As we come to the end of this extraordinary year, I wanted to bring you up to date about some of the changes we’re making at the Law Society that will come into place from the New Year. Since those changes involve individual staff members you will appreciate that there are limits to what we have been and continue to be able to say.
What I can assure you is that the Law Society remains absolutely committed to our relationship with local law societies round the country. That relationship has very much developed over the past months for the benefit of all our members. Going forward the day to day interaction and personnel may change but in doing so we are seeking to work more efficiently in the offering to members and with law societies.
Whilst the events of 2020 have driven many organisations to look hard at their operations and delivery, as you will know, we have been driving forward a programme of transformation for the past couple of years. The investment in technology and new digital platforms meant that we did not lose a day of operation as a result of the Chancery Lane fire in January or the Covid crisis and lockdown from March onwards. We have launched new member services including education resources and most recently a completely new CQS training programme and have made all our events digital and many free to members to support them during this difficult year. We have also delivered a huge amount of new information guidance and support for members facing their own Covid crisis’ and fought hard to stand up for solicitors and their clients across numerous policy and public issues.
However, transformation does not stop at our technology, learning and events. As a consequence of the changes, there are also changes to our teams, some of whom will engage with you as a local law society. I recognise the concerns that have been expressed by some members and I wanted to address them and be clear of the reasons for the changes.
As independent societies, you connect members with each other in their geographies and we have always valued the relationship we have with you and your input and insights that feed into our own work, for example through our Council. We have looked hard at how to engage more of our members in our work and have learnt a lot since March about how we have successfully operated digitally.
We have also reflected that the current approach is not working well enough to meet member needs and to make the links between members wherever they are geographically. Whilst geography is one way members connect to each other, there are many more including the common interests of specialism, career stage, size of firm and for an increasing number, being in-house. For some years we have employed a regionally based team to engage with you and our other members, however members are consistently telling us they do not sufficiently understand the value we bring or what we have to offer, therefore we need to develop our approach. From this week the way we engage with members regionally will be changing. We will no longer have staff based in the regions, instead a new single Membership Engagement Team will develop and coordinate engagement with all members, tailored where relevant to regions and areas of interest, career stage, and practice type.
The aim of our restructure is to re-focus resources to engage with many more members and offer them new ways to engage with the Society – we do not believe that a small regional team can deliver the level of member engagement we need or is best placed to do so. I want to reassure you that having a Chancery Lane London based Membership team does not mean our services will be London centric – in fact, we have seen an increase in the geographical reach of our events this year as they have become fully digital. Our Office Holders, Council members and Membership staff will continue their frequent and active engagement with you and we will actively seek ways to collaborate with you on issues of mutual interest. There will be multiple gateways into the Society. We currently send a weekly email update to societies, which we will continue to do, providing an update across the range of issues affecting members as well as TLS activities. We will contact you in the New Year to share the new team structures and to confirm your main points of contact at TLS.
This is a significant change to how we work, but it is in response to concerns by members and designed to ensure we focus our resources to engage with many more members and ensure they get maximum benefit from their membership. We remain committed to our collaborative work with you as local societies – you know your own areas best and we are keen to work with you rather than duplicate your own areas of expertise. I am always happy to be contacted directly if you have further questions about this change and if you do have existing relationships with our relationship management team and want to know who to talk to about any more general questions, then please contact Louise Hanson our Executive Director of Member Experience or Valeria Mancheva, Head of Membership Engagement & Services firstname.lastname@example.org. Whilst writing I would also encourage all members to register for MyLS on our new website as this provides a range of member only information and guidance that is relevant to a range of member interests.
President of the Law Society of England and Wales