“This time last Saturday we had the October meeting of the Bar Council, in which, after a slight delay for the end of the England v Scotland match, we discussed The Bar Council Strategic and Business plan 2011-13, the Green review of decision-making within the Bar Council, the Practising Certificate Fee and the current state of the staff pension problem.
Sunday lunchtime I met the President of the American Bar Association and his wife; later in the afternoon there was a reception for foreign Bar leaders who had come to London for the Opening of the Legal Year (OLY). On Sunday evening there was a dinner for those leaders and for politicians, government officials and members of the wider legal community. I made a speech of welcome in which I also reflected upon some of the less attractive features of the Legal Aid Bill. On Monday morning I was in the Lord Chief Justice’s court, speaking for the Bar at the ‘swearing in’ of the new President of the Queen’s Bench Division, then down to Westminster Abbey for the service, across to Westminster Hall for the Lord Chancellor’s Breakfast, back for a seminar on privacy and freedom of the press and then a closing reception for the OLY at which I again spoke. Finally a late train up to Manchester for the Tory party conference.
Tuesday morning I saw Don Foster MP (visiting Lib Dem) at breakfast, and then I was in the conference hall immediately behind Ken Clarke when his Hush Puppies first came into conflict with Theresa May’s cat. At lunchtime I was speaking at a fringe meeting with the Legal Aid Minister, Jonathan Djanogly, on whether government proposals will lead to a more effective and efficient system of justice. My speech could have been very short. The afternoon was spent variously meeting Henry Bellingham, Minister at FCO (about Bar overseas initiatives), Crispin Blunt, Minister for Prisons (other ways for government to save money) and then on a train back down to London to attend the Association of Women Barristers’ 20th Anniversary dinner in House of Lords. Finally back up to Manchester on the late train again.
Wednesday began with a meeting with Robert Buckland MP, Legal Aid Bill committee member, then a meeting with the Attorney General and his PPS, Jessica Lee MP, then back to London again to attend and speak at the AGM of the Free Representation Unit. Then on to a late evening meeting with the Chief Executive of the Legal Services Commission.
Thursday started with a meeting of the Bar Council’s General Management Committee at 8am, then a talk to the Temple Scholars from the American Inns of Court, a few hours for preparation, then off to the Legal Services Board for an event associated with the launch of Alternative Business Structures, then a High Court Judge’s reception followed by a solicitors’ reception.
Yesterday at 8am I was at a meeting of our Contingent Legal Aid Fund (CLAF) working group, once more to the LCJ’s court for another judicial swearing in, then lunch with the President of the Canadian Bar Association and so on….
Last night, slightly to their surprise, I saw my children.
Each of these days was filled with a constant stream of emails, of efforts to try to keep pace with the latest initiatives of government, regulators, and many others. And the postbag from all of the same. Amongst the issues this week have been QASA, the latest in the European Commission’s obsession with an EU contract law, anti-discrimination claim insurance, SFO payment rates and almost non-stop telephone calls. I am here at the YBC today, and tomorrow afternoon I fly to Belfast for the commencement of another week.”
The Bar Council is a busy place. I took advantage of the opportunity to praise the staff for their support and their commitment to serving this profession. They are well aware of the strains that many are under. They work tirelessly and economically to make sure your voice is heard.
The Bar Conference – 5 November 2011
The profession’s voice is also heard at the Bar Conference. “Shaping the future: A modern Bar for a modern market” is the opportunity for the Bar to demonstrate the enduring quality of our values and the strength of our commitment to the future. Many sessions will focus on encouraging and developing new areas and styles of practice; not just for those already in international and commercial work but also for those with family and criminal law backgrounds. This will be an outward facing showcase, as well as an opportunity to inform and stimulate debate within the profession. Please come along, you will be pleasantly surprised by what you discover!
Peter Lodder QC, Bar Chairman