It has been a privilege and pleasure to serve the Tees Valley Law Society as honorary president for the past nearly four years! It has not been an easy time for the profession, or indeed for the country. In particular, the dreadful covid pandemic has affected all of us, and indeed I think that despite the gradual return to normal life, we are still just about recovering.
I have been most fortunate to have worked with, and made the acquaintance of some wonderfully talented, professional and dedicated lawyers, and indeed members of other professions who practice throughout this region. Their commitment to the prosperity and advancement of this wonderful part of England has been truly inspiring.
Tees Valley Law Society has a long and proud history. Originally called the South Durham and North Yorkshire Law Society, it was founded in 1874; in two year’s time, it will celebrate its 150th anniversary!
Its stated objectives then, were:
- the protection of the rights and privileges and the advancement of the character, status and interests of attorneys and solicitors practising in South Durham and North Yorkshire;
- the promotion of honourable practice;
- the settlement of disputed points in practice; and
- the decision of questions of professional usage and courtesy.
Getting back to the present day, Tees Valley Law Society is independent of the UK Law Society, but works closely with the national society, in representing the values and interests of the solicitor’s profession generally.
Within Tees Valley, we estimate there are around 1,200 solicitors on the Roll, the majority of whom are engaged in private practice; we estimate that around 15% of that number work in-house throughout the region. As a society, our priority is to help represent our members in the region, and the firms both small and large who provide legal services to the community at large. We endeavour to achieve this through being a voice for our members, and through representing their interests to the national Law Society.
One of the most enjoyable tasks of the sitting President of TVLS is to attend and speak at the swearing-in ceremonies of new full-time appointees to the District Court. Over the past years, I was fortunate to be invited to speak at four such ceremonies, all of which had a connection to the Tees Valley.
We are fortunate in Tees Valley to have an exceptional cadre of judges, and we look forward to working with them into the future.
Our annual dinner is the social highlight of the TVLS year, always so superbly organised by Nicola Neilsen. Unfortunately this has not been able to take place for several years due to the pandemic. We are adamant that a dinner will take place in 2023, for which planning will soon commence. I am already excited.
Education and Training
One of the most popular attractions of membership of the Society is the ability to avail of low cost, relevant, professional, ongoing education and training seminars which the society organises on a regular basis. Feedback from attendees has been very favourable and we hope to run a further 6 /8 courses over the course of the coming year.
I mentioned earlier that as a local law society, we strive to represent the interests of our members on a broader, and national level, by acting as a voice. However, to make the most of our efforts, it is vital that we hear that voice. I therefore encourage all our members to engage with us, and to join us as we continue our work for the ultimate good of our profession, and our region.
In closing, I would like to place on record my gratitude to the support and cooperation of TVLS members and the TVLS Council. Most particularly, I would like to thank Nicola Neilson, who has unfailingly served the TVLS and the profession for over twenty years. Nicola has last evening informed me of her decision not to stand for re-election to council this year. As a colleague and friend, I am sure we will be unanimous in expressing our gratitude to Nicola for her unstinting support and tireless input for so many years. Thank you Nicola.
I would also like to give mention to Adam Crute, Chris Noon, Michelle Coulson and Mel Morley of council for their tireless work and patience throughout the year. Chris Noon handed the Presidential baton back to me three years ago, and he is still smiling. Thank you Chris!
Mel Morley is due to take over as President of TVLS for 2022/23, and I wish her all the very best for the year, and take this opportunity to assure her of my ongoing support throughout her term of office.
Thank you all!
Tees Valley Law Society