Rotary Club of Belfast

The Law Society of NI

Rowan White 14.06.21Guest Speaker Rowan White, President Law Society of NI, gave an outline of the work of the Society to the Club meeting Monday 14 June. In his address, which was very interesting and well received, he noted that due to the pandemic he was now 19 months in office having been re-elected last November. He pointed out that the role of the Law Society of NI was to regulate and represent the Society with the aim of protecting the public. It operates through an elected Council of solicitors who serve on a voluntary basis with a Chief Executive David Lavery. They also have a new organisational structure: Development Department – covering training, admin and CPD; Professional Conduct Department, Member Services Department and Engagement Department.

He revealed that there are currently 5,000 solicitors on the roll with 3,000 currently practising across 470 firms mostly small in size and he reported all firms large and small had been impacted by the lockdowns. Not least, he revealed, the Society itself when the normally very traditional and formal Council held a telephone meeting – the 1st in the Council’s 100 year history - 2 days after the lockdown was introduced in March 2019 and which are now held by zoom.

He noted that zoom meetings have thrown up novel issues and there is the disadvantage of not seeing people in person but they have also helped the Society move away from being Belfast centric with non-Belfast members more willing to sit on committees when meetings are being held virtually. He also pointed out that the Society has gone digital with all CPC courses and training software as well as Practice Renewal now available online. They have also introduced a new inspection model with a risk-based approach. All these developments he suggested may well have happened at some time but “necessity is the mother of invention”.

He concluded by noting that the Society and Rotary were both founded by lawyers and both have a duty of care: - Solicitors to their clients and the rule of law and Rotarians to communities. He congratulated the Club on its endeavours and wished it every success. Giving a vote of thanks Immediate Past President Karen Blair thanked President Rowan for his excellent address noting that it had been a difficult time for the profession.

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