Birmingham Law Society bicentenary logo A WOneProfession oneregion onevoice

Mental health charity LawCare has reached out to the country’s leading law firms and chambers ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May). The theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is‘Stress: Is Modern Life the Problem’

LawCare runs a 365 day a year confidential helpline, as well as a peer support programme for all branches of the legal profession. The charity has distributed new leaflets, posters and digital collateral to 50 firms, chambers and professional bodies in a bid to reach more lawyers during the week. Those sharing information about the charity include Linklaters, Taylor Wessing, DLA Piper, Allen & Overy, Hogan Lovells, Clifford Chance, Ashurst, Legal Network Wales, Burness Paul LLP, Wilberforce Chambers, Pump Court Chambers and many more.

Elizabeth Rimmer, CEO of LawCare said: “Life in the law can be challenging and sometimes things can get on top of you. This Mental Health Awareness Week we are asking ‘How are you, really?’ We want to help as many people as we can in the legal profession who are feeling stressed or depressed or have any other issue. Our helpline is staffed by trained staff and volunteers who have first-hand experience of working in the law. We’ve been supporting lawyers for 20 years and we’re here to listen without judgment. We are very grateful to all the law firms and chambers who have supported our campaign and agreed to distribute information about LawCare and would like to encourage others to get in touch with us if they would like to get involved.”

The Legal Wellbeing Taskforce, of which LawCare is a founder member, has also organised a round table discussion on Thursday 10 May at the University of Law entitled ‘Emotional Competency in the Legal Profession: an educational perspective’.

Rimmer said: “The purpose of the discussion is to look at how we can embed mental wellbeing right into the heart of the law profession and we feel regulation could play a part in this. We’re looking forward to some interesting discussion around the issue.”

The helpline number is 0800 279 6888 Mon-Fri 9am – 7.30pm, weekends & bank holidays 10am – 4pm. There is also information, resources and factsheets at www.lawcare.org.uk

AGM015

James Turner has been appointed president of Birmingham Law Society (BLS), two hundred years after the organisation was founded.

James is a partner at national law firm Tuckers Solicitors LLP, and manages the Birmingham office. A criminal defence specialist, James is a duty solicitor and higher court advocate. He is a member of the Legal Agency Peer Review panel, responsible for reviewing firms conducting publicly funded criminal defence work.

Named president at BLS’s AGM, James succeeds Andrew Beedham, of Clarke Willmott, in the chair.

A member of BLS since 2006, James chaired the organisation’s criminal law committee for five years, drafting and contributing to Ministry of Justice consultation papers affecting criminal justice; he became an officer of BLS in 2016.

He said: “It is an honour to be taking on this prestigious role in such a milestone year.

I will use it to raise the profile of the profession, to encourage new members to join the organisation and work to ensure we remain inclusive and relevant.”

James will also use his year in office to raise funds for and promote two charities: Headway, the brain injury association, and the Jeff Astle Foundation, which supports those who have suffered head injuries in sport.

Established in 1818 with 19 founders, BLS is now the largest regional law society in the UK, with more than 4,000 members drawn from law firms and barristers’ chambers across the Midlands.

The organisation is holding a year of celebrations to mark its bicentenary. These kick-started in January with a judicial parade and service at St Philip’s Cathedral. The annual Legal Awards were held in March. In May a specially commissioned book examining the history and influence of the city’s legal profession over the last two centuries will be published. A gala dinner is slated for October.

Also appointed at the AGM were Linden Thomas, solicitor and manager of the Centre for Professional Legal Education and Research manager at Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham, who becomes Vice President; Inez Brown, partner and head of clinical negligence at Medical Accident Group, part of Harrison Clark Rickerbys, was named Deputy Vice President; joint honorary secretaries are Chaitali Desai, a solicitor at Weightmans LLP and Sophie Samani, associate at Shakespeare Martineau.

Officers 2018 19

Inez Brown (Deputy Vice President), James Turner (President 2018-19) and Linden Thomas (Vice President)

 

Sponsor offer for members

The mortgage market has recovered from the shock of the financial crisis and is now more innovative and competitive than it has been for a number of years. This can offer particular opportunities for members of the legal profession, as some lenders place additional weight on your expected career path, which may result in you securing special terms whether it be a first time mortgage or re-mortgaging existing properties.

There are a number of crucial points to emphasise when you are seeking mortgage advice:

  • Decide if you want to do it yourself, although be aware that some lenders do not make all their products available direct to members of the public
  • If you decide to use a mortgage broker ensure they are fully Independent – some that state “whole of market” are not necessarily Independent and may not deal with some of the main lenders
  • It is often possible to secure  better terms for higher earning professionals, allowing you to borrow up to 5 times your income in certain circumstances
  • Mortgage offers cannot be made subject to you also buying the lenders own home insurance or insurance products – better terms for these can be found through an independent financial adviser.

Redbourne Professional Mortgages is a fully independent and impartial mortgage broker, specialising in advising members of the legal profession. As part of our ongoing sponsorship of the Birmingham Law Society we are offering a £100 fee discount for all new mortgages arranged for Law Society members.

Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 01527 888 990

 

 

Legal leader wins award

A University of Wolverhampton law graduate is celebrating after clinching a top leadership award.

Sandra Wallace graduated in 1991 with a LLB Law degree from what was then Wolverhampton Polytechnic.

She is now Managing Partner of DLA Piper UK and recently won the Leadership Award at the Birmingham Law Society Awards. The award was sponsored by the University of Wolverhampton Law School.

Sandra, who qualified as a lawyer in 1994, said: “Winning anything always makes you reflect on what you have achieved and in my case how far I have come. I was so worried about going to University and if I would be able to make a legal career. Then I look back and think not only did I achieve that but I have been given so many opportunities at DLA Piper besides. 

“I am not keen on the limelight and I recognise that little happens without support around you. Nevertheless this award is special because it was colleagues at DLA Piper pushing me to go for it and they submitted the commentary in support of the nomination.  So it feels like people appreciate what I do, even if I think it's no big deal!”

She added: “The University of Wolverhampton (Polytechnic when I was there) was quite a revelation for me.  It was the first time I enjoyed my education. At college I was the odd one out being from the wrong part of town and generally it was not very diverse.  I didn’t attend the universities that I actually got accepted for because I felt I would be like a fish out of water.  Looking back that was probably because nowhere I visited had such a diverse population of students as Wolverhampton. 

“The course was challenging but the teaching was good and fostered independent learning. It was not stuffy but it was no easy ride either. I am one of six children and sitting at number 5 I was the first person to go to University in my family. As you can see with my career I am glad I did.”

Head of the University of Wolverhampton Law School, Sukhninder Panesar, said: “It was great to see Sandra win the Leadership Award and it was fitting that the Award was presented by the University of Wolverhampton.  Every year we see professionals who have graduated from the University of Wolverhampton win awards at the Birmingham Law Society Awards Ceremony and this is testament to the strengths of the Law School in producing highly qualified lawyers.”

The Birmingham Law Society Legal Awards have been showcasing the best of the region’s legal talent since the inaugural event in 2002.

Now in their 17th year, the Awards celebrate the success and achievement of both individuals and firms over the last 12 months.

For more information about studying Law, visit: www.wlv.ac.uk/law

largest ever survey on gender equality in legal profession

The largest international survey of women in the law has been released by the Law Society of England and Wales, shedding light on the road to gender equality in the legal profession.

“People working in law across the world have spoken out about the challenges the profession faces in achieving gender equality,” said Law Society vice president Christina Blacklaws.

“I am a passionate believer in equality. Where there is inequality, I will not flinch from tackling it. I know I’m not alone in this - justice, fairness and the rule of law are what drew most of us to the legal profession.

“Unconscious bias in the legal profession was the most commonly identified barrier to career progression for women, while flexible working was seen as a remedy by an overwhelming 91% of respondents to our survey.

“Interestingly while half of all respondents said they thought there had been progress on gender equality over the last five years there was a significant difference in perception by gender with 74% of men reporting progress in gender equality compared to only 48% of women.”

Key figures:

  • 7,781 people responded to the Law Society’s Women in the Law survey
    (5,758 women, 554 men and 1,469 unknown or other)
  • 74% of men and 48% of women reported progress on gender equality in the last 5 years
    (overall 50%)
  • Main barriers to career progression perceived as:
    - Unconscious bias (52%)
    However, only 11% said unconscious bias training is consistently carried out in their organisation
    - Unacceptable work/life balance demanded to reach senior levels (49%)
    - Traditional networks/routes to promotion are male orientated (46%)
    - Current resistance to flexible working practices (41%)
  • 91% of respondents said flexible working is critical to improving diversity
    - 52% work in an organisation where flexible working is in place
  • 60% are aware of gender pay gap in their place of work
    - Only 16% see visible steps taken to address gender pay gap

Christina Blacklaws concluded: “With our women in leadership programme, the Law Society is committed to giving women and men in law the tools to make positive changes towards gender equality.

“Every law firm, lawyer and client will benefit from greater equality in our places of work. I believe the justice system will also be stronger if the legal professions better reflects the values we uphold.”

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