members to understand the practising regime in EU jurisdictions after Brexit; persuaded the Government to apply to the Lugano Convention to ensure judgments are recognised and enforced, and persuaded key EU member states (such as France) to take measures to support the continued practice of UK members after the transition period
  • to protect market access, we ensured the legal services sector’s priorities are reflected in ongoing free trade agreement (FTA) negotiations, including the recently agreed FTA with Japan which creates a platform for ongoing dialogue on legal services
  • working with the profession to influence the Criminal Legal Aid Review “accelerated items” process, we secured additional payments for criminal legal aid for the first time in over 20 years, including persuading the MoJ to double the fee initially proposed for cases “sent” to the Crown Court
  • following our advice deserts campaign, the MoJ has agreed to review the sustainability of the civil legal aid system
  • we raised the profile of the profession and the issues we care about by appearing in 212 broadcasts since the start of November 2019. Our Twitter thread in defence of the rule of law, after the release of a Home Office video condemning “activist lawyers”, was liked by nearly 30,000 people

Organisational capability

We have continued to drive the transformation programme forward and make changes to how we work as this underpins an efficient and effective organisation focusing on member value.

The main achievements this year are as follows:

  • the foundation of the Member Experience transformation programme was completed with a new customer relationship management (CRM) system, learning management system and website platform launched to members to improve the look, feel and performance of our member-facing services
  • completion of the phase one refurbishment of 113 Chancery Lane and making excellent progress with phase two which should complete early in the next financial year
  • managing the fire in 114 and the lockdown. Organisational teams were up and running and there were no ‘down’ days with the Support Centre and Practice Advice Service open every day to members
  • a new vision and strategy agreed on member experience and our commercial approach
  • adopted new ways of working on member content and communication, to ensure that we could respond effectively to the pandemic on behalf of the membership; demonstrating agility, pace and relevance which we must retain
  • taking direct control of all aspects of HR and Finance removing the reliance on shared services staff but crucially enabling the Law Society to make operational decisions in these areas without having to first discuss and align them with the needs of the SRA

The last year has seen many successes and our ambition is to continuously improve our member services and the way we work. The following sections will outline some of those and our plans to achieve that improvement.

In 2020/21, there will be further uncertainty for the economy, for the profession and the Law Society.

An assessment of the operating environment from a number of sources (below) tells us that our focus needs to be on increasing member awareness and engagement with the Law Society, and that our service offer needs to be stronger – particularly when we know there will be members facing a range of new challenges, including redundancy, and we recognise that members may require different types of support from us. It is also clear that the Law Society will be operating in an increasingly challenging financial, political, regulatory and policy landscape.

Internally we must keep our focus on our modernisation programme, completing the Shaping our Future project including developing our member engagement strategy and the refurbishment of 113.

The key areas of analysis are as follows.

Member survey results

The annual member survey shows that overall satisfaction levels have slipped back to levels last recorded in 2016.

We know that overall satisfaction levels are higher amongst members who are more engaged with the Law Society and the survey showed that satisfaction is relatively higher amongst members from small to medium-sized (SME) private practices (who are more likely to have made use of the services and benefits available from the Law Society), government and other in-house organisations, junior-level solicitors and those from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background.

Members from larger firms, commerce and industry organisations, and those in more senior positions are less satisfied overall with the Law Society.

The survey also reinforced the ongoing challenges we have in engaging, communicating and getting our message across to our members – with almost half of members not holding any ‘top of mind’ perceptions of the Law Society, and more than a quarter still view the organisation as a regulator for the sector.

As part of our response to COVID, we moved quickly to engage with members, speak visibly on their behalf, and provide resources and support. The ‘pulse’ survey issued in June 2020 has shown how this approach can shift member satisfaction in a very short time frame.

Satisfaction with the Law Society’s response to the crisis has been stronger than in the member survey at the start of 2020, with 58% of respondents rating the Law Society at least seven out of 10 (compared with 46% from the member survey). It was also very positive to see satisfaction being broadly similar across small and large firm segments and that 60% of large firms that responded reported a more positive perception.

We will need to develop our member offer so that it better meets the needs of our members, and refine our approach to member communications so that we can drive up member satisfaction.

Technology

In an ever-changing business climate, it seems inevitable that solicitors and lawyers face a future of change on a varied scale, depending on area of practice and client types.

Innovation in services and service delivery will become a key differentiating factor. It is more important than ever for legal professionals to have access to potential future states, and anticipate changes in client needs and the effects drivers such as technology may have on how they, their clients and regulators operate.

A recent report, Lawtech Adoption and Training: Findings from a Survey of Solicitors in England and Wales, produced by the University of Oxford in collaboration with the Law Society found:

  • the three most common contexts in which respondent lawyers use legal technology (lawtech) are “document/knowledge management” (80%), “accounts/time recording” (69%) and “document automation/matter workflow” (43%)
  • just under half of respondents said that their organisations understood the challenges for lawyers brought about by new technology. Only a fifth of respondents said their organisations captured data effectively, so it could be used by lawtech
  • half of respondents had received some lawtech training during the past three years. This was most commonly for specific software packages adopted by their employer (38%); less common was generic lawtech training, in matters such as “legal issues raised by use of technology” (12%) or “project management” (11%)
  • two-fifths (41%) of respondents said that they were sufficiently trained to use new technology at work. But four-fifths said that productivity at their organisation would improve if lawyers were trained further in how to use new technology

We will need to ensure that our members can access suitable advice and information so that they can utilise technology to support their various business models.

The economy

In January 2020, we published an independent assessment by KPMG of the gross economic and social contribution of the legal sector in the UK for the five-year period from 2014 to 2018.

As well as updating our previous 2016 analysis, this report also provided new insights covering additional areas of economic and social impact. The analysis shows that in 2018, the legal services sector contributed £60bn of gross value added (GVA) to the UK economy.

Since 2013, the GVA contribution of the sector has grown at a stronger rate than the growth of the whole UK economy (20% compared to just under 11%). Productivity of the sector has increased by 17%, from £84,000 per employee in 2014 to £105,500 per employee in 2018.

However, the outlook for the domestic economy remains uncertain, given the UK’s changing relationship with the EU and other trading partners.

Brexit is likely to have a significant negative effect on the legal sector in the medium and longer term. This reflects the knock-on impact on the wider economy as demand for legal services is mainly a derived demand.

In addition, across the business and professional services sectors in the UK, the legal services sector had the highest balance of trade. Nevertheless, 48% of current exports are to the EU.

Any change in London’s position as a key global financial centre due to Brexit would have a detrimental effect on the wider economy including legal services.

However, City law firms are generally well equipped to adapt and, if necessary, move their operations from the UK to an EU state. This means that Brexit will potentially have a much bigger impact on medium-sized firms than on the larger City firms themselves.

Brexit is not the only threat facing the economy; the coronavirus outbreak will substantially raise public sector net borrowing and debt, primarily reflecting economic disruption.

The government’s policy response will also have substantial direct budgetary costs, but the measures should help limit the long-term damage to the economy and public finances – the costs of inaction would certainly have been higher. The Office for Budget Responsibility estimates a 12.4% fall in real GDP in 2020 compared to 2019, with an unemployment rate of up to 11.9%.

We will need to continue the work started during COVID to provide relevant business advice and lobbying activity where appropriate to ensure that firms can access any future economic government initiatives.

Future shape and profile of the profession

The legal services sector supported approximately 552,000 full-time equivalent jobs (FTEs) in 2018. The chart below shows the breakdown by job type.


Overall employment levels have been stagnant in the five years between 2013 and 2018 with a 0.5% decrease. This is likely to continue, with job losses in support roles continuing as automation and the adoption of new systems continues to gain pace.

Our Futures and Insight team estimate that in the next three to five years, due to the adoption of new technology employment in the UK legal services sector could be 1–1.5% lower than it would otherwise have been (5,000–8,000 fewer full-time equivalent jobs).

Technological unemployment in the legal profession has also been predicted by other commentators, starting with routine jobs and individuals performing low-skilled, standardised legal work and, in the long term, moving up the value chain.

Alongside less emphasis on the partnership model, expansion of the freelance economy is set with technological advances to drive changes to ways in which legal services are delivered – requiring adaptation from lawyers and their businesses. The new skills and aptitudes of solicitors required to deliver services differently implies alternative approaches to legal education and training.

The approaches may need to reflect solicitors being permitted to practice from a broader range of non-regulated entities (the current SRA proposal), such that entrepreneurship, creativity and strategic-thinking skills could assume more significance in education and recruitment.

Challenges in developing future senior solicitors and legal business leaders are then around upskilling in communication, change management, influencing and people management.

During the last decade there have also been notable changes in the make-up of the profession (source: Annual Statistics Report); in particular:

  • women with practising certificates outnumber men by nearly 4,000, and account for 51% of practising certificate (PC) holders
  • representation of BAME groups make up 14% of all PC holders
  • the proportion of solicitors working in-house is now 23%, but this is likely an underestimate where some PC holders recorded as not attached to an organisation are working in-house
  • 27% of PC holders are under 35. The mean age of women is 42 and for men it is 47
  • there were 9,867 private practice firms in England and Wales. 45% of firms are sole ownership but account for only 9% of PC holders. In comparison only 5% of firms have 11 or more partners and these account for 52% of PC holders

We will continue to monitor the make-up of the profession on an annual basis so that we can respond accordingly and this informs development of our priorities and member offer.

Competition and the regulatory landscape

Greater levels of competition in many parts of the legal services market are likely to result from:

  • regulatory reform (generally liberalisation efforts)
  • increased use of technology
  • more flexibility in ownership models and how solicitors can deliver services

Technology is one contributor to changes in the way buyers purchase legal services which, along with wider consumer trends and expectations, is likely to enhance competition in terms of price and/or quality of services.

We expect the regulators and policy makers to consider whether and how regulation needs to be adapted to promote access to justice and protect the public against harm.

In particular, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has recently launched a review that will evaluate the implementation of the recommendations from its 2016 market study. The focus is on the impact of transparency remedies, and whether they had any effect on improving market competition (for example, the extent of shopping around and price reduction). This could impact on many of our members in terms of what they might be required to undertake should new requirements be introduced.

If approved, the Solicitors Qualifying Examination will significantly change routes into the profession. The need to promote greater diversity, whilst maintaining high standards in the profession, will require work from the regulators, the Law Society and the profession.

The Law Society will have to respond to changes introduced by the Legal Services Board (LSB) with regard to the PC fee application which is likely to mean a requirement for three-year budgets and business plans in the future.

The political agenda

Continued efforts by the UK government to reduce the fiscal deficit – coupled with the need to deal with the increasing costs of the UK government’s response to COVID – are likely to mean further downward pressure on funding for the justice system. This will have potentially serious implications for our members and for access to justice.

We had been pleased to see the UK government commit to various reviews of areas which desperately needed attention. The Criminal Legal Aid review is ongoing, and we will continue to make the case for a sustainably funded justice system.

The UK government has also committed to look at the means test for legal aid and the potential of providing funding for early legal advice. However, in light of COVID, there is a danger that these reviews may be delayed, and the affordability may be questioned once again.

With the EU transition period set to come to an end in December, firms are facing a significant loss of market access in European markets, for which they have been making arrangements. In addition, the question of recognition and enforcement of judgments must be addressed, to ensure that England and Wales can continue to be a global legal centre.

Of most concern is the recent spate of political or media attacks on the rule of law. Promoting and defending the rule of law will be a key part of what the Law Society stands for over the next 12 months, as it is a core value underlying both our justice system and our economy.

We will continue our campaigning and lobbying on areas that are seen as priorities for the profession and the rule of law.

Operational capability

We have made improvements in how we operate internally; without the significant investment in IT in the past few years, it's unlikely that we would have been able to respond to the unpredictable events of 2020.

Further change will be required in our operating environment, however, to ensure that we continue to build the capacity and infrastructure required to deliver a significantly improved member experience.

In terms of our staff, we know that we have a committed and talented staff group, and that many of the changes implemented in the last 12 months have contributed to the organisation’s successes. We have seen an improvement in our Investors in People score and feedback from recent staff surveys indicate that they have felt well supported during lockdown.

Nonetheless there is further progress to be made as we consider how to respond to the post-COVID world. We will need to reconsider our approach to how we manage our staff and assess our approach to attracting and retaining talent as the expectations and priorities of the working population change.

We will need a much tougher focus on budgets, cost and use of resources to reflect the changes of the economy impacting on commercial income and the need to invest every pound wisely to deliver maximum value for our members.

We have stated our ambition to be a diverse and inclusive organisation and, in the light of Black Lives Matter and staff feedback, we will need to assess our approach to equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) and the actions that we can take to improve the diversity across the organisation.

Both staff and elected and appointed members will have to be increasingly aware of the financial pressures that we will face. Not only will we see a drop in PC fee income, but we know that there will be significant challenges for our commercial income streams.

From the analysis we can derive the priorities that will drive our business and our performance for the coming year.

These are:

  • enhancing our communications impact to change perception, awareness, knowledge, engagement and sense of belonging with the Law Society
  • building an even stronger member offer, focused on the key needs of our members
  • driving personalisation so that we can extract greater value from digital engagement with members
  • in light of the economic challenges, refreshing our approach to commercial income related to events, sponsorship, partnerships as some businesses struggle and discretionary spend falls
  • delivering a focused policy agenda that responds to the issues that we know most affect our members and the rule of law
  • refocusing our engagement with a range of stakeholders to ensure that we promote the profession and influence the political and regulatory environment in the interests of our members
  • delivery of an approved target operating model; balancing the need to deliver internal change with the need to continue to respond to external pressures and the needs of our members
  • continuation of our change programme to ensure that we invest in continuous improvement in the Law Society

To deliver our priorities there will be five key areas of focus (listed below):

Member Experience transformation

We have invested significantly through the Shaping our Future programme to create the foundations that will enable us to become a more member-centric organisation. Member experience (MX) transformation will now build on that, setting out a roadmap for delivery which will bring together a number of strands:

  • we'll establish a single member view and data strategy to support targeted engagement and vital insight on our members, to enable us to better identify what our members need and adapt or develop products and services
  • from using our improved member insight, past insight and previous strategic pieces of work, we'll define a member value proposition and further develop our member offer, including reviewing and improving our member journeys
  • we'll also look to enhance our current internal processes for the benefit of our members; for instance introducing new ways of working on how we prioritise, manage and publish our content across the organisation, based on the processes we developed for supporting our members during the COVID-19 epidemic, and improvements in how we identify, develop and deliver new products and services for the benefit of our members

At the same time, the work on improving the way we deliver online services to members, initiated within Shaping our Future, will be completed in 2021. This will include:

  • the three foundation projects that underpin the MX workstream – the website, CRM, and the learning and development (L&D) platform – are all now live and operational. We'll build on this foundation and introduce new and enhanced functionality for our members, including a new webinar solution for events and digital onboarding process for accreditations, starting with the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS)
  • Law Society Learning will help us transform how we offer education to our members. It is a huge part of the work we’re doing to improve the experience our members have with us, helping them to see the value of their Law Society membership
  • Law Society Learning currently comprises 15 brand new e-learning courses, based on compliance and in-house topics. Most of the courses will be bite-sized, as members told us they need learning to be accessible. We’ve also launched one risk-based accreditation for some selected individuals

Commercial strategy

We'll continue to build our commercial capability, with commercial and partnerships focusing on continuing to integrate the commercial strategy into the wider MX strategy to ensure member benefits are enhanced and both industry and external stakeholder voices are bought into the engagement model with our membership.

Alongside this, we will further develop existing and new commercial income sources. Throughout autumn 2021, we'll be reviewing resources and processes to ensure we build commercial capability.

We will continue to develop and refine the commercial strategy in line with the approach agreed with the Board, with primary focus on:

  • onboarding new commercial partners who add value to our interaction with members (based on member insight) and who assist us transition from less productive legacy partnerships. Currently in process for example: Dell to assist with technology insights and Tilney to assist members with private client wealth management services
  • modernising our advertising proposition, expanding our offer across our digital communications channels to enhance income and mitigate the downturn in discretionary advertising spend
  • supporting phase II L&D transformation, developing a new e-commerce capability and assisting the development of new curricula which support the expansion of accreditations
  • complete the accreditations review and five-year roadmap, and begin the development of new accreditations with at least two new accreditations in place during 2020/21 (currently under evaluation)
  • leverage the opportunity from overhauling the forms/licensing contractual model and exploring the commercial digitisation of associated legal services, such as conveyancing via third party commercial partnerships
  • maximise commercial opportunity from events transition to digital/hybrid models using newly implemented events platforms and increasing contribution from the reduction in face-to-face events

Subject themes

With financial pressures and feedback from members indicating that we need to do fewer things better, we are continuing to prioritise a number of subject area themes.

The selection of those themes is based on insight gained from the member survey, pulse surveys undertaken during COVID and feedback from Membership and Communications Committee (MCC) / Policy and Regulatory Affairs Committee (PRAC) awayday and a further PRAC discussion. The themes are chosen on the basis that they are subjects where:

  • we believe the Law Society should be known for by our members
  • we have significant expertise
  • we are recognised as a leading voice

Successful delivery of the work planned under the themes relies on collaborative working across the organisation as the policy and member issues are strongly connected. All themes will be supported by communication and engagement plans to ensure that the work we do is promoted to our members and the influencing we do on behalf of our members is as targeted as possible.

We will work to:

Promote access to justice

The MoJ is conducting vital reviews into the sustainability of legal aid practice, the means test, and the role of information, advice and representation.

We want to ensure that the outcomes of these reviews deliver clear benefits for our members and their clients. We want to ensure that the courts continue to function during the pandemic and emerge from the other side modernised but without compromising justice outcomes.

Uphold the rule of law

The Law Society will take its place at the forefront of efforts to protect the rule of law from potential threats, both domestically and internationally.

In particular, we aim to ensure that government plans to reform judicial review and the human rights framework do not have a detrimental effect on access to justice, or on the wider integrity of our constitution with its careful balancing of legislative, executive and judicial roles.

We will also work to enhance decision-makers’ commitment to protect lawyers’ independence and safety, both around the world and in England and Wales, for example by continuing to defend the scope of legal professional privilege. We will also bring our members’ expertise to bear on major planned law reforms that will have a significant impact on the rights of vulnerable people.

Support the international practice of law

In the year that the EU transition period ends, the Law Society will ensure that our international firms and members have the information they need to adapt their businesses.

We will continue to seek liberalisation of key markets in the EU and globally, through dialogue with overseas bars and through the opportunities that an independent UK trade policy regime creates.

We will press for a rapid accession to the Lugano Convention, to ensure the best possible regime for recognition and enforcement of judgments. We will work with members, the government and judiciary to preserve and strengthen the qualities that make England and Wales uniquely attractive as a global legal centre.

Influence regulation and money laundering rules and supporting the profession to comply

We will seek to ensure members’ risk and compliance needs, especially in relation to AML, are fully understood and they have the right support products in place to help them.

We will seek to influence the LSB planned review of reserved activities, the outcome of the CMA’s review and the government’s economic crime levy to ensure that our policy positions are well reflected in the final outcomes.

Promote a modern, diverse and inclusive profession

We will work with others to develop a strong understanding of what the current challenges and opportunities are to widening access to the profession, ensuring that the introduction of SQE is positive for social mobility, and a good platform from which to enable talented individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds to enter the profession.

We will challenge and support members to ensure recommendations from recent projects on gender, race and disability are being acted upon, and focus on encouraging more inclusive cultures within the profession

Support the economic value and viability of member’s businesses

We will work to ensure that our members feel that the Law Society “have their back” and that their businesses are supported during a turbulent economic period, with us being seen as strong advocates of the profession and its importance to the economic recovery.

Our work on technology and influencing legislation (affecting both businesses generally and the legal sector) will generate helpful resources, enabling firms of all sizes to focus their resources on their practice areas and deliver high levels of service to their clients.

Non-priority subjects

We will still work on other practice areas but with limited resource for example providing guidance on areas of law/practice, where there is an unanticipated development and member demand.

If there are unexpected events or changes in demand, just as with COVID, we will review our priorities and adapt accordingly, while continuing to work within current resources.

Further details of the work to be undertaken for each subject theme are provided at Annex 1.

Strengthening our capacity to deliver through Shaping our Future

In 2018 we launched the Shaping our Future programme which aimed to modernise the Law Society, two elements of this work will continue during 2020:

  • WorkSmart, creating a vibrant, professional and efficient working environment that allows us to work more flexibly, creatively and collaboratively together to deliver what our members say they need from us
  • Digital Workplace, creating powerful ways to work together, share information and collaborate, and help us all get the most out of our Microsoft Office 365 tools

Worksmart

We know that there is more we need to do internally to enable our staff to work productively and therefore we are continuing to introduce a number of improvements to our financial management and having successfully consolidated all of our finance operations into one team based in London, we will begin the implementation of a new finance solution.

As part of this implementation we will work with colleagues across the business to review and streamline those processes that impact business users and members, for instance how we currently transact business with our members, and the implementation of an ecommerce solution.

Having already consolidated human resources functions into London and delivered a new HR System, iTrent, we will begin the second phase of the HR transformation by introducing a number of key capabilities such as enhanced learning and development and performance management, to support the adoption of the HR target operating model.

This work will culminate in the launch of the new finance system on 1 November 2021 - the start of the new financial year.

Digital Workplace

The Digital Workplace programme is the foundational work needed to create secure and flexible ways to work together, share information, collaborate, and to help us all get the most out of our Microsoft Office 365 tools.

Detailed discovery and design will be completed in 2020. Next year the implementation will drive the following key objectives:

  • completing the implementation of enhanced collaborative technologies such as SharePoint and Teams, which will include deploying information management and compliance tools across the business to assist with our governance and compliance requirements
  • provide process automation capabilities that can help our staff transform their business processes including those that directly service our members
  • provide enterprise grade search that covers multiple platforms, to help staff find content reliably and quickly

These changes will enable greater collaboration in delivering information for members with a high degree of confidence in the accuracy, inclusion of relevant content from across the Law Society and security of the distribution within and beyond the Law Society.

Investing in our people

During 2020/21, we will fully embed our new HR system and its capabilities. This combined with a remodelled HR business partner approach will support the development of our managers to be more self-sufficient and to develop our workforce planning approach.

In addition, we will also:

  • develop our approach to identifying, developing and retaining future talent
  • develop our approach to “future ways of working” and seek to maximise the learnings and benefits as a result of the pandemic. Develop flexible working practices and the creation of hybrid way of working
  • future proofing organisational capability with more focus on building digital and commercial skills and supporting continuous improvement and collaborative working
  • develop our EDI strategy and approach through gathering insight from our staff. Ensure we create an open culture of respect and dignity for all, able to engage in positive and open discussions about race and racism and to take action to remove racial inequality in the organisation
  • reward and recognition – review our existing offer and approach
  • enable leaders, people managers staff and EAMs to create a working environment together where they can role model our behaviours and be their best

 

We have developed a budget which will enable us to deliver our priorities.

Since 2017/18, we have used a balanced scorecard as a key tool to track and manage business performance, providing updates to the executive and the Board. This will continue in 2020/21 and more detail is provided in part two of the business plan, including details of key measures.

In addition to this:

  • all teams will have local plans that map out their key priorities for the year, identifying how their work will support the business plan. These plans will inform staff objectives and will be reviewed by line managers on a regular basis
  • progress against the subject themes will be reviewed on a quarterly basis by the leadership team (updates on the themes will be a regular feature of the CEO report to Council)
  • the SOF and Membership Transformation programmes will be managed as projects with regular reporting on progress, planned work, spend and risk. Reports will be provided to the Board as appropriate

We will report quarterly on progress to the Board and update on theme plan progress via the CEO report to Council.

We are facing an unprecedent level of uncertainty and risk as we plan for the future.

Building on our strategic and operational risk registers we have identified what we believe will be the key risks that may inhibit our ability to deliver our plans for the coming year.

We have produced a suite of documents to describe how we will address the coming year.

For members, our analysis is derived directly from their feedback highlighting important issues, areas of concerns and asks of the Law Society, and our response is focused on making a difference to them and to access to justice and the rule of law.

For the Law Society, we are focused on improving our offer to members increasing engagement and communications and delivering the internal changes and investment necessary to drive real and successful change.

The coming year will be challenging, and our role is to rise to the challenge and be there for members in what will undoubtedly be a difficult year for them.

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