Summary of proceedings at the 2006 AGM of the Society

The past year has been an exceptionally busy one, said President Caroline Flanagan, delivering her report on behalf of Council.

Quite apart from the regulation debate, she mentioned among the other main features of the year:

  • the withdrawal of the table of fees – which did not now appear, she said, to have had any anti-competitive effect in practice – and the introduction of letters of engagement ;
  • the review of legal aid, on which the Society now had two committees in order to focus on solicitors’ direct interest as well as the public interest, and in which she feared the continued underfunding “will erode access to justice and ultimately democracy”;
  • the research into women in the profession, which had produced a “staggering response” and very useful information through which the Society could promote change;
  • and the appointment of non-solicitor observers to Council, to become full members when the necessary powers were conferred.

On the Legal Profession Bill, the President highlighted the constant pressure that Douglas Mill, Michael Clancy and Philip Yelland had been under during the consultation process and since, while pointing out that the efficiency of the present system had continued to improve. She regretted the apparent lack of a strategic plan on the part of the Executive, warning that with the bill in its present form, the viability and independence of the profession were at stake. “I believe that the profession will survive in some form”, she said, while warning that some firms that now provide an essential service will become unsustainable, leading to “advice deserts” emerging.

The other main theme of her presidency, communication, had seen the Society’s list of members’ email addresses grow to 8,000, with only one respondent claiming that he was fighting a “losing rearguard action” against sending information this way. Visits to local faculties and the bigger firms have been a valuable means of exchanging views.

“I have been exceptionally lucky in my year in office”, she concluded. “It has been a very exciting and a very challenging time.”

Share this article
Add To Favorites