Historic moment as Lubna Shuja becomes first Asian and first Muslim president of the Law Society
Lubna Shuja was inaugurated as the 178th, first Asian, first Muslim and seventh female president of the Law Society of England and Wales in its 200-year history today (12 October 2022).
This is the first time in the organisation’s history there will be two consecutive women presidents.
Lubna’s accession is especially significant as the profession will celebrate 100 years since the first woman – Carrie Morrison – was admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales in December 1922.
Admitted as a solicitor in 1992, Lubna is a sole practitioner who specialises in professional discipline and regulation. She also has experience in contested wills and probate, divorce, child access, personal injury and contractual disputes.
Lubna has been a Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) accredited mediator since 2005. She handles civil, family, probate and commercial disputes.
Lubna has been a Law Society Council member since 2013 and is also a member of the Law Society Board. She was the inaugural chair of our Membership and Communications Committee and a past chair of our Strategic Litigation Committee.
“I am honoured to serve as Law Society president. I take on the role at a difficult time for the legal profession. The rule of law has been in the spotlight as never before in recent history. The UK’s economy is on a knife-edge and businesses are having to deal with rising interest rates and high inflation,” said Lubna Shuja.
“If the pandemic has proven one thing, however, it is that solicitors are resilient and adaptable. They keep the wheels of justice turning by providing services remotely, innovating at pace and ensuring the public can get the justice they deserve.”
Lubna explains that her enthusiasm for the profession will drive her five main priorities. “My plan focuses on improving the justice system, upholding the rule of law and supporting our members.”
Committing to behave ethically is at the heart of what it means to be a solicitor and Lubna is launching a major focus on ethics in the profession.
“Solicitors have integrity, are independent and abide by the laws democratically set by Parliament. They also have a role to play ensuring the UK government acts lawfully.
“Solicitors’ primary duty is always to the court and they must act in the best interests of their client. Parts of the profession have been unfairly criticised in the past for representing their clients and doing their job. These criticisms have become more pronounced in recent years, directed at lawyers practising in areas as diverse as immigration and financial services.
“As president, I intend to launch a major focus on ethics in the profession to support solicitors though this minefield. This will help the public to understand the finely balanced professional ethical issues solicitors weigh up on a daily basis to ensure the rule of law is upheld,” she said.
Educating the public
Lubna plans to actively talk about justice, the solicitor profession and why they are important to the public.
Lubna Shuja points out: “The rule of law is vital to society and democracy. I strongly believe the public should know more about what it does for them and why it is important in their day-to-day lives.
“Amid the cost-of-living crisis, the public must be able to easily access early legal advice, support and representation.”
Improving diversity across the profession and judiciary
Lubna will continue to work on improving diversity, social mobility and social inclusion in the profession.
“I am the first Asian, first Muslim and only the seventh female president of the Law Society. I am a Northerner, originally from Bradford, and I am from a working-class background. Diversity, social mobility and social inclusion are very important to me.
“I want to understand better the barriers that firms and businesses are facing when trying to reach and promote diverse candidates as well as identify the challenges facing those seeking to enter and progress through the sector.
“More must also be done to achieve true gender parity in terms of pay and progression.
“2022 is a landmark year for me and for women solicitors. I will celebrate 30 years as a solicitor in the same month that we mark 100 years since the first woman was admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales.
“We have seen real progress in diversity in the sector in that time, but there is still more to do. We will also continue to support members seeking to become judges as well as those wishing to progress to the senior ranks of the judiciary.
“We must work on promoting alternative careers, including pathways to becoming a judge and progressing in the judiciary. I will work with our Solicitor Judges Network, the Ministry of Justice, senior judges and other stakeholders to further open up the judicial ladder,” she said.
Notes to editors
The Law Society has three elected office holders: the president, vice president and deputy vice president. They each hold office for one year.
Each year the Council elects the deputy vice president; the previous year's deputy vice president becomes the vice president and the vice president becomes president.
The handover takes place at the annual general meeting – held this year on 12 October.
The office holders are the Law Society's main ambassadors and represent the organisation at home and abroad.
The office of president is a full-time appointment and the president is chair of the Law Society Council, the governing body of the Law Society.
The Law Society’s office holder line up is completed by vice president Nick Emmerson and deputy vice president Richard Atkinson.
Photos of the office holders are available on request.
About the Law Society
The Law Society is the independent professional body that works globally to support and represent solicitors, promoting the highest professional standards, the public interest and the rule of law.
Press office contact: Naomi Jeffreys | 0208 049 3928