It’s December. Christmas. Advent. A time of reflection and thanksgiving, putting me in a reflective mood as I look back to two Decembers ago when I first assumed my current role. I remember it took me ages to come up with my first message for this LawGazette and worries of whether anything I wrote in that message would prove that I was unsuitable and unfit for the job weighed me down as I pored over every word in my draft. Two years on with still plenty ahead for me to learn and grow into, I nevertheless feel a sense of satisfaction that these two years have been the most fruitful phase in my working life and I am now more confident in what I do and the decisions I have to make. I have also stepped out of my comfort zone and acquired knowledge in many areas, both legal and non-legal. The knowledge that all of this would not have been possible without the unceasing support of Council (in particular President and other office bearers), all you members and my colleagues at Secretariat humbles me and overwhelms me with gratitude.
Recent events have reminded me of the reason for my passion for this job. The proposed Civil Justice Reforms saw Council, Members and Secretariat working hand-in-hand to ensure feedback was promptly and accurately conveyed to the government. I sat through my first Council Meeting that ended at 11pm. I flew off for my family vacation (which unfortunately could not be postponed) in the wee hours of 22 November, anxious for the fate of our profession and the outcome of the second townhall with the Ministry of Law which was to take place that very same day. When I touched down at Stansted Airport on 23 November and turned on my phone, imagine my surprise to receive countless messages to the tune of “Delphine, have you heard the good news? You can go ahead and enjoy your holiday in peace now!” More than merely enjoying my holiday in peace, to me this episode affirmed that our work at the Law Society matters. It affirmed that the government and stakeholders are listening to us. It affirmed that our approach of giving logical, well-reasoned and well-evidenced feedback works. It affirmed that when all members unite and work together, we can and do achieve plenty.
The Law Society in these two years under the leadership of President Gregory has seen many firsts. We set up our first taskforce which focuses on issues faced by our female members and in the new year, a full-fledged committee, the Women In Practice Committee will co-exist alongside the taskforce. We held the inaugural Young Lawyers’ Townhall last year and the Young Lawyers Committee released a report. A new Legal Productivity and Innovation (LPI) Department was set up to assist members in navigating through the maze of legal tech and to disburse subsidies to members for tech adoption, both on behalf of the government through the “Tech Start for Law” initiative as well as from our own Education Fund through the “Smart Law Assist” scheme. Our “Lawyers Go Global” programme multiplied opportunities for members to widen their international network through mission trips to countries like China, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Australia. We stepped up on pastoral care programmes for our members, launching a dedicated hotline, Members Assistance and Care Hotline (MACH), as a one-stop shop to make it easier for members to gain access to our various pastoral care avenues. This was quickly followed by the setting up of the PracMentor scheme. Last month, we procured Group Personal Accident coverage for all our members (at no cost to members). Our erstwhile Knowledge Management Department transformed into the Legal Research and Development (LRD) Department with an expanded mandate. We also held the inaugural Family Law Conference and the inaugural Cybersecurity Conference this year.
I will keep you posted on some of the Council, Committee and Secretariat 2019 workplans in the next issue of the Law Gazette. It now leaves me to wish every member peace, blessings and best of health in the new year!