Law Society marks women's centenary
2023 marks the centenary of the first woman in Ireland to qualify as a solicitor, Mary Dorothea Heron – and the first female solicitor to obtain a practising certificate in the State, Helena Mary Early. The Law Society has been paying tribute to these remarkable women – and the first 100 female solicitors – through a series of events. A special exhibition, marking their achievements has been on view at Blackhall Place throughout this milestone year. The Law Society Gazette has also been marking the centenary by spotlighting the lives of these pioneering women.
Consultation process and strategic review
How will the Law Society and the solicitors’ profession evolve in the next five years? The Law Society has embarked on a consultation process with the profession, which will assist in developing the Law Society’s Strategy Statement 2024-2028. Following a successful survey of the profession, with 2,264 responses, the organisation has been hosting solicitor gatherings to hear their views. Director General Mark Garrett says: “We are using this process to help develop a roadmap to navigate the challenges and opportunities the profession faces, as well as to fulfil our public-interest mandate.”
Key reforms for families ’ access to justice
At an appearance before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice on 25 October 2022, the Law Society made five key recommendations to help alleviate the burden on Irish families due to child maintenance, access to children, and custody court orders. In December, the Family and Child Law Committee added its support for the new Family Courts Bill 2022. It reiterated its call for funding, infrastructure and technology to be put in place to ensure that the much needed reforms outlined in the bill can become a reality.
New solicitors accounts regulations commence
New Solicitors Accounts Regulations came into operation on 1 July 2023. The purpose of the new regulations is to increase protection for client monies and to address provisions of the 2014 regulations that are considered inadequate or not sufficiently clear. The changes arose following careful review and consultation with members of the profession, the accounting bodies, and others. The Law Society has been providing guidance to members on navigating the regulations through a nationwide CPD roadshow, in partnership with the bar associations. Members requiring assistance should email 4 email@example.com.
Trainee intake hits ten-year high
The Law School hit a ten-year high in intake when it welcomed 472 new trainees on its new fused Professional Practice Course (PPC) on 6 September 2022 – up 10% on the previous year. Trainee solicitors now complete one academic course instead of two. The streamlined course sets the global standard for first-class solicitor training, where equal priority is given to psychological development, legal skills, and knowledge. The new fused PPC was developed by the Law Society as part of its strategic plan to increase access to solicitor training.
Justice award presented to people of Ukraine
The Ambassador of Ukraine to Ireland, Larysa Gerasko, accepted the Law Society’s inaugural Justice Award on behalf of the people of Ukraine, at the Law Society Gala on 14 October 2022. “The people of Ukraine have shown the world what it means to stand up for the rights of people everywhere,” the Law Society said. “Through individual and collective acts of courage, ordinary citizens have reignited global debate on the importance of upholding the rule of law.” The award recognises extraordinary contributions to legal practice, academia, social justice or rights advocacy.
Law Society hosts Central Bank consultation
Over 160 solicitors attended the joint Law Society and Central Bank of Ireland event, ‘Enhanced governance, performance and accountability in financial services – the Individual Accountability Framework’, at Blackhall Place on 17 April 2023. Derville Rowland (deputy governor of the Central Bank) addressed the event, which focused on introducing key aspects of the Central Bank’s Individual Accountability Framework. Speaking about the new Senior Executive Accountability Regime, the deputy governor said that the regulator desired a mature industry operating to high standards, which would be good for business, investors, and the economy.
New-look website launched
The redesigned Law Society website was unveiled on 15 August 2022. The previous version of lawsociety.ie originally launched in 2014. Given the significant amount of information that has been posted to the website since then, the revamp has been a welcome development. It makes it easier for solicitors and members of the public to find information more quickly, delivers a consistent experience across multiple devices, and incorporates industry-standard accessibility for all users. The redesign was based on feedback received from solicitors and other stakeholders through surveys, in-depth interviews, and other channels.
Solicitors returning to practice
Thoughts of returning to work after a career break or an extended period of leave can be intimidating. As a result, the Law Society’s ‘Returners Programme’ is on hand to support members returning to practice. Those wishing to avail of the programme make contact with the Law Society’s Career Support service to take part in 12-week workshops that help solicitors work towards success, focus on their personal priorities, and identify job-market opportunities that align with what they want from working life. The programme has helped dozens of solicitors to return to work.
Almost 14,000 students take part in TY law
A record 13,800 students from 154 schools have taken part in the Law Society’s Transition Year Law Module since its launch in December 2022. This bespoke four week online programme gives students the opportunity to explore a future career as a solicitor, and to learn how the law is relevant to their daily lives. Students cover a broad range of subjects, including climate justice, criminal law, employment law, human-rights practice, juvenile justice, and the Children’s Courts. The course is just one of many Law Society initiatives opening up access to legal education for schools.