PROMOTING PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE.
There are 14 professional committees at Birmingham Law Society, each dealing with a different area of legal practice. The committees meet regularly to review and discuss relevant legislation, news and other issues affecting their sector of expertise.
Through regular email updates and specialist events, the committees communicate and engage with all Society members operating in their respective areas of law, keeping them consistently informed, connected and challenged.
Criminal Law Committee
The Criminal Law Committee consists of members drawn from throughout Birmingham and surrounding areas. Its co-opted members include representatives of the judiciary and the Legal Aid Agency, as well as HMCTS staff, probation officers, prosecutors and others.
The Committee liaises with prisons, police and the courts about issues affecting all of our members. It also responds to consultations, and lobbies on behalf of both members and clients.
The Consultation Committee is responsible both for responding directly to general consultations – from the LSB, SRA and, occasionally, the Ministry of Justice – and for assisting with specialist consultation responses by the Society’s other professional committees.
It also deals with all professional regulatory issues as and when they arise, including providing information to The Law Society when requested and commenting on issues where appropriate.
Dispute Resolution Committee
The Dispute Resolution Committee supports members working in commercial and civil litigation (excluding personal injury) and is dedicated to improving standards of litigation within the Midlands region.
The Committee organises a variety of professional development opportunities for members, including ongoing advocacy training and a recent accountancy training program run in conjunction with BDO. It also runs the Circuit Commercial Court Network (CCC Network), through which members can provide anonymous feedback to the courts, with a view to improving the court experience for members and their clients.
Education & Training Committee
The Education and Training Committee supports the interests of those who are in education or training for a career in law.
The primary activities of the Committee include responding to relevant consultations, lobbying and campaigning on behalf of BLS members, holding careers events for local schools and debating competitions for regional universities, and supporting the BLS internship programme.
The Employment Committee, formed of senior employment law practitioners from across the Midlands region, meets monthly to consider recent and proposed changes in employment law and practice.
The Committee also undertakes annual discussions with senior representatives of ACAS, the regional judiciary, and various trade unions, as well as responding to government and other consultations as required.
Equality and Diversity Committee
The Equality and Diversity Committee deals with issues of equality, diversity and inclusion, both in Birmingham Law Society itself and in the legal profession more widely.
By providing information, advice and support, the Committee helps progress initiatives that promote equality for all members of the profession, regardless of race, ethnicity, heritage, gender, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity.
Family Law Committee
Formed of a range of professionals working in the family justice system, the Family Law Committee aims to promote the Midlands as a centre of national excellence for the sector.
The committee’s current objectives include improving access to specialist financial judges in relevant finance cases; addressing the significant increase in the number of applications relating to children issued at courts across the Midlands; and offering a greater range of ADR services to accommodate the increase in LiPs, thus reducing the volume of cases dealt with by the courts (and subsequently reducing the delay and expense involved for all).
The In House Committee, formed of lawyers from a diverse range of public and private sector organisations in the Midlands region, seeks to raise the profile of the in house community in the region and to encourage further in house lawyers to join the Birmingham Law Society.
The Committee’s initial objectives to develop the in house community include: creating a forum and opportunities for in house lawyers across the region to network and share experience and best practice, and creating training and development opportunities to assist organisations throughout the region in respect of recruitment, training and retention of in house talent.
The International Committee exists primarily to promote the legal expertise that exists in Birmingham to the global market.
The Committee regularly engages with lawyers in overseas jurisdictions, hosts visiting lawyers, students and members of the overseas judiciary, and provides seminars and events relevant to those with an interest in international law and procedure.
Legal Tech Committee
The membership committee was formed in 2018 to focus on capturing feedback from existing members, to support the work of the Society in identifying and bringing on board new members and to ensure that the Society delivers on its commitments to the membership.
Part of the work of the committee is also to review the membership parameters and subscription models to ensure that these remain relevant and appropriate. The committee meets bi-monthly and reports to the Board of the Society with proposals concerning changes to the membership being submitted to Council.
Personal Injury Committee
The Personal Injury Committee has members with a range of expertise in personal injury law, representing the interests of both claimants and defendants to ensure a balanced view.
The Committee meets bi-monthly to review and discuss changes to legislation, to respond to relevant consultation papers on behalf of Birmingham Law Society, and to liaise with the local judiciary on substantive and procedural matters connected to personal injury/clinical negligence cases.
Private Client Committee
It has been a busy few years for private client practitioners of late and Birmingham hasn’t been spared these changes. We have had to traverse problems with HMCTS Probate Service with the introduction of new designs for the Grants of Representation, the introduction of an online digital application process for Grants of Probate, the ending of the use of Oaths along with the introduction and then removal of Statements of Truth in favour of standardised application forms. The less said about the threat of new fees the better. Sadly Birmingham hasn’t been spared in these changes with the Birmingham District Probate Registry on Bull Street being the first of many Registries and Sub-Registries to close. The light for Birmingham is that it was chosen as the location for the national centre for the Courts and Tribunals Service Centre to process all digital applications.
We have also seen changes in the registration of trusts with HM Revenue & Customs, new Standards and Regulations introduced by the SRA, changes to the rules of intestacy, and the need for price transparency with our fees for probate and estate administration services being displayed on our firm’s websites. This all before Covis-19 struck and the proposed introduction of the remote witnessing of wills using video technology came into view.
It is with this changing background that Birmingham Law Society decided to introduce a new committee focused on private client issues.
Pro Bono Committee
The objectives of the Pro Bono Committee are to support, promote and celebrate pro bono work in the Midlands region, by facilitating the sharing of best practice amongst practitioners, publicising relevant career development opportunities, and hosting events for Birmingham Law Society members and the wider community.
The Committee is also responsible for maintaining the Society’s public pro bono database, through which individuals seeking free legal advice can be connected with members and organisations offering pro bono services.
Property and Development Committee
The Property and Development Committee has representatives from across commercial and residential property, construction and planning law. It meets monthly to discuss best practice, recent case law updates and risk management.
The Committee also responds to government consultation papers, with past consultation topics including the privatisation of the Land Registry and proposed changes in leasehold and conveyancing practice, as well as holding occasional social events for property professionals.
The Student Committee helps students in the Midlands region to access careers in law, by promoting work experience opportunities and encouraging professional networking through a range of educational and social events.
Past events organised by the Committee include tours of local law firms and chambers, topical talks by senior barristers and solicitors, speed networking events and the very popular annual Legal Eagles Charity Quiz Night.