By the time you read this column, I will have handed over the presidency of Birmingham Law Society to Mary Kaye and so I am in a pensive mood this month as I look back over the last year.
Our regional legal profession advises individuals, businesses and organisations of all shapes and sizes in all sectors, the large corporate, the multi national and governments and businesses around the world. We are a major source of inward investment to our region and the English legal system that we promote and uphold so well is the envy of the world.
Over this past year we have attracted keynote speakers on the future of legal services. Joshua Rozenberg centred one of his Law in Action programmes around us. We have been engaging directly with the key players in the SRA and the Legal Ombudsman, both of which have chosen to be based in Birmingham. I see this as an endorsement of Birmingham as a major legal centre serving the country and more widely.
We enjoyed a visit from the Attorney General, who spent the day with us and opened our first ever pro bono event. We have extended our student law work and are actively engaging with and supporting the legal profession of tomorrow.
We have networked, educated and trained. We have debated and we have raised money for charity. I started the year by being thrown out of an aeroplane and ended it by abseiling down the Wesleyan Building with 90 other members and friends of Birmingham Law Society. Between us we have raised £38,000 for Acorns Children’s Hospice.
Whilst we face much change our fundamental principles, values and ethics as a legal profession remain the same; to act with integrity and in our clients’ best interests even if that is to our own detriment.
As a final thought, the Home Secretary may also be feeling a bit pensive at the moment about the ‘complications’ that continue to plague attempts by our Government to extradite Abu Qatada. I hope that Europe, our own Government and its lawyers can all play their part to ensure that the justice systems in place are fit for purpose in changing times and that the people that operate within them continue to be motivated and driven by a strong desire for justice and upholding the rule of law.
I will certainly strive to do my part, as I know will the members of the largest local law society in our country; the Birmingham Law Society.
* Andrew Lancaster was president of Birmingham Law Society