On Wednesday evening I attended a private Dinner for Managing Partners in Liverpool. Liverpool Law Society President, John Ballam, and his fellow officers, hosted the event. Attendees included representatives from solicitors’ firms of all sizes. Bankers, consultants, and others who support the legal profession also came along. As well as an excellent dinner, this is what we got out of it.
Represent clients and supervise my colleagues in their roles.
Be responsible for the growth and management of my firm, and promote it through networking, media, and other ways where possible.
Help and support the legal profession and wider society.
The day-to-day duties that come with practising law, and running my practice, are a full-time job in themselves. So, I find time out-of-hours and at weekends for other things, such as Wednesday’s dinner.
I am not alone.
At my table I talked with Alison Lobb, the former President of Liverpool Law Society. She worked hard during her year as President by attending many events nationwide in an official capacity. I suspect she has some good tips on juggling commitments for Nina Ferris, next year’s President.
Purpose of Meeting
One of the reasons for the dinner was to talk about Liverpool Law Societybroadly. The Society has over 2,200 members in practice, and is one of the largest local Law Societies in England and Wales.
The legal environment is changing quickly. We discussed things like:
What is Liverpool Law Society there for?
What more can it do to help members?
How can it stay relevant?
One area we focused on was training.
Everyone agreed that the legal training offered by Liverpool Law Society is excellent. Its pull means that leading experts in every field come to Liverpool to train members. These include Kerry Underwood, Helen Swaffield, and Dominic Regan.
But recently there has been a big change which affects training providers like Liverpool Law Society. Solicitors have moved from a points-based system of Continuing Professional Development to the new “Competency Standard”. This means that lawyers have more flexibility in how they keep up-to-date with the law and enhance their knowledge. The challenge for training providers is how to keep members coming to courses, conferences etc.. Everyone had comments and ideas.
What Next for Liverpool Law Society?
The dinner ran late into the evening. It was well worth it. The Society’s officers heard plenty of ideas which they will take to the General Committee. I was encouraged by the enthusiasm and creativity expressed by the group. Because the attendees were both business-owners and lawyers everyone had valuable input. The Society was formed 190 years ago. With the help of events like Wednesday’s dinner, it will see many more.
You might remember we were shortlisted for two Liverpool Law Society Legal Awards (read the story here), including the coveted Niche Law Firm Award for our work in actions against the police.
At a glittering black-tie awards ceremony at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Liverpool on Friday 15 May we became the Niche Law Firm Award winners, beating two other shortlisted firms to the important title.
The ceremony was hosted by well-known local radio personality Roger Phillips and was attended by over 300 lawyers and their guests, including many nationally-renowned people from the legal world.
Emlyn Williams, Liverpool Law Society President, explained to the audience that “the Awards showcased the best of the legal profession” and “demonstrated excellence in legal services provided by the member firms based in and around Merseyside.”
Niche Law Firm Recommendation
We all listened as Roger Phillips read the independent judges’ comments, which I have permission to repeat here. They said:
“Donoghue Solicitors have developed a niche specialism in civil actions against the police. Their work covers complex areas of law and practice, frequently combining a range of personal injury, privacy and Human Rights issues.
“The judges were impressed with their commitment to working with clients who are seeking to attain justice and challenge misconduct. The cases frequently involve important issues of principle pertaining to client confidentiality and reputational damage.
“There is a clear and significant commitment to widening access to justice.”
On this basis the panel, which included a leading Queens Counsel judge, a former past president of Liverpool Law Society, a law professor at John Moores University, and a city councillor, recommended Donoghue Solicitors for the Niche Law Firm award.
As I escorted my team up to the podium to collect the niche law firm award I looked around our tables to see our parents, partners, and special guests cheering us on. It was an immensely proud moment for me. I will never forget it.
One of our guests filmed my acceptance speech on her phone. You can see it here:
In the footage you can hear me thank my team, and especially my mum and dad. My parents unwavering support was especially important when I decided to set up my own niche law firm in 2010 during the recession. Thanks to them and my wife Steph, who believed in me and made many sacrifices to help get the firm off the ground. With their help I and my small, dedicated team have been able to help a great number of people gain access to justice and the compensation they deserve.
As you can imagine, we had a fantastic night which didn’t end until the early hours. It was a well-organised and hosted event which everyone enjoyed, as you can see from the official photos on the Liverpool Law Society’s website and flickr page, and some funny ones on their facebook page. (We’re in photos 38 and 45. Look away if you’re uncomfortable seeing pictures of people in curly wigs and Mexican hats!)
Actions Against the Police Niche
This public recognition of our work in the niche area of actions against the police litigation means a lot and spurs us on to work harder and achieve greater things. We are grateful to the judging panel for choosing Donoghue Solicitors to receive the award.
We will continue to fight hard for our clients and seek to “demonstrate excellence” as we grow.
The Liverpool Law Society Legal Awards is a bi-annual event. It is big news in the legal profession due to the size of Liverpool Law Society and the calibre of firms in the region. There are over 2,200 members in Liverpool Law Society, working for all kinds of law firms throughout Merseyside and the North West. This year a record number of firms were nominated in 14 categories. We are honoured to be short-listed in two of them.
The Society, which was founded in 1827 and is one of the leading law societies in England and Wales, takes the awards seriously. This isn’t a reality show-style popularity contest. The judges only select firms on merit based on strict criteria.
A few weeks after our nomination the Society invited me to an interview by a panel comprising a leading QC judge, former past president, law professor, and councillor. They only short-listed my firm after that grilling and a thorough review of evidence including client reviews, some of which you can read here.
Among other things, the panel wanted to know:
how we contribute to the reputational benefit of Liverpool and the surrounding areas;
what we are doing to develop our particular niche area;
what innovations we have brought to the law and client service;
The 2015 Liverpool Law Society Legal Awards will be presented at a black-tie awards ceremony in Liverpool on Friday 15 May. As a “thank you”, I will be taking my team, their partners, and my parents to the event.
I am thrilled that our hard work has been recognised and thank the Liverpool Law Society nominations panel, our clients, staff, and families for helping us get this far.