Barrier-breaking Law Society president inaugurated

On Thursday 14 October, I. Stephanie Boyce was officially inaugurated as the 177th president of the Law Society in a ceremony at 113 Chancery Lane.
I. Stephanie Boyce speaking at her inauguration as president of the Law Society
Photograph: Michael Cross/Gazette

Stephanie became the first Black person, first person of colour and the sixth woman to become president of the Law Society in March 2021.

The inauguration ceremony was a celebration of the achievements of her presidency so far, as well as an opportunity to discuss the year ahead.

Diversity and inclusion

In Stephanie’s inauguration speech, she reiterated her commitment to leaving the legal profession more diverse and inclusive than when she entered it.

She made it clear that talented individuals should be empowered and supported to enter the profession regardless of their background.

Stephanie said: “I am living testament to the growing social opportunity in the legal profession but I also recognise that more needs to be done to ensure that talented individuals can progress in the practice of law, stay in the law and thrive in the law regardless of their background.

“I’ve always wanted to break down barriers, and in becoming the first person of colour to be president of the Law Society, I did just that.

"Now here’s to another year of breaking down the barriers to accessing justice, to overseas markets, and ultimately, to a thriving profession – all while striving to protect the rule of law.”

The year ahead

The speech also looked ahead, outlining the work that the Law Society will do to represent and support the solicitor profession over the next 12 months.

Stephanie discussed the proposed closure of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF) and underlined the Law Society’s obligation to listen to members and represent them on this issue.

She also committed to uphold the rule of law and champion access to justice for society’s most vulnerable.

Finally, she highlighted the ways in which the profession is bouncing back from the pandemic while also acknowledging that there would be road bumps to come, particularly mental health challenges as members return to face-to-face working.

Vice president and deputy vice president also inaugurated

Left to right: deputy vice president Nick Emmerson, vice president Lubna Shuja and president I. Stephanie Boyce, at the Law Society inauguration 2021

Stephanie’s inauguration took place on the same day as the Law Society’s Council meeting and annual general meeting, with the latter marking the inauguration of vice president Lubna Shuja, and deputy vice president Nick Emmerson.

Speaking about her role, Lubna said: “I am thrilled to have this role and am eager to continue working alongside Stephanie and supporting her as she implements her three-point plan increasing diversity, addressing the role of technology in access to justice, and promoting good mental health and the rule of law.”

Nick also expressed enthusiasm for his year as deputy vice president, saying: “It’s a great honour to take on this position – I’m looking forward to facing the challenges ahead and working alongside Stephanie and Lubna, our council and staff.”

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