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The year ahead

09 July 2015

It is both an honour and privilege to become the 171st president of the Law Society of England and Wales. There is a tradition for each president to present to the Law Society’s Council a ‘Presidential Plan’, setting out my priorities for next year. You can see my plan on the website, so please take a look if you have a moment. There are three main areas which will be the focus of my presidency: the rule of law, access to justice and conveyancing and land law.

Protecting the rule of law

Our profession is integral to the British business way of life. All our citizens having access to justice, and the advice and guidance offered to business, contribute to our economic prosperity. During my presidency I will promote the strength and the importance that our legal institutions play in economic growth and stability. Irrespective of our area of practice, we all make a contribution through our professional activities. It is our profession and our law society.

Regulation will continue to be a headline issue for our profession. I will champion the importance of proper, proportionate and fair regulation so that we can continue to thrive and support wider economic growth.

I will continue to promote internationally England an Wales as the jurisdiction of choice for legal business, including pressing the government to have legal representation on international trade missions, as well as the opportunity to meet with foreign trade missions when they come to England and Wales.

I will continue to drive forward the Law Society’s work protecting, promoting and enhancing human rights both at home and abroad. I look forward to learning what the government’s proposals on human rights legislation may be, and make clear the importance of our continued relationship with the European Court of Human Rights to our international standing.

Protecting fairness by ensuring everyone has access to justice

I begin my presidency as our country has not only a financial deficit but a real justice deficit. I will continue to make the case, to the government, to the Courts and through the media that we need a properly funded justice system and that to deliver this there must be a return of funding in some areas. I will also explore other ways in which we might support vulnerable people to access justice, as is their right.

At the heart of my work on this subject is a recognition that the Law Society and the profession needs to be forward thinking and that we ensure that the profession is at the centre of these discussions.

Conveyancing and land law

My final core theme is conveyancing and land law. I have practised in this area for over 30 years. As a senior partner of a firm in Kent, I have seen first hand how property work is integral to the well being of many firms and the holistic advice that they provide for their clients.

I want to ensure that the Law Society is able to have a meaningful influence on the discussions on property and land law, as well as foster closer relations between the Law Society and the Department for Communities and Local Government, the Cabinet Office, the Welsh Government and Assembly, and other decision makers.

I am looking forward to the next 12 months - I feel both honoured and privileged to be able be serve our great profession. I will be posting regularly on this blog and Twitter.

Please do keep in touch with us, your national Law Society and, most importantly of all, keep being proud to be part of this great profession.

Follow me on Twitter: @LawSocPresident

Watch my first video message

Tags: access to justice | president | conveyancing | rule of law

About the author

Jonathan Smithers was the 171st president of the Law Society and a senior partner at CooperBurnett. Jonathan represents the Society as a media spokesperson on a range of property law issues and sits on the Land Registry Rules Committee.
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