My first report as president must begin by thanking everyone who took the trouble of sending their best wishes to me for my term of office and by my paying tribute to Jim Meyer for the exceptional effort he put into his year as president. Jim?s contribution ? over a number of years ? both in terms of technical expertise and contribution to debates on policy, has been extremely valuable to the association. Fortunately for me, he will be very much part of our committee as immediate past president/webmaster and will continue to be heavily involved in this year?s key projects.

During my first week as president, I attended three functions, including an all-day conference. The weeks since then have been equally busy. I have been contacted by members and non-members alike on a daily basis enquiring about a host of matters that concern London practitioners. Invitations to workshops and meetings are coming in thick and fast. The association is about to embark on a radical programme to improve its members? benefit package. It is a busy time for the LCCSA and for our excellent committee, which is made up of local practitioners volunteering their valuable time.

I attended the criminal contract consultative group meeting, which is held every month at the Ministry of Justice, whilst Jonathan Black attended a multi-agency event, run by the MoJ, on how to make greater use of video link technology throughout the criminal justice system. Steven Bird and others put forward the practitioner?s point of view at a meeting on legal aid transfers at Southwark Crown Court. The association was also represented at a number of other focus groups and court user group meetings, as well as at the Criminal Cases Review Commission?s meeting for stakeholders in Birmingham.

Under the stewardship of Tony Meisels, the LCCSA continues to keep a keen eye on the numerous consultation processes issued by the government and to respond to those which concern our membership. The latest of these was about the MoJ?s proposed changes to the Crown Court means testing scheme.

Members can follow our responses to the consultation papers and discussions on the issues raised at various meetings by visiting the LCCSA website www.lccsa.org.uk, which also provides members with an opportunity to express their views online. And I particularly welcome emails sent directly to me: I hope that members will feel free to get in touch about any topics which they believe the association should consider. Please contact me, even if it is simply to express a view ? or, importantly, to get involved:akhtar.ahmad@abvsolicitors.co.uk

At the AGM in November, I announced the launch of our training programme, which aims to give members the opportunity to gain 16 CPD points as part of their membership fee. A large part of the training will be delivered through webinars presented by an excellent panel of speakers. This is an exciting project, providing real benefit for members. Delivering this commitment is no easy task and I am grateful to Jim Meyer, Jonathan Black and Avtar Bhatoa for their efforts in getting this off the ground.

Finally, I would like to welcome Greg Foxsmith, Edward Grange and Zaki Hashmi to the committee and must congratulate Frankie Goodman, Jeffrey Gordon and Greg Powell on their life membership awards, which are richly deserved.

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