The Law Society of Ireland has been examining it’s role in relation to the public and it’s members. A Task Force was established to investuigate and report.
####The Task Force’s Remit
The Task Force’s Terms of Reference were as follows:
“In light of the contents of the Legal Services Regulation Bill, to consider the ongoing role to be played by the Law Society, its functions in promoting the solicitors’ profession and in continuing to safeguard the public interest and to make recommendations to the Council in relation to same.”
####Consultation process and research
The Task Force consulted with representatives of 24 Bar Associations and an independent research agency surveyed the views of the entire profession through an online survey and telephone interviews. This survey was the most comprehensive survey of attitudes and views of members of the profession in Ireland ever undertaken and was fundamental to the Report and Recommendations of the Task Force. The Task Force conducted comprehensive research into the activities of other Law Societies and also examined the Society’s governance and met with each of the Society’s Directors to learn more about how the Society currently delivers its core functions.
A number of clear messages emerged from the Task Force’s research, which indicated the type of change, which would be beneficial for the Society and desired by the profession.
· Better representation – Primarily, there is a clear desire among solicitors for the Society to re-balance its objectives to put more emphasis on representation. Essentially, members want the Society to defend the profession, promote the public image of the profession, develop the Society’s proactive lobbying and law reform agenda as well as proactively representing the profession.
· Developing communication – The Task Force’s research indicated a need for the Society to strengthen its communication function by reviewing its communication strategy and resources to include an examination of more targeted communications and supports for different segments of the profession, assigning existing staff members to champion the needs of different segments of the profession, reviewing communication methods in terms of utility and viability, developing its eCommunication activities and using new communication methods to build stronger bonds with members.
· Improving the way the Society does business – The Task Force’s research indicated that the Society would benefit from the development and implementation of a Strategy Statement for coming years supported by Annual Operational Plans. In addition, in order to maximise their effectiveness and relevance, it is recommended that the Committee resource would benefit from an objective review. A commitment to research and policy development will also develop the Society’s capacity for strategic thinking and thought leadership in-house. In addition, a review of the services provided by the Society’s Regulation Department should develop that Department’s capacity to help solicitors meet their compliance and regulatory obligations.
· Control of costs – The Task Force acknowledged that the implementation of its Report would have cost implications for the Society, as would the implementation, in due course, of the Legal Services Regulation Bill. It was the unanimous view of the Task Force – endorsed by the Council – that the Society has an obligation to ensure that these cost implications are minimised. The Council approved the Report of the Task Force on the basis that the cost of implementing its recommendations could be met from current resources, without any increase in the practising certificate fee.
· Shaping the Law Society of the Future – It is hoped that the recommendations of the Task Force, arising from its extensive research and consultation processes, will shape the Society in future years, with the ultimate aim of delivering its representation role, adding value to existing membership services, becoming more relevant to members and driving members’ participation in the organisation.
– a legal newsletter from Holland Condon, solicitors based in Kilkenny