Lubna Shuja makes history as she becomes first Asian Law Society president

Lubna Shuja takes office as the Law Society’s 178th, first Asian, first Muslim and seventh woman president.
Lubna Shuja is a woman of South Asian heritage with long, straight dark brown hair. She is smiling widely and stands in front of the Law Society on Chancery Lane. She wears a burgundy blazer and a green necklace.
Photograph: Darren Filkins

On Wednesday 12 October, Lubna Shuja became the 178th president of the Law Society of England and Wales. Nick Emmerson took office as vice president and Richard Atkinson became deputy vice president.

Lubna is the first Asian, first Muslim and the seventh woman to be president of the Law Society in its nearly 200-year history.

This is the first time where there will be two consecutive women presidents, as I. Stephanie Boyce’s term comes to an end.

For Lubna, this year marks 30 years since becoming a solicitor. The beginning of her term also coincides with the 100-year anniversary of the first woman – Carrie Morrison – being admitted to the roll of solicitors.

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.

“I am honoured to serve as Law Society president. I take on the role at a difficult time for the legal profession," Lubna said.

"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.

“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 detailed the five main aims of her presidency in a speech delivered to Council and committee members at our annual general meeting.

Her presidency will be a year of pragmatism: focused on a range of issues both national and global.

Justice, the rule of law and the value of solicitors

Following recent attacks from those in power, Lubna will continue to champion the role that solicitors play to ensure the rule of law is upheld and that there is access to justice for everyone, regardless of their circumstances.

To ensure that the economic, social and cultural contributions of the justice system are recognised, she will lead a project to reframe how we speak about the rule of law so that people better understand, and value, its fundamental contribution to our society.

“We are in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis and at times like these, the public must be able to easily access legal advice, support and representation,” Lubna explained.

She placed an emphasis on communicating the value of legal professionals through public legal education.

Professional ethics

Having worked in professional discipline and regulation for a long time, ethics is incredibly important to Lubna and will be another key focus of her presidency.

Discussions around what is meant by “ethical” are becoming increasingly complex as many solicitors’ grapple with environmental, social and governmental concerns.

Lubna plans to “launch a major focus on ethics in the profession to help members navigate this increasingly complex environment and to seek solutions to cope with the constantly changing narrative”.

Supporting members’ businesses

In line with the aims of the Law Society, promoting the profession and supporting our members has always been central to Lubna’s work in the organisation.

Lubna will maintain a two-way conversation with the profession and continue listening to member concerns, ideas and feedback.

“Whatever the size of your business, wherever you are based, whatever the stage of your career and whichever area of law you practise in. If it worries you, it worries us. If it concerns you as a solicitor, it concerns us.”

Lubna will hold a regular president’s surgery that will be open to all members and will travel in the roving Law Society roadshow, which will take her across England and Wales to meet with members.

“In my presidential year I intend to do all I can to support solicitors, their firms or their businesses to thrive despite these pressures.”

Promoting the profession internationally

The legal system of England and Wales continues to be world leading: English law remains the law of choice for international contracts.

Lubna is keen to continue to advocate for our legal system on a global stage.

She plans to engage with organisations internationally with a focus on exploring new markets and opportunities for our members. She will also continue to advocate for lawyers at risk overseas.

Diversity and progression

In her 30 years as a solicitor, Lubna has witnessed a lot of positive change but recognises that further strides need to be made to ensure equity for all within the profession.

Lubna will take action to break down barriers that face people across society who are trying to access the profession or further their careers. This includes working with our Solicitor Judges Network to promote alternative career paths.

Lubna will also support our Welsh members by promoting a much greater understanding of the opportunities and responsibilities facing all organisations under the Welsh Language Act 1993.

Find out more

Explore Lubna’s presidential plan for the year ahead

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