Thank you for the warm support and good wishes you have shared since my nomination for LCCSA President. It was a pleasure to be elected last night, alongside a fantastic committee with officers and members old and new.
I thought I should share some of our hopes and ambitions for the Association in the year ahead.
Firstly, I want to pay tribute to our retiring President Jon Black, who has led the association through the most difficult of years.
Secondly, I thank Julian Hayes for his work as Vice President. Ordinarily, Julian would have been elected as Jon’s successor, but some challenging circumstances have put at short notice a greatly increased workload on Julian’s shoulders, such that he did not feel he would be able to commit the requisite time to LCCSA business. We all wish Julian well, and I am hopeful he will remain in the LCCSA fold in the future. Julian had worked up some good ideas for the year ahead, which I will happily be taking forward, such as student membership. I will also be asking him to take a lead on some of his marketing ideas.
Finally, I want to thank other committee members standing down, all of whom have been a pleasure to work with - Jon White, Zaki Hashmi, Ed Grange, past President Nicola Hill, and of course Tim Walker who did sterling work as treasurer through difficult times and expensive JR actions.
I am delighted that we retain key committee members and our experienced co-opted members.
We also have some great new members on board.
The website will be updated soon with officer and committee member details.
At a time when solicitors in legally-aided criminal law are under siege, an active and effective representative body is more important than ever. The challenge is not only to preserve membership levels when finances are tight, but increase our membership. Higher membership gives us greater legitimacy, greater collective bargaining power, greater strength and greater economies of scale so that I hope to be able to bring the membership subscription levels down.
As an Association our battle with the MoJ on funding over the last few years has led us to focus on legal aid. I can reassure members who do privately funded work that I am determined the Association is relevant and valuable to all.
I will be asking Sandra Paul and Pam Reddy to lead on white-collar and non-legal aid issues.
Lucinda will be leading on social events and developing our student membership.
I want to be clear in understanding what existing and potential members want from the LCCSA.
You, the members will be asked. I want bottom-up communication, and members to be as active and involved as they would like.
We will need to be creative in restoring our finances. Sponsorship and advertising will be included in revenue streams, to help us provide better services without increased cost for members. In the short term, we will be seeking help to clear our outstanding JR costs.
The issue of training has become a key battle in skirmishes with those at the bar who are hostile to solicitor-advocates. There is good advocacy training available, but I would like the LCCSA to take on the challenge of providing advocacy training, working closely I hope with SAHCA who already have experience of this.
There are opportunities for more networking and social events. I am asking committee member Lucinda Nicholls to lead on this.
In conclusion, the year ahead presents challenges, but also opportunities.
As new President I inherit an Association to be proud of, with a great history, and I hope you will all be part of the next chapter.
10 November 2015