These are not quite the circumstances in which I envisaged writing my final Bulletin letter to you as President of Birmingham Law Society. Of course, I think it is safe to say that these are not circumstances in which any of us envisaged finding ourselves at the present time.
I would have expected to spend this final letter reflecting on the last 12 months and setting out for you some of the highlights of the year; of which there have been many. I am extremely grateful to all those who contributed to these successes: our professional team led by our Head of Operations, Becky Lynch; our Board of Directors; our committees; our members; and of course my fellow Officers, Inez Brown, Stephanie Perraton, Chaitali Desai and Sophie Samani. However, our work promoting Birmingham as a centre of legal excellence at home and abroad, our emphasis on social mobility and gender equality, our focus on mental health and wellbeing and our continued efforts to promote access to justice have all been reported within the pages of this magazine already over the course of the year.
So instead, I find myself in the current situation returning to my first column as President in which I wrote that what I enjoy most about working with Birmingham Law Society is working with a community of lawyers. I said that it has been my experience time and again that there is great strength and opportunity to be found in that community. 12 months later, we find ourselves in a time the likes of which we may (I hope) never see again. A time when we are relying on our communities – micro and macro, professional and social, familial and friendship – like never before.
We are all counting on one another to do the right thing. To stay at home where we can, to try and keep those who are most vulnerable safe, to flatten the curve and to ease the pressure on our incredible NHS.
We are also counting on colleagues to be patient as most of us adjust to working from home fulltime, many of us doing so whilst also looking after children who need to be educated and entertained. We are counting on one another to pick up work for us if we or a loved one should fall ill. And we are counting on family and friends to stay in touch and ease the effects of isolation with regular messages, phone calls and updates.
Birmingham Law Society is also keen to do its part to support those within our legal community through these unprecedented and challenging times. As this situation continues, we are sure that many of you will have questions or may benefit from conversations with others in our legal community. If you are unsure who to speak to or where to find the answers you need, our team will do what they can to assist.
So if you have any questions or suggestions as to how we can help you, please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of our team will come back to you as soon as they are able.
We are disseminating updates that are of relevance to the profession as we receive them and we are liaising with The Law Society of England & Wales to ensure that any issues or uncertainties encountered by our members are addressed at national level where appropriate and that guidance is issued where it is needed and concerns are raised with Government, the regulators and other professional bodies as necessary. We are also keenly aware of the effects of homeworking and isolation on mental health and wellbeing and will continue to share useful resources focussing on these areas with our members via email and our social media accounts.
In this month’s Bulletin we have a special feature which shines the spotlight on some of the work done by our wonderful committees, of which we have 14 in total. They are the heart of our legal community and are the engine room for so much of the work that Birmingham Law Society does for the benefit of our members and their clients. The contributions that feature later in this magazine were written before the Coronavirus had taken hold in Europe. Since that time, a number of our committees have sprung into action to address challenges that the pandemic poses within their area of expertise. For example, our Property and Development Committee have raised concerns and have been party to national conversations about the impact of the virus on conveyancing contracts where a party having to self-isolate can impact on timescales between exchange and completion.
Meanwhile, our Pro Bono Committee has offered its support to the national response to the increased legal need amongst vulnerable groups, which the ongoing situation will inevitably give rise to. It is also hosting a local discussion to address this issue in the region. These are just some examples of the ways that I have seen our legal community come together over the last week. I am sure there will be countless more examples in the weeks and months to come.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish my successor, Inez Brown, all the very best as she takes over as President. Despite doing so in these most challenging of times, I have no doubt she will serve the Birmingham legal community excellently and will ably supported by her fellow Officers.
Finally, I wish each of you, your colleagues and loved ones the very best for the coming months. I hope you remain safe and well and I look forward to the many opportunities that lie ahead for our legal community to come together in person once again once we have weathered this storm together.