In-House Committee Report

Grace Ononiwu CBE

Committee Chair

This is my first report as Chair of the In-House Lawyers Committee, and indeed our first report as a Committee to be included in the BLS Annual Report.

We appointed our first chair, Davinder Rana, and vice chair, Lauren Sharkey, in May 2019. Our initial focus was to stabilise our committee membership and the development of our Terms of Reference. As a newly formed committee with a relatively small executive membership, we were hit hard by the pandemic and did not meet as a committee between March 2020 and July 2020. Lauren Sharkey resigned in July 2020 and was succeeded by Michael Morgan-Bullock as Vice-Chair. Davinder Rana resigned in August 2020 and I was then appointed Chair in her place in September 2020.

Our immediate focus as a freshly constituted committee was to begin the process of identifying our in-house constituency. To that end, we arranged an online event for in-house lawyers in the region which we held in November 2020. We were fortunate to have BLS President Inez Brown and I. Stephanie Boyce, then Vice-President of The Law Society and now currently President of The Law Society as our keynote speakers. The event was well received and we plan to host many more such events to ensure we are truly representative of our constituency.

Given that in-house lawyers comprise 25% of the profession and it is anticipated will rise to 33% of the profession, our focus as a committee will continue to be in understanding our constituency and establishing innovative ways of engaging with in-house lawyers in the region and listening to their priorities, in order to best advise BLS on meeting their needs.

As a committee we are particularly conscious of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI). It is the golden thread that runs through all our considerations, it is on our agenda at every committee meeting and we are particularly keen on ensuring that EDI is considered whenever we seek the views of the in-house lawyers in the region.

I am grateful to the In-house Committee members for all of their hard work, commitment and support and look forward to the great work we will do in the coming year.