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About the Law Society

The Law Society exercises statutory functions under the Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2015 in relation to the education, admission, enrollment, discipline and regulation of the solicitors’ profession. These statutory functions are exercised by the Council or by committees to which the Council delegates those statutory functions. It is the professional body for its solicitor members, to whom it also provides services and support.

ANNUAL REPORT VIDEO 2020/21

View highlights from the 2020/21 Annual report in the short video below.

GOVERNANCE STRUCTURE

The Law Society is governed by a Council, comprising elected and nominated members of the solicitors’ profession. The director general is the chief executive of the Law Society, with all of the powers and responsibilities usually vested in a chief executive.

A new Council is selected every year in November. It delegates statutory functions to a range of committees. A president and two vice-presidents are elected each year from among the elected Council members.

PRESIDENT'S REPORT

As I began my year as president, I made a commitment to lead the profession during the next phase of the pandemic – business recovery.

‘Working together, apart’ during the highest level of restrictions, the collegiality long associated with our profession has been the unwavering lynchpin that will enable us to work together to build a stable foundation for the future.

Small practices

I am a long-standing advocate for the need to enable solicitors to provide much-needed legal services in their local communities. The Small Practice Traineeship Grant was offered for a second consecutive year to help with the cost of employing a trainee solicitor. This grant can help to ensure a continuity of legal services in our communities.

Small practices have shown great resilience, and they continue to adapt to meet the challenges of the day. The Small Practice Information Sessions, launched in 2020, have proved especially popular. These weekly online sessions are free to access and cover a breadth of topics, including cyber-security, developing a paperless office, and merging or retiring from practice. Links to past information sessions and all other practice supports, advice, and tools can be viewed in the Law Society’s online ‘Small Practice Business Hub’.

I offer my thanks to all colleagues who took the time to participate in the Business Recovery Survey. Your feedback and experiences of the impact of the pandemic will help to inform the Law Society’s small practice supports as we prepare for the future.

Negative interest rates

New bank charges on client accounts – so-called ‘negative interest’ – was a key issue facing the profession this year.

I proudly sat on the Negative Interest Rates Task Force and advocated the concerns of colleagues to the financial institutions. The Law Society initiated a public-facing campaign to highlight the injustice of these new charges to our clients, with a focus on the impact on home buyers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank local bar associations for their support of this collaborative effort. Work on this matter is ongoing.

Personal injuries guidelines

In April 2021, I called out insurance industry spin – aimed against solicitors – that serves solely to deflect blame for ever-rising premiums. Following the introduction of the new Personal Injuries Guidelines that month, it was vital to defend the profession and our clients by calling on the insurance industry to commit to passing on savings arising from reduced damages to consumers. While our call was widely reported in the media, the insurance industry has not yet published such a commitment.

Judicial Appointments Commission During an appearance before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice in May, I, together with director general Mary Keane, advocated for balance among the membership of the Judicial Appointments Commission. It is critically important that a representative from each branch of the profession, including solicitors, is appointed to this commission.

International justice

In a time of continued threats to democracy globally, it has never been more important for international law societies and bar associations to stand together to ensure that the rule of law is upheld in all jurisdictions. The Law Societies of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland issued two joint statements in the past year, to condemn threats against lawyers following the Myanmar coup, and sanctions by China against lawyers providing legal advice on human-rights violations against the Uyghur people in Xinjiang. The Law Society also supported the inaugural International Fair Trial Day in June to highlight the deteriorating human-rights situation and lack of fair trial standards reported in Turkey.

Wellbeing

The impact of COVID-19 is still being felt. Solicitors have continued to work in the heart of communities nationwide throughout the pandemic, but we must be conscious of minding our own mental health and look out for our colleagues. I encourage you to access the online Professional Wellbeing Hub to learn about the wellbeing supports available to members.

The Dignity Matters survey, launched in April, marked further progress in the Society’s commitment to improving gender equality, diversity and inclusion across the solicitors’ profession. I wish to extend my thanks to each colleague who participated in this important survey, mindful that this may have been difficult for some. The results will play an important role in creating recommendations on how to tackle bullying, harassment and sexual harassment in our profession.

Senior counsel

In June 2021, it was announced that a further 12 solicitors would be granted Patents of Precedence, including two past-presidents of the Law Society. I congratulate my colleagues on this professional achievement. May we continue to demonstrate the leadership that will pave the way for a more inclusive and balanced legal profession, to reflect modern Irish society.

Personal highlight

To reiterate my statement at the start of my term, it is a great honour and a wonderful privilege to serve as President of the Law Society of Ireland and to lead the Irish solicitors’ profession. A personal highlight of this time is the real possibility of being able to present a unique bronze plaque to each solicitor who has practiced for 40 years.

Despite the great challenges we may have faced this year, we have emerged a stronger profession, looking forward together. And though the current situation has prevented me from meeting many of you in person through the course of my work, I have benefited from your contributions and support no less.

I ask members to join me in a special word of thanks to our Council members and director general, who have attended a record number of Council meetings this year, with robust debates and contributions. Your Council is composed of a remarkable body of people. This word of thanks extends to all the members of the specialist committees.

Despite the great challenges we may have faced this year, we have emerged a stronger profession, looking forward together. And though the current situation has prevented me from meeting many of you in person through the course of my work, I have benefited from your contributions and support no less.

Finally, I would like to thank former director general Ken Murphy for his remarkable contribution to the Law Society and the profession over the past 26 years.

 

James Cahill
President

DIRECTOR GENERAL'S REPORT

Perseverance in the pursuit of access to justice continues to be the driving force for the solicitors’ profession.

Faced with evolving restrictions on society and business, resilience and innovation prevailed, as our members have continued to work diligently on behalf of their clients. Indeed, the Law Society’s advertising campaign reflects the unwavering commitment that solicitors give to their clients.

Volunteerism

In my first annual report update as director general, I would like to reflect on the spirit of collegiality among our committee and Council members. Many hundreds of solicitors contribute to the work of the Law Society through membership of our committees, task forces, and working groups. In doing so, these solicitors volunteer countless hours to provide expertise and guidance to advance access to justice for all citizens.

With ‘essential-service provider’ designation, solicitors have adapted and remained open for business through each phase of the pandemic to date. So, too, has the Law Society, and my colleagues on the Society’s staff have continued to embrace new ways of working and technology to deliver world-class education, services, and supports for members. Collegiality has triumphed, despite limited opportunities to collaborate in person.

Engagement

Engagement with the Minister for Justice, the Courts Service, other State bodies, and Government departments has continued, as issues are debated and preparations to emerge from pandemic restrictions progress. We work closely with colleagues and decision-makers across the legal landscape to share your valuable feedback and experiences of working on the frontlines of the justice system. Over the past year, we engaged with our members on important issues through various surveys, the results of which will help to inform the development of future Law Society supports. As part of our COVID-19 response, the Business Recovery Survey sought to identify the impact of the pandemic on firms of all sizes. The findings revealed that the profession adapted with speed, innovated, and invested in new technologies to maintain or expand business. The Law Society is here for you every step along the road to recovery.

Dignity Matters

You will have heard much about the Dignity Matters survey over the past year – and for good reason. This is the first survey of its kind to address bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment in the solicitors’ profession in Ireland. Following concerning findings about the global legal profession published in the International Bar Association ‘Us Too?’ report in 2019, and a motion from members at the 2020 annual general meeting, it was time for the Law Society to assess these issues in an Irish context.

The resulting Dignity Matters report is, undoubtedly, stark reading. Bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment were reported by practitioners – past and present. Incidents are rarely reported, for reasons that include fear of repercussion. Where reporting occurs, those engaging in these behaviours are unlikely to face adequate consequences. I commend our members for providing experiences of difficult situations concerning this highly sensitive subject matter. Please know that your participation will contribute to the future of the profession where workplace culture is grounded in dignity and respect.

The Law Society is proud, as I trust you are also, to have taken this proactive approach to understand the extent of the issues. We must now come together and do the work to stamp out behaviour that has no place in the solicitors’ profession.

The profession is predicated on the highest ethical standards. For this reason, in particular, the findings detailed in this report, authored by independent consultants Crowe, present an uncomfortable reality. Yet, having the true workplace experience of our members before us, we can now take meaningful action to ensure dignity at work for all.

The evidence-based recommendations for change in the report show that it is within our collective power to create a workplace that reflects the values of the profession – integrity, trust, collegiality, and respect. This is the first step in an important journey. I ask that you join us as we embark on an ambitious programme of change to support a culture of dignity, respect, and inclusivity in the solicitors’ profession.

I urge members who experience distress due to the findings detailed in the report to contact LegalMind (1800 814 177) – and for trainees, support is available through Law School Psychological Services.

Significant progress was made on the Law Society’s digital-first strategy. In December, the online practising certificate renewal application launched to streamline the process. The digital Law Directory was launched in July to positive feedback. In addition to reducing the environmental impact of the annual hard-copy directory, the convenient online format allows members to access the most up-to-date information in real time.

Oireachtas appearance

Alongside President James Cahill, I addressed the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice to express deep concern at the exclusion of the solicitors’ profession from the proposed Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC). Solicitors are subject-matter experts across a broad range of areas of law, operate at every level of seniority, and have first-hand experience of the impact of the courts system on the public.

It is inconceivable that solicitors would be excluded from the proposed JAC, and balance across judicial appointments is needed to reflect the diversity of modern Irish society. As I noted during this address: “Diversity is being invited to the party, but inclusion is being asked to dance. We’d like to see more solicitors being asked to dance!”

Sewing the Sail

The resilience and collegiality demonstrated within the profession and the Society this year draws to mind a favourite impressionist painting, Sewing the Sail by the Spanish master of light, Joaquin Sorolla. This colourful oil painting depicts a community coming together to mend the sail of a boat at the beginning of the annual fishing season, and it is a personal favourite. It illustrates such a strong collegiate spirit, with the community driven by a shared goal at the start of another season of endeavour. Its message might resonate with many within the profession as we emerge from recent dark times and start another legal year in anticipation of brighter days ahead.

 

Mary Keane,
Director General

Performance Overview

The Law Society of Ireland’s Strategy Statement 2019-2023 sets out the strategic objectives that the Society will follow.

  1. We will use our voice,our experience and our relationships to represent the solicitors’ profession and to champion its contribution to the Irish economy, the vindication of citizens’ rights and the rule of law.
  2. We will provide a strong voice in policy debate in order to inform decision-making on matters pertaining to the justice system and law reform.
  3. We will enable our members to achieve their potential as respected and trusted advisors and successful businesses.
  4. We will fulfill our statutory regulation functions to ensure fair and effective regulation of solicitors in the interests of the profession and the public.
  5. We will fulfill our statutory education functions in delivering a premier qualification and high-quality ongoing education and training.
  6. We will be a valued resource for our members as a high-performance professional body.
  7. We will continue our tradition of engaged citizenship and civic responsibility by promoting legal awareness, encouraging social diversity within the profession, supporting local community initiatives, and providing accessibility to our resources at Blackhall Place, in line with our Corporate Social Responsibility Statement.

Top Ten Stories of 2020/2021

  1. HISTORY MADE AS SOLICITORS GRANTED PATENTS OF PRECEDENCE

    History was made on 9 October 2020 as 17 solicitors from throughout Ireland were formally granted Patents of Precedence, and given the designation of Senior Counsel, in an online ceremony presided over by the then Chief Justice Frank Clarke. Another batch of 12 solicitors received their Patents of Precedence on 15 June 2021, bringing the total number of solicitors to 29 who are currently permitted to use the ‘SC’ designation.

  2. LANDMARK ‘DIGNITY MATTERS’ STUDY LAUNCHED

    In May 2021, the Society launched a first-of-its-kind, evidence-based study into bullying, harassment and sexual harassment in the Irish solicitors’ profession. The study followed a motion proposed by Law Society members and approved at the Society’s AGM in November 2020. The research included an independent and confidential survey of all solicitor trainees and solicitors who are practicing or have previously practiced in Ireland.

  3. KEEPING LEGAL SERVICES OPEN DURING THE COVID CRISIS

    At a meeting of the Oireachtas Special Committee on COVID-19 Response, in September 2020, the Law Society recommended mitigating Constitutional and legal risk arising from swiftly enacted emergency legislation; enhancing the clarity of regulations and communications; investment in fit-for-purpose technology platforms in support of remote court hearings; investment in the Courts Service infrastructure and resources; and consistent application of robust safety measures for people in custody and their solicitors in garda stations.

  4. SOCIETY CALLS FOR CLIENT-ACCOUNT EXEMPTION FROM NEW BANK CHARGES

    The Law Society called for solicitor client accounts to be exempt from a proposed new charge, so-called 'negative interest', from two of the country’s leading national banks. The call, in February 2021, came as solicitors who are customers of AIB and Bank of Ireland were notified of the banks’ intentions to introduce a charge on all moneys, including home mortgage loans, held in solicitor client accounts. The Society described the proposed new charges as “unjust, over-charging, and contrary to public policy and consumer protection”.

  5. OVER 3,500 SOLICITORS AND TRAINEE SOLICITORS BENEFIT FROM FREE CPD

    The Law Society of Ireland’s response to the COVID-19 crisis saw more than 3,500 solicitors and trainee solicitors register for free continuous professional development (CPD) courses. The Society provided these courses free of charge to assist with learning and upskilling during the pandemic restrictions. In addition, it offered discounts to solicitors whose employment has been affected by the crisis.

  6. NEW PI GUIDELINES FALL SHORT OF PROTECTING CONSUMERS

    The Law Society warned in April 2021 that the commencement of the “much-lauded” Personal Injuries Guidelines represented a new and unwelcome departure for compensation to victims of personal injury. The effect of the severe reductions outlined in the guidelines would leave many injured people substantially undercompensated, the Society argued. “The insurance companies like to put the blame on victims and their solicitors, while they are the ones reaping enormous profits," President Cahill said.

  7. SMALL PRACTICE TRAINEESHIP GRANT SCHEME WORTH €125K

    The Law Society announced its 2021 Small Practice Traineeship Grant scheme in June 2021 to assist with the cost of employing a trainee solicitor and boost smaller solicitor practices in rural Ireland. Each of the five grants includes funding of €18,000 to the training firm over the course of the two-year training contract, and funding of €7,000 to the trainee solicitor by way of a discount on the PPC1 fee.

  8. RECIPROCAL QUALIFYING AGREEMENT WITH ENGLAND AND WALES

    The Law Society reached a reciprocal qualifying agreement with the Solicitors Regulation Authority in England and Wales in April 2021, which allows an Irish- qualified solicitor to add their name to the Roll of Solicitors in England and Wales without having to sit the Qualified Lawyers Transfer Scheme. Irish solicitors will also be exempt from the Solicitors Qualifying Examination. Similarly, solicitors qualified in England and Wales can apply for a certificate of admission to the Irish Roll without having to sit additional examinations.

  9. WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP PROGRAMME 2021/22

    Female solicitors from all areas of practice were invited by the Law Society to apply for the Women in Leadership Programme 2021/22. This mentorship programme aims to empower and support women in advancing their careers to senior leadership positions. The programme is offered to female solicitors across the country who have been qualified for a minimum of five years, while applications to become a mentor are welcomed from both female and male colleagues. It is presented by the Law Society in collaboration with Law Society Finuas Skillnet.

  10. ABANDONING THE OUTDATED ‘DEAR SIRS’ SALUTATION

    The Law Society launched a new policy in October 2020 to discontinue the outdated male-centric ‘Dear Sirs’ salutation, saying that the move would make “our written communications reflect a more equal, diverse and inclusive profession”. The Society is encouraging all colleagues across the legal profession to adopt greetings that have a more inclusive, modern approach. Women now make up over 51% of the profession.

FACTS ABOUT THE PROFESSION

 

THE YEAR IN REVIEW

SURVEY ON PANDEMIC IMPACT

The Law Society undertook research to assess the impact of the COVID pandemic on law firms.

The business recovery survey, conducted with the help of consultants Crowe, was sent to managing partners and firm principals. The data gathered will be used to represent the profession at all levels, including interactions with Government.

It will also inform the new supports that the Society will introduce to help firms emerging from the crisis.

SIGNING ON THE DOTTED LINE

The Law Society has invited firms across Ireland to show their commitment to workplace wellbeing by signing up to its Professional Wellbeing Charter.

The charter is an initiative of the Society’s Professional Wellbeing Project, which is com- mitted to the wellbeing of all members and the creation and maintenance of positive workplace cultures that support both wellbeing and psychological health.

Project coordinator Julie Breen says: “Having the charter in place makes clear to employees that a firm really cares about mental health. The charter should help to reduce stigma, but no one firm can do this on its own, since there has to be a collaborative effort across the legal profession. “In terms of talent retention, there is absolutely a business gain to this. Productivity levels go up where there is psychological safety and where people feel more aligned to the purpose of the firm. That engenders a deep sense of belonging.” 

NEW SOLICITOR SCS NOMINATED

Twelve solicitors and 25 barristers were granted patents of precedence on 7 October 2021, allowing them to use the designation ‘senior counsel’. This is only the second time that solicitors have been able to apply to become SCs. They join the 17 solicitors who were approved in 2020.

Of the 12 solicitor recipients, all are based in Dublin and five are women. Only five of the 25 new barrister SCs are women.

The solicitor SCs received their patents of precedence from outgoing Chief Justice Frank Clarke at a ceremony at the Supreme Court. They are Raymond Bradley, Geraldine Clarke, Nicola Dunleavy, Alison Fanagan, Larry Fenelon, Stuart Gilhooly, Damien Keogh, Conor Linehan, Rachel Minch, Geoffrey Shannon, Helen Sheehy, and Keith Walsh. 

DG STEPS DOWN AFTER 26 YEARS

Ken Murphy retired as the Law Society’s director general in March 2021. He served 26 years in the role and had almost 40 years of service in total, including his 12 years on Council prior to his appointment as DG in 1995.

Murphy was, by far, the longest-serving CEO of any national bar or law society in the world. He guided the Society through a period of great change and expansion, from approximately 5,000 solicitors on the Roll of Solicitors when he took up office, to over 22,000 today.

The Council paid tribute to him at his final meeting on 19 March, presenting him with a silver salver bearing the signatures of all the presidents who had served during his term of office. Law Society President James Cahill described him as “a forward-looking, yet lateral thinker” who was “fiercely, fearlessly and clinically defensive of the profession in his endless meetings, discussions, negotiations, and media appearances over the years”. 

FIRST WOMAN DG

Mary Keane was appointed as the Law Society’s director general on an interim basis by the Council at its meeting on 19 March. She made history by becoming the Society’s first-ever female DG.

Keane joined the Society in 1992 as policy development executive, working alongside then director general Noel Ryan. She was appointed deputy director general in 1996, becoming the first woman to be appointed to a director’s role in the Society’s history.

She became director of the Policy, Communication and Member Services Department in December 1997. Currently, she is director of the Policy and Public Affairs Department, and continues in that role.

Keane is also chair of the National Gallery of Ireland, serving on the 17-member board since 2014 and taking the chair in March 2020.  

CALCUTTA RUN IN STRONG FIGHT TO THE FINISH

The Virtual Calcutta Run took place from 17-26 September 2021 – the second year for the event to go virtual.

Once again, members of the profession, their families, and friends got fully behind the event to fundraise by running, walking, or cycling a collective target of 10,000km – representing the distance from Ireland to Kolkata.

Calcutta Run 2021 Women in Kolkata Calcutta Run 2021 Volunteer Runners 

Volunteers at the Hope Foundation in Kolkata and Law Society staff heading out

A big thanks to everyone who took part from the Hope Foundation, Kolkata; Law Society staff heading out on their 5km Phoenix Park run from Blackhall Place; 

DIGNITY MATTERS SURVEY LAUNCHED

In a bid to tackle oppressive workplace cultures, the Law Society carried out an independent study on bullying, sexual, and other forms of harassment in the solicitors’ profession. The aim is to provide an objective assessment of the current work environment as it relates to these matters.

The confidential ‘Dignity Matters’ survey was carried out in mid-2021 with the help of external consultants Crowe. Law Society members, both practicing and non-practicing, as well as Blackhall Place trainees, were invited by Crowe to participate.

The goal is to help transform workplace culture. The research provides recommendations on how best to tackle bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment in the profession. A change programme to implement the recommendations will follow, upon approval by the Law Society Council. 

SOCIETY ALARMED AT PROPOSED JAC SOLICITOR EXCLUSION

In an address to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice in May, Law Society President James Cahill and director general Mary Keane expressed deep concern about the proposed exclusion of the profession from the Judicial Appointments Commission (JAC).

“It is critically important that a representative from each branch of the profession is appointed to the commission,” President Cahill stressed.

“After 25 years of faithful service to the Judicial Appointments Advisory Board, we get sent outside the door on the proposed JAC?” Mary Keane said.

The Society retained substantial expertise, having served on the board since its establishment. “We don’t embrace the reduction in [JAC] numbers to nine if it means that the representatives of the practicing professions are excluded,” Keane continued. The bid to embrace diversity must include solicitor expertise in judicial appointments. She added: “You can have all the diversity you want in terms of eligibility, but if people aren’t actually appointed, then diversity becomes meaningless.”

Of 90 judicial appointments made to the superior courts from 2002 (when solicitors became eligible for appointment) to 2016, only eight have been solicitors. 

Society Alarmed at Proposed JAC Solicitor Exclusion Screenshot of Committee Meeting

Director General Mary Keane addresses the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice in May

 

SIGN OF THE TIMES

The Law Society’s PPC1 trainees were incredibly busy this year, setting up social and cultural groups never before seen at Blackhall Place. The Legal Sign Language Society hosted classes tailored to the legal profession, with courses by TCD assistant professor of deaf studies Patrick Matthews and ISL interpreter Pauline McMahon. In all, five six-week courses were held, with a total of 61 trainees completing their certification.

Sign of the Times Remote video call with ISL

PPC1 Trainees take part in ISL classes tailored to the legal profession

LEGAL SERVICES EXCELLENCE STANDARD

The Law Society will soon be launching the Legal Services Excellence Standard. This voluntary new practice-management standard for members was first announced at the AGM in 2020.

The standard is the result of six years of design and development by the Practice Management Standard Working Group. It will be certified through the National Standards Authority of Ireland.

There are four requirements in the standard, with a specific set of criteria for each:

  • Business planning, development and continuity,
  • Infrastructure,
  • Operational systems (client care), and
  • Human resources, competence and knowledge management.

Applicants can acquire all of the information relating to the certification process through the Legal Services Excellence Standard online portal, which is currently under development. 

SPECIAL HONOUR FOR EAMONN HALL

A special tribute was paid to a very special solicitor in Blackhall Place on 18 August 2020. A room was named in honor of Dr Eamonn Hall, in recognition of a lifetime’s contribution to education in the Law Society and to the solicitors’ profession generally.

Eamonn was only the second individual to receive this honor in their lifetime – the other being former Law Society President Michael V O’Mahony (1993/94), who was present for this event.

Dr Hall was the chief examiner in constitutional law for the FE1s from 1981 to 2006. He was also a regular contributor to the professional practice courses.

He was an outstanding contributor for many years to the Gazette as a member of the editorial board, serving as its chair for seven years. In addition, he co-edited, with Dara Hogan, the leading book on the history of the solicitors’ profession in Ireland, Portrait of a Profession.

He was also a central figure in the work of the Faculty of Notaries Public in Ireland, and his contribution to law reporting in Ireland is considered to be unparalleled. He served as a member of the Incorporated Council of Law Reporting for more than 30 years, working closely with leading members of the judiciary and the Bar in the production of the Irish Reports. He is the only solicitor in its long history to have chaired the Council of Law Reporting.

Special Honour for Eamonn Hall Man standing bedside door

Eamonn is now honored by a room permanently in his name

The legal luminary passed away on 21 November 2020 following a brave battle with illness.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam. 

SECOND CAPTAINS' WIN

A podcast series that took a deep-dive into the child- abuse allegations surrounding one of Ireland’s most famous swimming coaches won the Overall Award at the 2021 Justice Media Awards.

Mark Horgan and Ciarán Cassidy, of the Second Captains programme for BBC Sounds, won the award for their production ‘Where is George Gibney?’ The judges described the series as “a remarkable piece of journalism and an extraordinary listen”. It also took the top prize in the ‘Broadcast Journalism (Radio/ Podcast – National)’ category.

The overall winner was selected from a total of 200 entries, received from more than 130 journalists across Ireland. In total, 39 awards and merits were presented across 12 categories, including four prizes in the new category of ‘Best Student Journalism’.

Overall winners of the Justice Media Awards 2021 were Ciarán Cassidy and Mark Horgan of Second Captains

ECO-LAW MOOC MOST SUCCESSFUL YET

Over 4,000 people participated in the seventh annual massive open online course (MOOC) in environmental law and climate change, delivered by the Diploma Centre team in summer 2021. 

The MOOC provided a short, incisive overview of the legal and ethical considerations for those involved in environmental law, and the environmental and conservation spheres.

Participants hailed from 50 countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Switzerland, France, Britain, Greece, Hong Kong, Ireland, Israel, India, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Nigeria, Netherlands, Pakistan, Portugal, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. 

NEW INSIGNIA LAUNCHED 

The Law Society has developed exclusive insignias for signatories to the Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI) Charter and the Professional Wellbeing Charter.

Signatories can use the insignias on firm stationery, websites, social media, business cards, and other marketing materials to publicly promote their commitment to the charters.

The charters and their insignias can also help inform future employees, clients and colleagues that a firm takes professional wellbeing and gender equality, diversity and inclusion seriously, and is striving to improve these in its workplace.

Law Society Professional Wellbeing Charter Signatory Insignia Law Society Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Charter Signatory Insignia

The newly launched insignias

For more information on the charters and their insignias, visit www.lawsociety.ie/gedi and www.lawsociety.ie/wellbeingcharter.  

PIGS V WOLF JUDGMENT SHOCKER!

There was a surprise twist in the Three Little Pigs case at the St Francis Xavier’s Street Law Court on 4 June, when Alex T Wolf (aka ‘Big Bad’) was acquitted on all charges – including two for murder.

Pupil's from St Francis Xavier take part in the Street Law Court

The mock trial, DPP vs Big Bad Wolf, was the culmination of weeks of work by over 30 primary pupils through the Street Law programme, run by the Law Society. Street Law is a programme that adopts a practical approach, tapping into students’ interest in the law and aiming to promote legal literacy, access to law, and social skills through learning about legal matters.

Street Law Programme Children in costume

The Big Bad Wolf faces the DPP in the Street Law Court

The St Francis Xavier’s pupils started their programme in April 2021 in a specially created ‘outdoor classroom’. It dealt with topics such as natural justice, the structure of the Constitution, and how the court system works. Courtroom practices included witness testimony and how to make objections during a criminal trial.

The school plans to continue with the Street Law programme for many years to come – there are rumors of Rapunzel v Witch being set down for trial in 2022.  

SCHOOL’S IN FOR SUMMER

Over 1,500 transition and fifth-year students from across Ireland took part in the Law Society’s inaugural online Legal Ambitions Summer School in July 2020. Such was its success, it was repeated in July 2021, with a similar intake.

The outreach programme is designed to encourage students to consider a career in law, and offers an insight into the role of a solicitor in practice. The summer school was delivered entirely online and covered themes such as social justice, human rights, and climate change.

ANTI-MONEY LAUNDERING ACTIVITIES

The legal profession is being targeted globally by professional money-launderers and, at the same time, solicitors are subject to complex statutory anti-money laundering (AML) obligations.

Likewise, the Society itself has statutory duties with regard to supervising and enforcing solicitor AML compliance. International and European evaluations of effectiveness have become non-stop, with new policy and law reform initiatives constantly emerging.

While the scale of the challenge may be daunting, the Society has developed a number of measures to aid solicitors’ understanding of the risk to their firms, as well as their compliance duties, through outreach, guidance, training, and supervision – while also responding to the evolving landscape for both solicitor and supervisor AML.

AML Guidance and Resources

The anti-money laundering (AML) webpage (www. lawsociety.ie/aml) has been visited over 6,000 times, with an average download rate of 1,900. The business risk assessment (2,263) and policies, controls and procedures forms (2,072) remain the most popular sample adaptable forms for AML compliance. Throughout the pandemic crisis, email and telephone support continued to be provided to solicitors navigating complex AML and countering the financing of terrorism (CFT) duties.

AML training

Working together, the Policy and Public Affairs and Education Departments have provided:

  • Free online AML training to over 3,500 solicitors,
  • Bespoke AML training for PPC students,
  • AML training at the annual Law Society Professional Training and Dublin Solicitors’ Bar Association practice regulation conference,
  • Training on EU lawyer AML to over 1,000 European lawyers as part of the European Commission’s funded training, delivered by ELF and CCBE.

Supervision and enforcement

The Regulation Department continues to supervise solicitor AML compliance as part of the Law Society’s responsibility for financial regulation of the profession. These activities satisfy EU requirements with regard to fit and proper persons. The Society’s 11 investigating accountants examine AML compliance, with approximately 300 firms inspected this year.

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions on movement, the Society continued to monitor solicitors’ compliance with their AML duties through a system of desktop reviews. Assessments involve a review of the firms’ policies, controls and procedures, with evidence required of business-risk assessment, client-risk assessments, client due diligence, and staff training. Investigation reports that issue after every inspection contain a dedicated section examining AML matters. The Society has the power to refer evidence of non-compliance to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal and/or take any other steps necessary. Some of the referrals during the year included AML issues. Updated implementing regulations were published in November 2020 and, in compliance with the statutory duty to report suspicions of non-compliance, the Law Society’s Money Laundering Reporting Committee submitted four reports to Ireland’s relevant authorities.

Representation and law reform

The Law Society made submissions to the relevant Government departments in relation to the transposition of the Fourth and Fifth Money Laundering Directives and enactment of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Act 2021. AML activities also included (a) participation in EU Commission/ Council of Europe assessments of AML compliance and supervision, (b) contribution to EU-level AML policy development and assessments, and (c) continued engagement in Ireland’s FATF Progress Reports.

Priorities for the coming year

The Law Society’s AML priorities for 2021/22 include publishing guidance to help solicitors transitioning to the 2021 act, responding to the outcome of the Council of Europe's assessment of the 4AMLD transposition, contributing to the work of the national AML Steering Committee, as well as the EU's AML Action Plan. The Society remains especially focused on helping demystify AML and de-risk firms by increasing awareness of money- laundering vulnerabilities of the legal sector.

Organisational Overview

The Law Society is led on a day-to-day basis by the director general, Mary Keane, who leads a team of six departmental heads as part of her management team.

The management team meets weekly, overseeing the implementation of the strategic plan, and providing the main conduit between the Council and its staff.

The following functional organisational chart provides an overview of the management team and information on the responsibilities of each department.

Staff List 2019/2020

View a list of Law Society staff.

 

COUNCIL of the Law Society

The Law Society of Ireland is governed by a Council, comprising elected and nominated members of the solicitors’ profession. It also delegates statutory functions to a range of committees.

Year ending 4 November 2021

The Law Society of Ireland is governed by a Council, comprising elected and nominated members of the solicitors’ profession. It also delegates statutory functions to a range of committees.

The purpose of the Council is identified in the charter of 1852 to act “for the better rule and government of the Society, and for the better direction and management of the concerns thereof ”. The statutory functions of the Society, as set out in the Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2015, are exercised by the Council or by committees to which the Council delegates those statutory functions. The Council represents the Society and its members, both in the interests of the public and of the solicitors’ profession generally.

The functions performed by Council can be divided into:

  • Representation of the members,
  • Education and admission,
  • Regulation and discipline, and
  • Protection of clients.

Council Members

The Law Society Council held its September 2021 meeting in the Town Hall Theatre, Westport, Co Mayo – the first time that it has met in the county.

The Law Society Council held its September 2021 meeting in the Town Hall Theatre, Westport, Co Mayo – the first time that it has met in the county. The meeting was the first opportunity for Council members to meet face-to-face in 18 months.

PRESIDENT: James Cahill

SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT: Michelle Ní Longáin

JUNIOR VICE-PRESIDENT: Barry MacCarthy

COUNCIL MEMBERS: 

Christopher Callan, Justine Carty, Helen Coughlan, Brendan Cunningham, Maura Derivan, Tara Doyle, Paul Egan, Richard Grogan, Richard Hammond, Eamon Harrington, Aine Hynes, Bill Holohan, Siún Hurley, Paul Keane, Liam A Kennedy, Morette Kinsella, Martin Lawlor, Gary Lee, Rosemarie Loftus, Flor McCarthy, Sonia McEntee, Michele O’Boyle, Daniel O'Connor, Valerie Peart, Carol Plunkett, Imelda Reynolds, Brendan J Twomey and Keith Walsh

PAST-PRESIDENTS: 

Patrick Dorgan, Stuart Gilhooly, Michael Quinlan

PROVINCIAL DELEGATES: 

Martin Crotty (Leinster), Shane McCarthy (Munster), Garry Clarke (Ulster), David Higgins (Connaught)

DUBLIN SOLICITORS' BAR ASSOCIATION REPRESENTATIVES: 

Tony O’Sullivan, Matthew Kenny, Susan Martin

SOUTHERN LAW ASSOCIATION REPRESENTATIVES: 

Robert Baker, Joan Byrne, Veronica Neville, Julie Rea

LAW SOCIETY OF NORTHERN IRELAND REPRESENTATIVES: 

Rowan White (president), Suzanne Rice (senior vice-president), Brigid Napier (junior vice-president), Eileen Ewing, John Guerin

 

Senior management team

Our purpose: to provide leadership and management to the Law Society and its staff, and to deliver the organisation’s strategic objectives as we support each other, solve problems, and move forward collectively.

The purpose of the senior management team is to provide leadership and management to the Law Society and its staff in order to deliver the strategic objectives as identified by the Council. The Society acts to protect and champion the rights of the profession, clients, and the public interest, while providing a responsive, courteous and efficient service to our members and the public.

At its core, the senior management team works collaboratively, with members and staff, to help fulfil the vision of the Society, which is to be the trusted voice of a respected solicitors’ profession.

The team functions as a senior executive committee, running the day-to-day operations of the Society to the highest professional standards. In addition, we continually review our systems and processes to ensure that they are fit for purpose.

We carry out our duties guided by the values of the Law Society, including gender equality, diversity and inclusion. We act with integrity and fairness, and report on our activities in a transparent manner.

Through the pandemic, the team has worked to provide clear leadership to staff, as the Society maintains all services to the highest possible standards that our members have come to expect. We have done this while maintaining strict control over costs, during what has been a challenging time for many of our members.

DIRECTORS' REPORTS

Reports from the Society's Departments of Policy and Public Affairs, Representation and Member Services, Education, Regulation, Finance and Administration and Human Resources.

POLICY AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS DEPARTMENT

The Policy and Public Affairs Department supports the Law Society’s president, Council, and committees in their representative functions with Government departments, the Oireachtas, policymakers, other law societies, and external bodies, including the International Bar Association and the CCBE (Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe).

3,500

solicitors provided with online aml training

 

Mary Keane, Director General

Mary Keane, Director General

The Policy and Public Affairs Department supports the Law Society’s president, Council, and committees in their representative functions with Government departments, the Oireachtas, policymakers, other law societies, and external bodies, including the International Bar Association and the CCBE (Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe).

Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and the mobile phone have replaced in-person meetings for the past 12 months (1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021) and will remain into the future, albeit alongside more traditional methods of interaction.

The feverish activities that followed the first lockdown have yielded, thankfully, to a steadier rhythm, although working days have remained lengthy and the virtual world is a constant.

During the relevant period, the Policy and Public Affairs Department:

  • Provided 30 submissions to State departments and agencies on issues that included the Consumer Insurance Contracts Act 2019, implementation of the O’Malley Report, the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill, the Competition (Amendment) Bill, the Family Court Bill, reform of the Mental Health Act, and transposition of the Collective Action Directive
  • Participated in two Oireachtas committee hearings (on the response to COVID-19 and the General Scheme of the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill), 
  • Attended 16 meetings of the CCBE (plenary sessions, the CCBE Standing Committee, and the Brexit Task Force), 
  • Circulated three Policy and Law Reform Agenda newsletters to elected representatives, senior decision-makers, media, and other interested parties, 
  • Made 58 lobbying returns to the Standards in Public Office Commission, 
  • Uploaded 40 entries to the Law Society’s Knowledge Management System, including policy positions, law reform submissions, and legal research, 
  • Participated in online training provision to 3,500 solicitors on anti-money-laundering (AML) requirements (see separate report on AML activities on page 28), and 
  • Supported eight scheduled and two special meetings of the Council, 12 meetings of the Coordination Committee, and ten meetings of the Committee Secretaries Group.

REPRESENTATION AND MEMBER SERVICES DEPARTMENT

 Teri Kelly, Director

Teri Kelly, Director

In order to understand the depth of financial impact the pandemic has had on the profession, we conducted the ‘Business Recovery’ research project, which included a survey of firms. The final report lays out what steps the Law Society and firms should take to help firms achieve success and sustainability through the recovery. Implementation is beginning now.

A Crisis Support helpline has continued to provide solicitors with pandemic-related assistance, and our Small Practice Support information sessions have remained popular. Career Support organized 20 career information sessions in collaboration with the Younger Members’ Committee. They also delivered the ‘Boost’ initiative to newly qualified solicitors and the ‘Resolve/ Returners’ programme to solicitors seeking a return to work. The good news is that legal vacancies jobs advertising gradually improved through the course of the year, reaching pre-pandemic levels.

This year, we also began work on the implementation and launch on the much-anticipated Legal Services Excellence Standard, which will help firms achieve business success. It is due to launch in the first quarter of 2022.

Engaging with our members, even though we were physically apart, has been key this year. We launched our Member eZine as a weekly publication to ensure you have the most relevant practice updates, as and when they happen. We have significantly increased the use of video on our digital platforms. We have enhanced our ‘Welcome’ communications, sign posting our member benefits and supports. We also initiated a PPC2 open day to share with trainees the work the Society does on behalf of our members. We ran the ‘Women in Leadership’ mentoring programme and a series of online career- information sessions for newly qualified members. As part of our digital-first strategy, we launched the digital Law Directory as an easily accessible and green alternative to the annual hard copy.

To align with our gender equality, diversity and inclusion goals, an innovative campaign was launched to retire the inaccurate and outdated ‘Dear Sirs’ phrase from all correspondence and to encourage the use of more inclusive salutations within the solicitors’ profession.

With new client-account bank charges looming, the Law Society ran an extensive national media campaign and a simultaneous regional media campaign with the support of local bar associations. This campaign championed the concerns of the profession and outlined the imposition these so-called ‘negative interest rates’ will have on ordinary consumers.

A media campaign on family law and courts reform was run to show the impact of COVID-19 on the family courts, receiving coverage across national and regional media. Subsequently, discussions between the Law Society, the Bar of Ireland, and the Courts Service resulted in the reopening of the Dublin Circuit Family Court to clear some of the backlog of cases due to the pandemic. We have refreshed the radio and print marketing campaign to include a ‘brand’ message (titled ‘Commitment’), showcasing the fundamental benefits of using a solicitor.

The Professional Wellbeing project has continued to provide invaluable supports for our members’ mental health, including LegalMind, the independent, confidential helpline and counselling service. The Professional Wellbeing Charter was also launched to assist firms support their own employees’ wellbeing. Myriad wellbeing CPD events were held, including the ‘Business of Wellbeing’ summit.

The Dignity Matters research, including member survey, was conducted, culminating in a final report, which will see action taken by the Law Society and members to stamp out bullying, harassment, and sexual harassment within the profession. Implementation is beginning now. The library, our most important member service, has continued to serve members every day throughout the pandemic, and has even managed to increase enquiries this year. As a support to members during COVID-19, the library supplied over 5,000 free documents in the period May 2020-June 2021.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Law Society Gazette and its daily online news service Gazette.ie delivered an incredibly strong performance during the year under review. The magazine, which is produced to the highest professional and ecological standards, had a monthly print-run of 13,000, which was supplemented by 12,853 downloads of the magazine in PDF format – an increase of 7.7% over the previous year. Gazette.ie excelled – setting new annual readership records. Unique pageviews grew by 31% to 860,264 (compared with 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020). The total number of pageviews hit its highest-ever total of 1.18 million readers (plus 52%).

EDUCATION DEPARTMENT

906

new solicitors were admitted to the roll in 2020, with 476 from Britain

TP Kennedy, Director

TP Kennedy, Director

This year has been one of uncertainty and continued change. Pre- and post-qualification education continued to operate as if there was no ongoing emergency.

In September 2020, a total of 418 trainees started their PPC1 on-site in Blackhall Place – we had not planned to run this course in an online format. However, fresh lockdowns intervened, and this course and the succeeding PPC2 were both run through Zoom, Panopto and other online platforms. The second Hybrid PPC started in early 2021 with 56 students, an increase on the 48 who had attended the initial course. Our planning for the 2021 PPC (which started in September) has led to the reintroduction of on-site teaching for smaller groups, while retaining the online provision of lectures.

Students have responded to the online offering very well. Participation levels have seen a greater level of engagement and interaction in terms of in-person teaching, and we have witnessed better exam results than in other years. Additional optional programmes were provided and were taken up very enthusiastically.

International skills competitions continued in an online format, and student teams won the International Client Consultation Competition for 2020 and 2021, the International Environmental Moot Court Competition, were ranked as the top negotiation team in the ADR/ODR Online Mediation Competition, and were ranked highly in every international competition entered.

Our examination section was also kept very busy. Owing to the lockdown, all examinations held over the past year had to be provided in an online format. This was done relatively quickly, and all examinations during the year were provided online, with remote invigilation.

Post-qualification education was also brought online. A variety of free courses have been provided to solicitors and trainees alike: 122 online seminars and 33 Diploma Centre courses were provided.

The year 2019 had been remarkable for admissions, with 2,381 new solicitors being admitted to the Roll. This was largely owing to the Brexit wave of 1,836 English and Welsh solicitors. Numbers fell back to 906 in 2020, with 476 admissions from the UK jurisdictions. New reciprocal agreements are now in place with the UK, but we anticipate that the number of transferring UK solicitors will fall further.

REGULATION DEPARTMENT

11,854

practising certificate holders in the jurisdiction

John Elliot, Director

John Elliot, Director

It has continued to be a case of regulation as usual, under unprecedented circumstances. Throughout the pandemic, the Law Society’s regulatory functions have remained operational on a continuous basis. This year’s practising certificate renewal saw a significant leap forward in the achievement of the Society’s ‘digital first’ objective, with all applications online. Other innovations included online query handling, online-chat helpline functionality, and digital practising certificates. There are now 11,458 practising certificate holders in the jurisdiction, of which 53% are female and 47% male. From July 2020 to June 2021, a total of 96 new firms of solicitors opened, and 76 firms closed. During that period, two solicitors were struck off the Roll of Solicitors, and one solicitor was suspended.

The Society decided to issue practising certificates only to solicitors providing legal services from an establishment based in Ireland, and to issue what are called ‘certificates of attestation’ to Irish-qualified solicitors practising solely outside the jurisdiction seeking to be admitted to a foreign bar. So far, 269 certificates of attestation have been issued.

The Regulation Department continues to meet regularly with representatives of the Legal Services Regulatory Authority. Much of the work of the Legal Services Regulation Act Task Force, supported by the Regulation Department, was focused on legal coasts, redrafting ‘Section 150’ precedents, and guidance for the new legal costs regime under the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015. This should provide both practitioners and clients with better documentation for legal costs. These documents can be found on the Society’s website.

As always, providing comprehensive support to the business of the Regulation of Practice Committee, the Professional Indemnity Insurance Committee, the Money Laundering Reporting Committee, and the Complaints and Client Relations Committee is a huge part of the work of the Regulation Department. The reports of these committees complete the picture of what the department has achieved during the year under review.

FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION DEPARTMENT

Cillian MacDomhnaill

Cillian MacDomhnaill, Director

The Finance and Administration Department provides a range of internal services and supports to the Society’s core functional areas of representation, education and regulation, which in turn provide services and support to members, students and the public. We like to regard ourselves as the ‘oil in the machine’.

Much of the department’s work over the past 12 months was driven by reacting to the COVID-19 emergency, which put huge demands on our finances, facilities and information-technology (IT) infrastructures. Despite significant hits to our income, we have weathered the financial storm. Our IT team members proved themselves very resilient, and set up almost 200 staff for remote working in a matter of days in March 2020. They have kept us up and running since then.

The facilities team worked tirelessly to ensure our buildings were safe for whatever activities we could maintain on site, and have put in place robust control measures to support our ‘Return to Office Plan’. Unfortunately, at various times over the last 12 months, up to 30 staff within the department have been on shorttime or lay-off.

Prudent management

The Finance Section ensures prudent financial management, achieving value for all money spent, and has appropriate financial processes and controls in place to protect the Society’s financial and physical assets. Financial planning is managed through a detailed budgeting process, close monitoring of finances throughout the year, and long-term financial planning through a five-year planning process. Financial controls are assured through an internal audit process. COVID-19 brought major financial challenges. All operational spending, as well as capital expenditure, has been significantly reduced in order to preserve the Society’s finances, and a detailed expenditure review is currently ongoing in order to lessen the impact of the reduction in the 2021 Practising Certificate fee, which has reduced the Society’s income by €4 million.

An ill wind

The facilities function, which has responsibility for maintaining and protecting the historic building of Blackhall Place and the operation of the overall site, continued its work in implementing a conservation plan. The pandemic (it is an ill wind!) afforded, due to the absence of staff and students, an opportunity to undertake a number of long-delayed projects, including three phases of a rewiring project, fire upgrades, and stonework repairs.

Unfortunately, the catering, bar and B&B facilities, and the Four Courts’ consultation rooms have been closed for the duration of the pandemic. However, on a positive note, the consultation rooms reopened in June 2021 and the other services are likely to resume in September. The IT section’s main focus continues to be the implementation of ‘System 360’, which is a significant investment in a member-management system, approved by AGM in 2015 and 2019, with a budget of €4.2 million. We are now in phase 3 (member services) of the project, with phase 1 (which primarily covers regulation and PCs) having bedded in very successfully, and phase 2 (education) just completed. Without System 360, we would not have been able to undertake the 2021 PC renewal process, where we achieved 100% online renewal. Similarly, in other areas of our operation, such as the Law School’s online training programmes, FE1 remote exams, library services, PII renewal, etc, service delivery would not have been possible without System 360.

Cybersecurity

The protection of our information assets is a priority, and cybersecurity continued to exercise the minds and resources of the IT section throughout the period. At the heart of the Society’s cyber-strategy is an ongoing external review of the robustness of our IT security systems, and an education/awareness programme for all our staff. Of course, while cybersecurity has always been a high priority, after the HSE attack it was even more so. The risk and data-privacy functions continue to keep a close oversight in their areas, ensuring we have robust risk-management strategies and procedures in place, and data privacy and protection are embedded in the organisation’s culture.

Work on a feasibility study and options on the Benburb Street site have been put on hold until the impact of COVID-19 on the Society’s and the profession’s finances becomes clearer.

Against all odds

Against all the odds, the Calcutta Run 2020, which went ‘virtual’, was amazingly successful, raising €285,000 (emulating 2019) thanks to the generosity and commitment of solicitors and their firms. The Peter McVerry Trust and the HOPE Foundation, which both share the funds, were astonished and grateful for the commitment of those involved.

They say that a person’s true nature is only seen in adversity, and I am happy to say that every woman and man rose to the challenges and flexibility demanded by the COVID crisis in working to ensure that the department lived up to the Society’s objective of ‘business as usual, delivered differently’.

HUMAN RESOURCES DEPARTMENT

0.42

percent absent rate compared with 2.68% national average

Barbara Carroll, Director

Barbara Carroll, Director

The Human Resources Department plays a pivotal role in providing a positive, fair, and open working environment, underpinned by the right structures and skills for our colleagues, so they can make a difference to the interests of our members, students, and the wider public.

The Human Resources Department plays a pivotal role in providing a positive, fair, and open working environment, underpinned by the right structures and skills for our colleagues, so they can make a difference to the interests of our members, students, and the wider public.

We work collectively with others to develop, motivate and retain our people. Our metrics scored well in a national context: our absence rate was 0.42%, compared with a 2.68% national average; and our voluntary turnover was 6.87%, compared with a 14% national average.

This year, despite the pandemic, the Law Society progressed with its strategic projects. This is down to the talents and loyalty of its people. For this reason, we invest in our people to enable their own success, and to contribute invaluably to the solicitors’ profession and the public we serve.

In January 2021, we launched a new learning and development programme, in partnership with Law Society Professional Training, focusing on six key areas: leadership and coaching skills, management development, professional development, compliance and technology, future core capabilities, and mental health and wellbeing.

We recognise the importance of providing an inclusive workplace for colleagues to feel safe and supported at work. Meaningful work, positive peer relationships, and a trusting environment are important components of our culture. In the year under review, along with many of our members, the Law Society signed two important charters to demonstrate our commitment to these principles: the GEDI (Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion) Charter, and the Professional Wellbeing Charter.

The department played a key role in the Society’s rapid response to the COVID-19 crisis. We learned that cultivating awareness, resilience, and adaptability will continue to be important during recovery, and that changes to the future of work will accelerate, particularly through the increased use of technology.

As we shape our future collectively, we will adopt what we have learned, so we can emerge stronger than before.

Committee Reports

The Law Society’s committees are appointed by the Council. Their term of office runs from the November Council meeting each year until the November Council meeting the following year. The incoming president selects the chair and members of each committee and places their names before the Council for approval. The Council regulations divide the committees into two categories: ‘standing committees’ and ‘non-standing committees’. In addition, various subcommittees, task forces, and working groups are established to deal with different legislative and operational matters, as they arise.

STANDING COMMITTEES

The Solicitors Acts state that the Council exercises the statutory functions of the Society, which are set out in the acts. The Council may delegate the exercise of any of its functions to a committee established forth at purpose. This allows the Council to appoint standing committees that exercise statutory functions on its behalf.

NON-STANDING COMMITTEES

The Council appoints non-standing committees where it believes that these can better assist the Society in carrying out its work. These committees do not perform statutory functions.

COMPLAINTS AND CLIENT RELATIONS COMMITTEE

Flor McCarthy, Chair

Flor McCarthy, Chair

On 7 October 2019, responsibility for the investigation of all complaints against solicitors transferred from the Law Society of Ireland to the Legal Services Regulatory Authority.

Throughout the year under review, the Complaints and Client Relations Committee (CCRC) continued to resolve all complaints made prior to 7 October 2019.

In 2020, the work of the CCRC transferred to remote meetings, and this has continued during 2021. The remote format has improved how the committee carries out its function, and the committee recommends its continuation.

Since July 2020, a total of 23 meetings have taken place remotely. In all, 285 items were considered during this period. In July 2020, there were 43 items before the committee. As of 30 June 2021, a total of 27 items remain before the CCRC. Such a reduction in complaints is testament to the hard work of both the committee and the executive.

The CCRC expects to be in a position to reduce itself from two divisions to one by the end of 2021, further reflecting the reduction in the number of outstanding complaints. The investigation of complaints remains subject to review by the Independent Adjudicator of the Law Society and by the Office of the Ombudsman.

The CCRC will continue its annual review of applications for practising certificates from solicitors who are the subject of multiple complaints. The committee can direct the registrar to refuse to issue a practising certificate, or to issue a certificate with conditions.

During the year under review, the CCRC saw the retirement of Linda Kirwan, Helene Blayney and Catriona O’Mara, who have provided invaluable service to the committee and the profession over many years. I would like to thank them for their contributions and wish them the very best for the future. I also wish to thank the rest of the Society’s executive, the CCRC team, and all CCRC members for their ongoing hard work and dedication.

COORDINATION COMMITTEE

James Cahill, Chair

James Cahill, Chair

The Coordination Committee operates as a link between the Law Society’s committees and the Council, with an oversight role for projects undertaken by each of the Society’s committees and task forces. In this capacity, it reviews the benefit of committee projects in terms of resources and timelines, and allocates finances within an overall budget determined by the Finance Committee. It considers requests to pursue specific proposals or seek expert advices during the course of the year, and ensures that the direction and priority of projects are appropriate to the Society’s overall objectives.

At the commencement of each Council year, the Coordination Committee meets with the chairs of the Law Society’s standing committees and task forces to consider ongoing issues and to plan for the year ahead. All meetings during late 2020 and throughout 2021 have been conducted remotely, and have been concerned with the myriad of issues arising for the Society and the profession as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the committee has overseen the Society’s response to the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, with the president and director general attending before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice. The officers and director general have operated as a steering group to manage an external review of the leadership and effectiveness aspects of the Council, which yielded a report and action plan in July 2021, with short, medium and long-term objectives. In addition, the committee approved the provision of unconscious-bias awareness training to all Council members, which will be offered to all committee members in due course.

The committee made recommendations to the Council for the appointment of Society representatives on a range of State bodies, including the Courts Service Board, the Circuit Court Rules Committee, the Legal Services Regulatory Authority, the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, the Irish Takeover Panel, the Data Governance Board, the Parole Board, the Medical Bureau of Road Safety, the Advisory Group on Family Justice, and the National Anti-Money-Laundering Steering Committee.

A further function of the Coordination Committee is the consideration of matters falling outside the remit of any of the other committees. During the past year, the committee addressed a number of such issues, including:

  • Approval of the roll-out timetable and implementation plan for the Legal Services Excellence Standard,
  • The transition from LawCare to the Professional Wellbeing Project in late 2020,
  • A letter to the British Ambassador expressing the Law Society’s concerns regarding the refusal of the British Government to institute a public inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane and collusion by British agencies in his murder, and
  • A joint statement with the law societies of Northern Ireland and Scotland condemning the sanctions by China against lawyers providing legal advice on human-rights violations in Xinjiang.

EDUCATION COMMITTEE

Richard Hammond SC, Chair

Richard Hammond SC, Chair

The committee focused on implementing the recommendations of the Peart Commission and ensuring that the Law School met the challenges and demands of providing training to solicitors and trainees during the pandemic.

The committee also:

  • Completed a consultation process with firms concerning the syllabus of the new fused Professional Practice Course, due to start in 2022,
  • Continued our ongoing engagement with the Legal Services Regulatory Authority,
  • Negotiated successfully with the Solicitors Regulatory Authority and ensured that Irish solicitors continue to be entitled to automatic admission as solicitors in England and Wales, post-Brexit,
  • Awarded the first five grants under the Small Practice Traineeship Grants Scheme, which aims to help small firms in rural areas provide training contracts,
  • Launched the Legal Ambitions Summer School in July 2020 (1,500 fifth- and transition-year students participated in the free online programme, which encourages students to consider a career in law and offers an insight into the role of a solicitor in practice),
  • Introduced the Law School Ambassador Programme, which enables a number of PPC2 trainees to represent the Law School throughout the year and act as a point of contact for those starting the PPC1, and
  • Provided funding for specialised training on suicide assessment and intervention for the Law School’s counselling team.

Finally, we were delighted that we were able to hold a small, socially distanced ceremony attended by the late Dr Eamonn Hall and his family to mark the naming of a seminar room in the Green Hall in his honour.

I would like to thank my fellow committee members, the education officer, and the director of education for their hard work, assistance, and valuable input.

FINANCE COMMITTEE

Christopher Callan, Chair

Christopher Callan, Chair

As with every other business and organisation in the country, 2020 was a turbulent year for the Law Society. We were all operating in a very uncertain environment, from both a social and economic perspective and, as it turned out, for a duration none of us expected in March 2020. The 2020 budget was based on maintaining the Practising Certificate (PC) fee at its 2019 level and achieving a break-even position despite cost pressures. Even with anticipated increases, there was no SMDF levy, and the LSRA levy was maintained at the 2019 level. Although suffering significant income losses from both subscriptions and trading activities and, at one point, suffering significant investment losses, I am pleased to say that the Society’s general activities ended the year very close to the original break-even budget. The Law School performed much better than budget, despite a significant fall in income. This was achieved through notable reductions in budgeted expenditure, both on the Society’s side and on the Law School’s side.

 

The Finance Committee moved very swiftly to implement measures to curtail expenditure, which included, unfortunately, 30 staff being put on lay-off or part-time, a recruitment freeze on new positions, a pay freeze, and a significant curtailment in capital and operational projects. At the same time, the committee made resources available to fund initiatives that would ease the impact of the pandemic on practitioners.

The general activities surplus (including investment gains) was €73k (2019: €2.4m). This was effectively a break-even position and almost in line with the budgeted surplus of €18k. Education activities made a surplus of €562k against a budgeted deficit of €165k. Reserve funds, which include amounts allocated to the Capital Expenditure, Litigation, Capital Reserve and LSRA Levy Funds (after provision of €2.8m for the LSRA levy for 2020), increased by €2.2m (2019: €3.5m). €600k of this increase arose from an over-provision for the LSRA levy, and will be used to reduce the cost of the levy in future years.

 

In the Audited Financial Statements, operational surpluses for the Society are incorporated in ‘Group’ accounts, which include all of the Society’s subsidiaries. The group accounts give a full picture of the financial performance and financial position of all Society operations, but they can distort the view of the performance of the different elements of our operation, given that inter-entity trading must be eliminated. The overall pre-tax operational surplus from general activities, education activities and Funds was €2.9m, but is shown in the audited accounts as €2m.

In the Audited Financial Statements, there are a number of revaluations and exceptional items that must be included, albeit they are outside normal operations. A revaluation of the Benburb Street site resulted in a small write-down of €350k (2019: increase €2.6m), and there was a cost of €22k allocated to the SMDF Levy Fund with income to the fund having ceased in 2019.

In accordance with the accounting standard FRS102, the financial performance of the staff pension scheme must also be shown in both the income statement and the balance sheet. This has introduced significant variances in our audited accounts over the last six years since we applied the standard. Over that period, adjustments in the pension liability have ranged from a positive €2.5m adjustment to a negative €4.8m adjustment. These adjustments are primarily driven by the bond rate used in the calculation of the scheme liabilities. This rate decreased by 0.3% in 2020, resulting in liabilities increasing by €1.5m more than investment returns.

However, the Finance Committee and Trustees do not manage the scheme on the basis of the FRS102 valuation, as the variables that impact on the valuation are different to those used in our triennial actuarial valuations, which are used to manage the scheme. Measured, through actuarial valuations conducted by Mercer, our pension scheme is in reasonable health.

Overall, in the audited accounts, the Society’s Group made a surplus of €923k (2019: €7.2m) after tax and exceptional items. The ‘Overall Results’ table shows the management accounts results, which are the actual operating outcomes of the various elements of the Society’s operations and also how they are presented in the Audited Financial Statements.

FINANCE COMMITTEE (Cont'd 2 of 3)

Our income

Total income for the year, excluding investment gains, was €31.2m, which was €1m or 3% lower than 2019. On the general activities side, income was €20m (2019: €21.2m). PC, membership and admission fees were €19.5m (2019: €19.8m), with most of the decrease being attributable to the fall-off in ‘Brexit’ PCs and admission fees. An area of concern when budgeting for 2020 was the extent to which ‘Brexit’ PCs would fall off. While these fell by 30%, this was well below the anticipated 50%. Education income, at €11.2m, had a marginal increase of 3% from €10.9m. Income from other sources, such as advertising, publications and the Four Courts, at €544k, was almost €1m (-64%) below 2019, reflecting the impact of the public health emergency on our trading income.

In 2020, there were 11,854 (2019: 11,879) PC holders, which was a decrease of 25 on 2019. While normally there would be an increase of about 400 PCs, this decrease was anticipated due to the expected fall-off in ‘Brexit’ PCs. The reduced numbers had only a minor impact on income of €83k. Membership numbers, at 13,196 (2019: 12,906), increased by 290. Membership numbers include 177 solicitors who avail of free membership on the basis of being over 50 years admitted or being unemployed. Admissions to the Roll during the year, at 906, were, as expected, well below the 2,387 record set in 2019 due to ‘Brexit’ admissions. Between 2016 and 2020, there were 4,300 such admissions. PC fee income totalling €1.6m (2019: €1.6m) was allocated to the Capital Expenditure, Litigation and Capital Reserve Funds. Income to the LSRA Levy Fund was €3.4m, in anticipation of an LSRA levy of that amount. However, this only materialised as a levy of €2.8m, leaving a net increase in the LSRA Levy Fund of €600k.

Education activities income was €11.2m (2019: €10.9m). While year-on-year income was very similar, the mix across the Law School’s income sources was very different. Professional Practice Courses, exams, etc, accounted for €7.5m (2019: €7.0m), and professional training (LSPT) seminars, diploma courses and grants accounted for €3.6m (2019: €3.9m). There were 418 PPC1 students in September 2020 (2019: 455), and 55 students enrolled for the new Hybrid PPC that commenced in late 2020. PPC2 numbers were at 448 (2019: 412). FE1 sittings, at 3,869 (2019: 2,496), were a result of three sittings in 2020 – two of them online. Diploma course income, at €2.6m, was ahead of 2019 (€2.2m) due to increased demand driven by the pandemic. LSPT, with its Skillnet and Finuas programmes, had an overall income, including grants, of €1.1m (2019: €1.7m). This decrease is mainly attributable to the 30 free seminars delivered, with their courses reaching over 30,000 participants, as against 8,900 in 2019.

Our expenditure

Despite falls and variations across income sources, these were offset, or exceeded, by very significant reductions in budgeted expenditure. Overall expenditure was €29.3m, which was an increase of 4% or €1.2m on 2019. On the general activities side, an increase of €1.4m (9%) was fully accounted for by an equivalent increase of €1.4m in the provision for LSRA costs. Significant savings across a number of areas were offset by additional costs in relation to member supports.

Education activities’ operational charges, at €10.9m, were on a par with 2019, despite the increase in activity levels and student numbers.

‘Other expenditure’ noted in the accounts includes the costs associated with our subsidiaries and were €249k (2019: €437k) – mainly reflecting reduced activity in the Law Club of Ireland’s bed-and-breakfast, premises hire, catering, and bar operations.

The ‘areas of expenditure’ graph on the previous page shows the categories of expenditure for 2020. The LSRA cost of €2.8m significantly inflates the regulation cost and, if this is excluded, the spend on representation exceeds the spend on regulation, which was an objective set by the Society in 2014.

FINANCE COMMITTEE (Cont'd 3 of 3)

Our balance sheet

The position shown by our balance sheet is very distorted by FRS102 accounting-standard requirements. These require three significant adjustments. The first is a negative one, of a decrease in the valuation of the Benburb Street site from €20.35m to €20m.

The second is the inclusion of a €1.8m provision for the remaining deferred cost of the sale of the SMDF, albeit this is fully offset by €1.86m in the SMDF Levy Fund. The estimated overall cost to members of the SMDF financial support is approximately €11.5m, compared with the original approval by members of €16m.

The third adjustment is for the increase in the deficit on the staff pension scheme (closed to new entrants since 2009) from €7.3m to €8.8m. This deficit arises from the value of the liabilities based on FRS102 assumptions. Our actuaries have determined, based on their actuarial model, that the current contribution rate will eliminate any real deficit over the long term. As a consequence of our financial performance in 2020 and these three adjustments, our net asset position now stands at €48.6m (2019: €47.7m). Of our reserves, €37.5m are accounted for by fixed assets (2019: €38.4m).

The reserves also include two contingency funds: the Capital Expenditure Fund, at €2m, and the Litigation Fund, at €1.2m. Both Funds are designed to meet costs in these areas as they arise, and avoid fluctuations in the PC fee. The Capital Reserve Fund amount of €1.7m is to meet future development costs.

Additionally, there is a balance of €2.8m in the LSRA Levy Fund, being the balance of funds raised over the last three years since the imposition of the levy, and the amounts ultimately levied by the LSRA. This will be used to keep this levy at its current level over the coming years, despite anticipated LSRA cost increases.

Full audited financial statements of the Society for 2019 are included in this report.

Subsidiaries

The Group structure includes a number of subsidiary entities that are effectively run on a break-even basis. The Law Club of Ireland operates the commercial elements of the Blackhall Place premises and, after subsidies, net of management fees of €25k, made an operational surplus of €6k (2019: surplus €54k), despite only trading for Q1 of 2020. Benburb Street Property Company Limited, which owns and manages the Benburb Street site, made an operational deficit of €96k (2019: surplus €33k) before allowing for the revaluation of the site, which brought the deficit to €446k (2019: surplus €2.6m).

The full Audited Financial Statements of the Law Society for 2020 are available on the Society’s website at www. lawsociety.ie.

2021

At an early stage in 2020, the Finance Committee committed to, if possible, giving a significant reduction in the 2021 PC fee. Ultimately, the committee recommended to Council a €350 (13%) reduction, which had a net impact on income of €2.9m for the Society and €1.1m for the Compensation Fund. This highlights how sensitive the Society’s finances are to any reduction in the PC fee. This was done in the context of having no ‘Brexit’ PCs in 2021 (a fall of 500) and was considered by the Finance Committee as the maximum prudent reduction possible. The committee had to balance the impact of a reduction in the fee with its obligation to ensure prudent management of the Society’s finances over the medium term.

As part of the process of determining the PC fee reduction, the Finance Committee committed to an expenditure review programme, which is currently ongoing. We are unlikely to be able to maintain the PC fee at the same level of reduction, but there are a number of contingencies that might enable us to ease back to the full fee over 2022 and 2023.

MONEY-LAUNDERING
REPORTING COMMITTEE

Martin Crotty, Chair

Martin Crotty, Chair

The committee is charged with carrying out the Law Society’s statutory obligations in relation to mandatory reporting of suspected offences relating to money laundering, terrorist financing, and relevant offences. In line with corporate governance best-practice, the committee is comprised of six solicitors and two lay members.

The Society is required to report any suspicions that money-laundering or an offence of financing terrorism has been committed by a practising solicitor (or any other person, who the Society, in the course of monitoring solicitors, suspects has been engaged in such activities) to the relevant authorities, that is, An Garda Síochána and the Revenue Commissioners.

Suspicious transaction reports are filed with the authorities pursuant to the provisions of section 63 of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Acts (as amended). During the past year, the committee directed that three such reports be made.

The Law Society is also required, pursuant to the provisions of section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act 2011, to report to An Garda Síochána, as soon as practicable, information in its possession that it knows or believes might be of material assistance in preventing the commission of a relevant offence or in securing the apprehension, prosecution, or conviction of a person for a relevant offence. Relevant offences are listed in schedule 1 of the act, and include fraud-related offences. During the past year, the committee directed that three such reports be made.

I would like to thank my fellow committee members for their work during the year. My gratitude goes to committee secretary Tina Beattie and her colleagues in the Regulation Department for their assistance.

PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY
INSURANCE COMMITTEE

Barry MacCarthy, Chair

Barry MacCarthy, Chair

The function of the Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) Committee is to deal with all matters pertaining to the regulation of solicitors’ PII, including monitoring the implementation of the PII regulations and associated documentation, maintenance of a stable PII market, provision of guidance to the profession, and attending to PII queries arising. The committee reviews drafts and publishes updated PII regulations and associated documentation on an annual basis.

The committee maintains a regular dialogue with insurers participating in the Irish market for solicitors’ PII. It monitors the management and running of the Special Purpose Fund (the Assigned Risks Pool and the Run-off Fund) through the Special Purpose Fund Management Committee, which comprises representatives of the PII Committee, the Special Purpose Fund manager, and the two participating insurers with the highest market share by premium.

The committee provides information and documentation to the public and the profession through the PII website at www.lawsociety.ie/PII, which contains current and historic information and documentation on PII matters, including news items, regulations, minimum terms and conditions, the common proposal form, participating insurers’ agreements, Special Purpose Fund documentation, lists of insurers and brokers, and guidance notes. Information on the current insurance details of firms continues to be available through the Society’s online ‘firm insurance details’ search facility. The most recent PII renewal saw significant increases in premiums, albeit at a lower level than those seen by other professions and solicitors in other jurisdictions.

These increases in premiums were due to a hardening of the global market due to issues such as COVID-19, increased risk, lack of profitability in international PII markets, and solvency requirements, rather than due to an increase in claims in the solicitors’ market. The Society made significant changes to the minimum terms and conditions in advance of the renewal to minimise the increases in premiums, including reducing the period of free run-off cover to six years, introducing a run-off premium for non-compliant firms, and removing the 1% minimum contribution to the Special Purpose Fund for insurers.

A last-minute change in underwriting criteria by a specific insurer in the market caused difficulties for firms previously covered by that insurer. The Law Society liaised extensively with insurers and brokers to find additional capacity in the market to assist these firms, and the Society suspended usual regulatory deadlines to give firms more time to find alternative cover. eBulletins were issued to keep the profession up to date, and one-to-one assistance was provided through the Society’s helplines.

Despite these premium increases, the market remained stable, with no insurers exiting the market and only ten firms availing of the Assigned Risks Pool. The numbers entering the Run-off Fund also remained stable, with no increase in the number of firms closing. I would like to thank my fellow committee members and committee secretary for their hard work, assistance, and valuable input.

REGULATION OF PRACTICE COMMITTEE

Imelda Reynolds, Chair

Imelda Reynolds, Chair

The Regulation of Practice Committee administers the Compensation Fund, maintained in order to compensate clients for losses due to dishonesty by solicitors or their employees. The committee also polices the profession’s compliance with regulations regarding accounts, anti-money-laundering, and regulatory requirements under the Solicitors Acts 1954-2015 not assigned to other regulatory committees.

Overall financial performance

The income and expenditure account of the Compensation Fund reflects a surplus (representing an excess of income over expenditure after taxation) of €1,996,914 for the year ended 31 December 2020, compared with a surplus of €950,115 for the year ended 31 December 2019. The increase of €1,046,799 in the surplus for 2020 compared with 2019 is attributable to an increase in 2020 of €310,287 in income, a decrease of €3,214,870 in expenditure compared with 2019, and an increased adjustment of €2,478,358 in the fair-value movements arising on revaluation of investments.

Income streams

The increase of €310,287 in income in 2020 is attributed mainly to an increase of €846,401 in income and return on investments, together with an increase of contributions receivable of €163,323, offset by a decrease of €669,055 in recoveries from defaulting solicitors.

Expenditure

The decrease of €3,214,870 in expenditure between the two years is attributable to a decrease in the provision for claims of €3,224,182.

Balance sheet

The net assets of the fund as at 31 December 2020 stood at €25,293,253, compared with €23,296,339 at 31 December 2019. The increase of €1,996,914 in the net asset position of the fund between the two years’ ends is reflected in an increase of €3,025,027 in revenue reserves, together with a decrease of €1,028,113 in the unrealised profit on the investment portfolio.

Developments since December 2020

In the six months ended 30 June 2021, a total of 57 claims were received. Excluding invalid claims refused, these claims amounted to €594,082. Payments were made in the sum of €180,176 in respect of claims, and claims amounting to €413,906 are still under consideration. The net assets of the fund are valued at €26 million as at 30 June 2021. The annual contribution to the fund was €620 per solicitor for 2021. Insurance cover for €50 million in excess of €5 million is in place for the year ending 31 December 2021.

The year 2020 saw the appointment of BDO as the new auditors to the Compensation Fund.

Committee activities

The committee met 52 times for scheduled, special, and emergency meetings, demonstrating that, while the COVID-19 pandemic has altered the format of meetings from in-person to virtual, there was no decrease in the committee’s considerable workload. Due to the committee’s wide statutory remit, and to ensure efficiency, the committee meets in divisions for general business and has subcommittees dealing with investments and audit.

Arising from these meetings, the committee decided to:

  • Levy contributions amounting to €13,000 towards the cost of investigations,
  • Refer three solicitors to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal,
  • Refer 12 solicitors to the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal (ten of these cases related to the late filing of accountants’ reports),
  • Apply to the High Court in two cases, and
  • Withdraw approval of an accountancy firm from the panel of approved accountants.

REGULATION OF PRACTICE COMMITTEE (Cont'd)

As on-site inspections could not take place during the COVID pandemic, the Society ensured continued protection for client moneys through off-site ‘desktop reviews’, whereby solicitors sent information directly to the authorised person, preferably in password-protected electronic format. The Society completed approximately 300 off-site inspections in the year to June 2021. The level of cooperation from the profession has been excellent. The committee, following a rigorous review of the financial position of the Compensation Fund, decided that it was appropriate to reduce the Compensation Fund element of the practising certificate fee to €620 in 2021, from €720 in 2020.

A practice note about interest charges on solicitor client accounts was issued in February 2021, setting out the regulatory implications of negative interest charges that banks are now imposing on solicitor client accounts, and how negative interest is to be treated as outlay. Amendments to the Solicitors Accounts Regulations have been approved by the Society, and should become law later this year, to provide clarity and certainty regarding the obligations of solicitors where interest charging on client accounts occurs.

The committee continues to monitor the evolving cybersecurity landscape, and committee members are participating in a dedicated working group to investigate further methods, procedures and policies that would assist the profession in mitigating the risk of a cyberattack. The Solicitors (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Regulations 2020 (SI 377 of 2020) came into effect on 1 November 2020, and a related practice note was published. The regulations do not impose any additional regulatory burden on the profession, as they simply codify existing law and encapsulate solicitors’ obligations in one place.

The committee was responsible for presentation of practising certificate regulations to Council in advance of the renewal process, facilitating the introduction of an online-only renewal process.

It also oversaw a policy review in relation to solicitors outside the jurisdiction, to realign the regulatory framework in the light of Brexit and ensure that it was legally robust. This confirmed our view that a practising certificate only entitles a solicitor to practice from an establishment in Ireland, and should be issued on that basis. The committee approved issuing ‘certificates of attestation’ in place of practising certificates to Irish-qualified solicitors seeking registration with foreign bars.

The Law Society published a practice note on the retention of professional fees in client accounts, emphasising that any money properly available to be applied in satisfaction of professional fees must be transferred to the office account within three months. On 18 December 2020, the Legal Services Regulatory Authority assumed responsibility for regulating advertising by legal practitioners. In its submission to the authority, the Society confirmed that the new regulations were a “positive and effective realignment of the previous regulatory regime”. The Society no longer provides an advertisement-vetting service.

I would like to thank the committee vice-chairs, the lay members, all other committee members, the Registrar of Solicitors and director of regulation (the committee secretary), and his team in the Regulation Department for their highly valued participation in the work of the committee.

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE
RESOLUTION COMMITTEE

Alison Kelleher, Chair

Alison Kelleher, Chair

It is with great pleasure that we report on our committee’s work over the past 12 months, which could not happen without the enthusiasm and commitment of our vice chair, committee secretary, and all volunteer members listed in the annual report. A key goal of the committee is to promote ADR, and the committee continues to look for seminars and speaking opportunities to promote all forms of ADR.

In October 2020, the committee collaborated with the Southern Law Association and the ICMA in presenting a joint webinar titled ‘Making the most of mediation’ to over 200 practitioners. In April 2021, we collaborated with the Litigation Committee and LSPT on a joint webinar titled ‘Effective mediation in Ireland’. The committee also published a related guidance note on ‘Top tips for remote mediations’ in the April Gazette.

We continue to engage with stakeholders regarding the establishment of a Mediation Council, and welcome the commitment in the Department of Justice’s plan for 2021 to establish such a council.

An aim this year was to seek greater diversity of representation on the Law Society’s Arbitration Panel, and a number of female applicants were successfully appointed.

In May 2021, in collaboration with the president, the committee organised a well-received round-table discussion for panel members. The committee continues to work with Arbitration Ireland, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and others to support the development of ADR for domestic and international dispute resolution. A notable contribution this year was the raising of concerns to the President of the High Court in relation to the process in place in the Irish courts for enforcement of adjudication decisions pursuant to the Construction Contracts Act 2013. This resulted in the new Practice Direction HC 105.

The committee’s appointees to the ICC National Committee and the ICC Court of Arbitration Commission continue to represent the profession’s interests at an international level, and the committee’s vice chair, Eamonn Conlon SC, has been appointed alternate member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration.

BUSINESS LAW
COMMITTEE

Neil Keenan, Chair

Neil Keenan, Chair

It has been a busy year for the committee, with the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the consequent challenges and increased risks to businesses and practitioners who advise businesses.

A key focus of the committee under my chairmanship has been to try and assist with the burden that is placed on practitioners in navigating our regulatory requirements and managing risks in a way that allows business transactions to proceed as seamlessly as possible.

The committee made the following submissions:

  • September 2020 – Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020, section 32 (execution of documents in counterpart),
  • December 2020 – General Scheme of the Companies (Corporate Enforcement Authority) Bill,
  • December 2020 – letter to the CRO regarding timing of the CORE closure,
  • January 2021 – Competition (Amendment) Bill 2021,
  • March 2021 – Letter to the CRO outlining issues with the new CORE platform, and
  • June 2021 – scheme of a Consumer Rights Bill.

The committee also issued the following notes in May 2021:

It also had detailed engagements with the CRO in regard to the various technical issues that arose following the transition to the new CORE platform in December 2020. It also ran a very successful and well-attended business law conference in November 2020.

The committee continues to be represented on, and is engaged in, the CRO Fora, the Company Law Review Group, and the CCBE Private Law and Company Law Committees.

I am very grateful to the committee’s vice-chair, Máire Cunningham, the committee members, and secretary Joanne Cox for all of their work, support and commitment. They are unstintingly generous with their time, notwithstanding their commitments to their own very busy practices.

CONVEYANCING COMMITTEE

Orla Coyne, Chair

Orla Coyne, Chair

The Conveyancing Committee has had another very busy year, as it continued to work remotely to deal with a broad range of matters affecting conveyancing practice and procedure.

The committee invested a lot of time this year in a project on prescriptive easements, mindful of the looming deadline of 1 December 2021 for registration of such easements. The task force set up to deal with this topic made a submission to Government seeking a six-year extension of the time within which to register these easements and a referral of the whole area of easements to the Law Reform Commission. It also made a submission to the PRAI in relation to issues with the Form 68 required to register these easements. Several practice notes on easements were published for the assistance of the profession, and the committee collaborated with Law Society Professional Training to provide a webinar on easements in July. Work continues as the December deadline draws closer.

The committee represents solicitors’ interests in its engagement with external bodies representing various stakeholders in the conveyancing process, including:

  • Meetings with the Property Registration Authority in relation to Form 3, registration of easements, Forms 5 and 6, data protection, and other registration matters,
  • Liaison with Revenue’s Local Property Tax (LPT) section on various issues to do with LPT,
  • Meetings with the Banking and Payments Federation Ireland in relation to the residential certificate-of-title system, with qualified redemption figures, delays in obtaining title deeds on accountable trust receipt, and delays in issuing releases still being some of the main problems for solicitors,
  • Ongoing liaison with Revenue and the Taxes Administration Liaison Committee on electronic stamping, in conjunction with the Taxation and Technology Committees.

The committee’s task forces issued guidance to the profession on various matters throughout the year, and they continue to work on a broad range of issues:

  • The Anti-Money-Laundering/Know Your Customer Task Force published a practice note to assist practitioners with the data-protection issues associated with continued demands from equity funds and other lenders for personal data on third parties,
  • The Commercial Certificate of Title Task Force issued guidance on a non-Law Society certificate of title currently in use in the market,
  • The Landlord and Tenant Task Force issued guidance on service charges and break clauses, and will soon conclude its work on green leases,
  • The review of practice issues to do with MUDs/ managed properties is ongoing, with the intention of seeking an agreement for a protocol on obtaining information from managing agents,
  • The Conveyancing Practice Reform Task Force published a practice note on the digitisation of the conveyancing process, and it continues to consider how to bring about changes in conveyancing practice that will make the process more efficient for solicitors and their clients, and will engage with the Society’s eConveyancing Task Force in this regard,
  • The Planning Task Force continues to engage with both the RIAI and SCSI in relation to their respective forms of certificate of compliance with planning and building regulations,
  • The group dealing with NPPR matters issued a practice note on the operation of the statute of limitations, and the committee was pleased to note the recent letter from the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage confirming the phased expiry of the NPPR charge.

Alongside these activities, the committee continued to deal with its usual volume of day-to-day practice queries from conveyancing solicitors:

  • The committee’s telephone and email helpline, run by the committee secretary, dealt with 812 queries,
  • There were 62 new written queries for consideration at the committee’s monthly meetings, along with a rolling agenda of about 30 ongoing topics,
  • The committee issued 21 new practice notes (www. lawsociety.ie/practicenotes) on a variety of topics.

Renewed thanks are due to all committee members and consultants, vice-chair Michael Walsh (who replaced former vice-chair Sandra Murphy during the year, following her appointment as a judge of the District Court), and committee secretary Catherine O’Flaherty for all their hard work and support throughout the year.

CRIMINAL LAW
COMMITTEE

Helena Kiely, Chair

Helena Kiely, Chair

The committee had a busy and productive year. The consequences of the pandemic continued to play a central role in the work of practitioners, with positive and ongoing engagement by the committee with the following agencies, particularly in relation to the impact of the coronavirus on the courts and access to legal advice for persons detained in prisons and garda stations:

  • Irish Prison Service – on difficulties in gaining access to prisoners for legal consultations, in particular in prisons, and discussions around improvement in services, both in terms of online and physical consultations,
  • An Garda Síochána – resulting in renewed instructions by An Garda Síochána to members, on protections to be put in place for detained persons and legal advisers during detentions, and the identification of garda stations suitable to host garda interviews and detentions remotely,
  • Courts Service,
  • Policing Authority – to discuss the experiences of solicitors providing legal advice to clients detained in garda stations during the pandemic.

The committee has continued to engage with the Department of Justice in relation to restoration of fees for legal aid. Members met with the department regarding payment of fees for review of disclosure, clearly outlining the position of the defence solicitor.

The committee provided submissions to the Oireachtas and the Department of Justice on:

  • COVID-19 regulations,
  • Victims’ testimony,
  • Review of the Offences against the State Acts 1939, and
  • The implementation of the recommendations of the O’Malley Report.

Members engaged in the subgroup reviewing the training recommendations in the O’Malley Report. Our annual conference was held in March 2021, partly designed to address the recommendations in the report around the training of legal professionals.

The committee organised an online conference on Brexit in November 2020.

Work is ongoing on the relaunch of the ‘Find a Solicitor’ website, in collaboration with An Garda Síochána.

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT UNIT

Brendan Twomey, Chair

Brendan Twomey, Chair

The mission of the Society’s Law School and Diploma Centre is to enable solicitors to provide excellence in legal services to the public. The Curriculum Development Unit (CDU) oversees that objective. It meets with the teams running the courses in professional conduct and management, all diplomas and certificates, and continuing professional development.

It reviews curricula and materials furnished to students of the Law School to ensure that the courses offered at every level are at the highest possible standard. The CDU suggests improvements for existing courses and topics for new courses and, if considered appropriate, adoption by the Law School through the Education Committee. We kept up to date on the diplomas offered and on the Legal Ambitions Summer School. We considered reports on the PPC Hybrid course and monitored the introduction and commencement of the SQE in England and Wales.

We reviewed the Access Initiative, the Outreach Programme, the Law School Psychological Services, the LLM and the professional doctorate, Law Society Professional Training, and courses in litigation (PPC1), technology, skills, business law, legal practice Irish and advanced legal practice Irish, criminal litigation, PPC2 conveyancing electives (including commercial and complex property transactions), land law, PPC1 probate, insolvency, medical law, and ethics and professionalism. We continue to keep the recommendations of the Peart Commission report on solicitor education under review. Thanks to each committee member from a wide range of firms, and to Dr Geoffrey Shannon SC (deputy director of education) for his dedicated support as our secretary, and to all the managers and tutors of the Law School, CPD and Diploma centre.

EMPLOYMENT AND EQUALITY LAW COMMITTEE

Catherine O'Flynn, Chair

Catherine O'Flynn, Chair

The Employment and Equality Law Committee has provided a strong voice in policy debate in order to inform decision-making, for example by:

  • Providing preliminary observations on the need for further guidance on remote working, in response to a consultation run by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation,
  • Making a full submission to that department in response to a separate public consultation on the introduction of a right to request remote working, and
  • Making a submission to the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth in response to a separate public consultation on flexible working.

Throughout this period, committee members monitored the experience of practitioners attending before the Workplace Relations Committee (WRC). We organised a meeting with representatives of the WRC in relation to the conduct of remote hearings during the pandemic, and to consider how all parties might facilitate best practice. The committee subsequently prepared an update to the profession on the benefits of actively consenting to remote hearings, and to encourage agreement to email contact with the WRC. This update was done by way of the eZine, and also encouraged early submissions.

Furthermore, the committee provided a submission to the WRC about its mediation process in terms of the committee’s experiences, and gave suggestions as to how the process might be improved.

An official liaison was established with the Labour Court to facilitate a similar exchange of information to that enjoyed with the WRC.

Other developments include:

  • A review of the employment and equality law precedents available to the profession on the Law Society’s website, updating template contracts and agreements, workplace policies, and guidelines to ensure that they fully comply with current legislation and case law, and
  • The provision of updates to the profession on relevant legislative, case law, and practice-and-procedure developments via regular eZine and Gazette articles, and the annual employment and equality law LSPT seminar.

EU & INTERNATIONAL
AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

Cormac Little, Chair

Cormac Little SC, Chair

The EU and International Affairs Committee enjoyed another busy year in 2020/21.

The committee currently provides the Head of Irish Delegation and the Society’s representative to the Council of Bars and Law Societies in Europe (CCBE).

Relations with representatives of the legal profession in other EU member states are also maintained through annual round-table discussions with the Brussels-based representatives of other European bar associations. The most recent of these took place in October 2020.

In 2020, the committee established a formal relationship with the International Law Section of the California Lawyers’ Association (CLA). The committee and the CLA organised a webinar on 30 November 2020 titled ‘Unilateral action by big tech’.

Through these relationships, representation of the Law Society and the solicitors’ profession at an international level is fostered, while facilitating exchanges of information and debate on recent legal developments. In early 2021, the committee held a webinar titled ‘Rethinking Marleasing – a conversation with (then) Advocate General Gerard Hogan’. The committee also organised a webinar on ‘COVID-19 and the rise of big tech – how is competition law coping?’ The presentation was made available in late 2020 under the LegalEd series on the Law Society’s website.

In April 2021, the committee launched, in conjunction with the Council of Europe HELP (Human-rights Education for Legal Professionals) programme, a free online course on asylum and human rights.

Throughout the year, committee members have contributed articles for publication in the ‘Eurlegal’ section of the Gazette on various topics, including Brexit and migration.

I wish to express my sincere thanks to all members of the committee for their hard work and valuable contributions, and to our secretaries Deirdre Flynn and Suzanne Crilly for their unstinting support.

FAMILY AND CHILD LAW COMMITTEE

Helen Coughlan, Chair

Helen Coughlan, Chair

It has been a privilege to chair the Family and Child Law Committee during what has been an extremely busy year.

I have the good fortune of having exceptionally hardworking and enthusiastic members who volunteer their time and expertise so generously to the committee. Our remit to inform and update the profession, as well as the public, came into sharp focus throughout the last year, as COVID-19 affected every aspect of our lives. Our committee provided clear guidelines for both the profession and parents, covering such issues as access, maintenance, domestic violence, and attending court safely. We consulted widely during this time, and were delighted to build on the already strong relationships with our colleagues in the Bar and the Family Lawyers Association.

The committee engaged with the Courts Service and judiciary to ensure access to justice in the context of family-law proceedings. We successfully advocated for the reopening of the courts in a safe manner, and the use of remote hearings for procedural court applications. Family law is set to undergo fundamental changes, with the Family Court Bill having been approved by Cabinet and currently undergoing pre-legislative scrutiny. Our committee made detailed submissions to both the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and the Department of Justice’s Family Justice Oversight Group on the proposed legislation. Members of the committee participated in media interviews to highlight the need for reform, and the need to properly resource a family-law justice system. We also made detailed submissions to reform maintenance. The committee’s educational role has been facilitated through our annual conference (which was held online for the first time last November) and a number of articles, practice and guidance notes in the Gazette. Members have also contributed to CPD seminars and Law School programmes.

I wish to thank sincerely each and every member of the committee for their unstinting support, commitment, and hard work throughout the year, in particular Dr Geoffrey Shannon SC, my predecessor Keith Walsh SC, my vice-chair Aidan Reynolds, and our excellent secretary Fergal Mawe.

GAZETTE EDITORIAL
BOARD

Michael Kealey, Chair

Michael Kealey, Chair

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, the Law Society Gazette and its daily online news service Gazette.ie (active since 14 November 2018) continue to go from strength to strength. Solicitors rely heavily on both media channels to keep them informed of the most important legal news and analysis.

The Gazette magazine has a monthly print run of 13,000 and is produced to the highest ecological standards, using carbon-balanced paper, eco-friendly inks, and compostable bio-wraps.

The magazine’s interactive PDF (available online) continues to grow in popularity. There were 12,853 downloads of the magazine in PDF format from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021 – an increase of 7.7% over the previous year.

Piggybacking on the popularity of the magazine, Gazette.ie excelled during the year under review, setting new annual readership figures. There were 860,264 unique pageviews on the site – up 31% compared with the previous 12 months. Total pageviews recorded 1.18 million readers (up 52%).

The coronavirus lockdowns undoubtedly contributed to the growth in the readership base, both at home and overseas. Irish readers comprised 67% of the total, with 301,207 readers. Britain was in second place, with 35,799 readers (8%). The USA had 22,143 (5%), India 10,452 (2.3%), and Norway 5,084 (1%). The ‘average time spent on page’ was 1 minute, 24 seconds.

The Gazette team has been producing the magazine remotely now for 18 months, having successfully dealt with many challenges during that period. On a bright note, advertising revenue has been showing strong signs of recovery since the beginning of 2021. This is a welcome development, and one that the Gazette plans to build on in the year ahead.

I am most grateful to my Editorial Board colleagues for their dedication, commitment, and valuable contributions throughout the year. My congratulations, too, to the Gazette team on continuing to publish the magazine and Gazette.ie remotely, with a constant emphasis on production excellence.

GUIDANCE AND ETHICS COMMITTEE

Justine Carty, Chair

Justine Carty, Chair

Despite the impact of COVID-19, this has proved to be a highly productive year for the committee.

During the year under review, we produced a number of practice notes for the assistance of the profession, and we are currently engaged in a project to update the Guide to Good Professional Conduct for Solicitors.

The ‘Ten Steps’ project continued this year. In 2021, six ‘ten-step’ notes were published. These concise and easily accessible articles are published in the Gazette and on the Society’s website. They have focused on matters such as ethical decisions as a solicitor, strengthening your firm in a crisis, managing data and data protection in your firm, running a more costs-compliant firm, and how to create a more inclusive workplace.

The committee updated and republished two practice notes: ‘Emergency succession planning in a sole practitioner/principal’s firm’; and ‘Legal representation at the Mental Health Commission – guidelines for solicitors’. Both practice notes are available on the Law Society’s website.

As previously stated, the committee is currently updating the Guide to Good Professional Conduct for Solicitors, which will be the fourth edition of the guide. This publication provides best-practice guidance to members of the profession on matters of ethics and conduct. The booklet will be available for the profession in autumn 2021. The committee continues to support the profession through the Guidance and Ethics Helpline, where members of the profession can seek guidance on matters of conduct and ethics.

We also continue to support the work of the Panel to Assist Solicitors in Regulatory Difficulty, details of which are available on the Society’s website. The committee also maintains and updates the online ‘Get a Quote’ platform, which provides members of the public with access to a list of participating solicitors, available on the Society’s website. Currently, 377 firms participate.

HUMAN RIGHTS AND
EQUALITY COMMITTEE

Sinead Lucey, Chair

Sinead Lucey, Chair

Despite the challenges of the past year, the Human Rights and Equality Committee has continued to expand its membership, as well as its programme of work in promoting the law and practice of human rights among the profession and the public. Through committee member Alma Clissmann, the Law Society maintains representation at the Access to Justice Committee and the Human Rights Committee of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CBBE).

The 18th annual Human Rights Conference, marking the 70th anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights, was hosted online and explored issues around the procedural requirements of article 2 of the convention, post-death investigations, and the right to life. It specifically considered its application in the Irish context and examined international developments – most prominently the Hillsborough case. The event enjoyed a large audience and received very positive feedback from practitioners.

The committee prepared numerous submissions, including collaborating with other Society committees. In September 2020, jointly with the Litigation Committee and the Criminal Law Committee, a submission was made to the Oireachtas Special Committee on COVID-19 Response. Some of the Society’s recommendations were included in the final report of the special committee. In March 2021, the committee made a submission on Ireland’s Third National Report to the UN Universal Periodic Review 2021, in addition to providing observations on the General Scheme of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill and the Dying with Dignity Bill 2020.

The committee is engaged with the organisation of the annual Human Rights Conference, as well as continuing its awareness initiatives with regular contributions to the Gazette.

My sincere thanks go to all members of the committee for their valuable contributions, hard work, and insightful input throughout the year. In particular, I wish to express my appreciation to vice-chair Gary Lee, and to Michelle Lynch and Nadya Lazarova as secretaries to the committee, for their work and assistance.

IN-HOUSE AND
PUBLIC SECTOR
COMMITTEE

Anna Marie Curry, Chair

Anna Marie Curry, Chair

On 5 November 2020, the committee held its annual conference, ‘Enhancing the effectiveness of the in-house legal team and legal professional privilege for the inhouse solicitor.’ We liaised with the Litigation Committee regarding submissions made by the Society on section 16(10) of the Consumer Insurance Contracts Act 2019 in August 2020 and January 2021.

We liaised with the Regulation Department regarding the production of the Professional Indemnity Insurance Committee’s practice note, ‘In-house solicitors and pro bono work’, published in the June 2021 Gazette. The committee continued to liaise with the Gazette to ensure that content relevant to in-house solicitors was included. Our vice-chair, Caroline Dee Brown, is the committee’s liaison on the Gazette Editorial Board. The monthly ‘Inhouse update’ continued to be published on the Society’s website and in the members’ eZine.

We provided input to the Guidance and Ethics Committee regarding the updating of its Guide to Good Professional Conduct for Solicitors.

On 27 May 2021, the committee held its panel discussion, ‘Remote working and the in-house solicitor’. On 14 October 2021, the committee will hold its annual conference. Topics will include hybrid working, wellbeing, and Ireland as a choice of law for jurisdiction and arbitration clauses.

The chair continued to represent the Society at General Assemblies of the European Company Lawyers’ Association.

The committee continued to provide guidance on queries received. A Guide for In-house Solicitors Employed in the Corporate and Public Sectors provides prospective and existing in-house solicitors with key information, coupled with the Society’s Regulatory Guide for In-house Solicitors Employed in the Corporate and Public Sectors. I wish to thank all committee members for their contributions this year, with special thanks to Caroline Dee Brown (vice-chair) and Louise Campbell (secretary).

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY & DATA PROTECTION LAW COMMITTEE

Deirdre Kilroy, Chair

Deirdre Kilroy, Chair

The committee has had an exceptionally active year, partly due to the implementation of EU legislation, Brexit, and the implications of COVID-19.

Interactions with other organisations of interest included constructive meetings with:

  • The IP Unit of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, to discuss the implementation of the Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market, among other topics,
  • The Data Protection Commission, to discuss a range of data issues, including international transfers and data-collecting and processing in post-Brexit and COVID-19 contexts,
  • The Revenue Commissioners, to discuss issues involving the importation of counterfeit goods arising from Brexit, and
  • The Intellectual Property Office of Ireland, to discuss a range of topics, including feedback in relation to user experiences with its website.

In June 2021, we responded to the World Intellectual Property Organisation’s questionnaire on IP and private international law issues, and made a submission in response to the Data Protection Commission’s consultation on its strategic policy.

The committee also had discussions with the Ireland for Law group members on a range of issues. In the first part of 2021, we made a submission to the Department of Justice recommending changes to the Data Protection Act 2018 to address an Irish law issue regarding the European Commission’s new standard contractual clauses for international transfers. A statutory instrument dealing with this issue was passed in June 2021.

The committee continues to assist practitioners in their implementation of data-protection obligations, including by liaising with the Litigation, Employment, Probate, Guidance and Ethics, and other committees. Committee members have written articles for the Gazette and guidance notes for the profession. Members also worked with Law Society Finuas Skillnet to provide an IP CPD webinar and on-demand online GDPR training.

I wish to thank the committee members for their collaboration, good humour, support and hard work throughout the year.

LITIGATION COMMITTEE

 

Lisa Carty, Chair

Lisa Carty, Chair

The Litigation Committee has had another busy year supporting the profession. Unfortunately, COVID-19 was still dominant in our professional and personal lives, and a substantial amount of our work was spent dealing with:

  • Remote hearings, continuity of service, and access to justice,
  • Developing a remote-hearings protocol and guide for the Law Society and Courts Service (this was done by vice-chair Joe O’Malley in conjunction with Eamonn Harrington and Ernest Cantillon, whose contributions – despite not being members of the committee – were greatly appreciated),
  • Remote swearing of affidavits, resulting in the passing of Statutory Instrument 127/2021. We have also engaged on other significant issues, such as:
  • Personal-injuries guidelines (in addition to updates to the profession, members of the committee arranged, and presented at, a seminar for members in May 2021),
  • District Court scale costs,
  • The discount rate (as it relates to personal injuries),
  • Public consultation on the transposition of Directive 2020/1828 on representative actions for the protection of the collective interests of consumers,
  • Public consultation on enhancing and reforming PIAB,
  • The Review of the Administration of Civil Justice,
  • Continued engagement with external bodies, such as VHI and PIAB,
  • Negative interest rates in the context of the Accountant’s Office,
  • Working (with other committees) on issues such as data protection, the Consumer Insurance Contracts Act 2019 (implications for legal-advice privilege), and the presentation of a seminar on mediation.

The annual seminar took place remotely on 29 October 2020. It proved to be a great success due to the presence of several distinguished speakers.

I wish to recognise the well-deserved granting of patents of precedence to a number of our committee members, including Stuart Gilhooly SC, Áine Hynes SC, Liam Kennedy SC, and Damien Tansey SC. Finally, I would like to thank every member of the committee for their generous contributions this year, in particular Joe O’Malley (vice-chair) and Riona Leahy (our new secretary), who ensured we met our objectives and our deadlines.

PROBATE, ADMINISTRATION AND TRUSTS COMMITTEE

Pat Bradley, Chair

Pat Bradley, Chair

As with other committees, the most significant issue facing our committee was the ongoing pandemic and the various levels of opening and reopening of Government departments and society at large, and the effect this had on practitioners dealing with the Probate Office, the Revenue Commissioners, the Wards of Court Office, and financial institutions in particular.

The other significant change this year was the introduction of the online version of the Inland Revenue Affidavit, the Statement of Affairs (Probate) Form SA 2, and the ongoing engagement required to ensure that initial ‘teething troubles’ were adequately catered for, and that issues that arose in relation to the implementation of the online form were dealt with in a timely fashion by the Revenue Commissioners. This is an ongoing matter that the committee deals with as issues both technical and legal come to our attention. In addition, the committee continues to interact with the Revenue Commissioners on areas of concern through TALC and the relevant subcommittees.

A related issue was the delay in obtaining PPS numbers for overseas beneficiaries from Client Identity Services in the Department of Social Protection. Following high-level engagement with the department by the committee, adequate resources were allocated to this area in December, with a dedicated email address for longstanding applications being provided. While this issue appears to be resolved, the committee will keep it under review. Another significant issue was the introduction by the Probate Office of new forms of oath of executor, and oath and bond for administrators, either on intestacy or with will annexed. It is hoped that the new-form oath, and oath and bond together, with a rationalised fee structure, will aid practitioners in applying for grants in the future.

The committee continues to liaise with the Probate Office on matters including delays reported by members and issues arising in relation to changes in probate-practice procedure and the related updating of the probate section of the Courts Service website. Delays and inconsistencies continue to be an issue for practitioners dealing with the Probate Office. One change to practice from the Probate Office that we welcome is the use of email to clarify points of concern with practitioners, instead of rejecting applications.

As usual, the committee provided guidance to colleagues on areas of the law and practice as they relate to probate and trusts, and provided specific guidance on best practice, both through the eZine and to colleagues individually. We continue to protect the right of clients in nursing homes to have free access to their solicitor without third party interference, in cooperation with the Mental Health and Capacity Task Force. We continue to engage with the relevant Government departments on the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015.

GDPR came up as an issue before the committee for the first time this year, and we continue to engage with financial institutions to remind them of their unchanged duty to provide certain details in relation to surviving joint-account holders.

Following successful engagement with the Department of Justice on the proposed private member’s Registration of Wills Bill 2016, the minister has stated that it is not her intention to continue with this bill.

We are continuing to liaise with the Charities Regulatory Authority about their online version of the PAS 3 Charitable Bequest Form, with a view to making improvements.

We continued our work regarding the Fourth, and now the Fifth AML Directive, in conjunction with the AML Task Force, and highlighting the potential unintended consequences of its transposition into Irish law in relation to simple will trusts for minor or incapacitated beneficiaries. In particular, we continue to engage with our colleagues on the AML Task Force on the registration of trusts and the responsibilities for solicitors and our clients in this regard. The issue of difficulties being encountered by trustees in opening trust accounts is also being addressed.

With the assistance of our colleagues in Law Society Professional Training, the committee held an online conference in March 2021 covering the recent changes to the forms of oath and bond, the form SA 2, and other changes to probate practice and procedure. This conference was well attended and positively received. In addition, committee members continue to speak at Law Society and other online events and seminars.

Challenges for 2021/22 include dealing with the ongoing effect of the pandemic on practice, including lobbying for reform of the law in relation to ‘presence’ when witnessing a will or when swearing or affirming an affidavit.

We will continue to explore the possibility of solicitors availing of the dormant-accounts legislation for relatively small sums languishing in client accounts: this has become more urgent since the introduction of negative interest rates. We continue to lobby for an increase in Probate Office staff, the continuation of the District Probate Registries, greater technical support for the Probate Office, and a review of the CAT ROS system in order to remove ongoing technical difficulties, and to ensure that solicitors have access to the relevant information they need in order to provide this to their clients.

My thanks to committee secretary Padraic Courtney and all the committee members for their hard work over the year.

PUBLIC RELATIONS COMMITTEE

Sonia McEntee

Sonia McEntee, Chair

The Public Relations Committee works alongside the director of representation and member services, Teri Kelly, and the RMS Department on key communications projects for, and on behalf of, Law Society members.

In early 2020, a PR campaign was approved to reassure clients and members of the public that solicitors were designated as essential service providers and that, although doors may be closed, solicitors continued to work and were available to assist. Advertisements were placed in The Irish Times, on local and national radio stations, and in several local papers across Ireland in May and June 2020. The second phase of that campaign took a different approach, focusing on key areas of legal services, including property and employment law. Once again, the advertisement was placed in The Irish Times, regional newspapers, on local and national radio, and on social media. In 2021, a new campaign was designed, focusing on the commitment solicitors make to their clients.

One of the annual highlights of the Society’s year – the Justice Media Awards – was once again presented online. The overall winner for 2021 was Second Captains, for the BBC Sounds podcast detailing the efforts made by journalist Mark Horgan and filmmaker Ciarán Cassidy to track down George Gibney in the US. A total of 200 entries were received this year, and a new category of ‘Best Student Journalism’ was successfully launched. The online presentation can be enjoyed on www.jmawards.ie.

Our annual Communications Day is planned for November 2021. The event is always well attended. The PR Committee was engaged with the Taskforce on Negative Interest Rate Charges and assisted in delivering a presentation to representatives of over 20 bar associations, who then contributed to a high-profile campaign (at national and regional level) against the charges being levied on solicitors’ clients’ accounts. The format for this presentation was highly successful, and is one to be used further when required.

Meetings continued to be held online during 2020/21. This format has worked well for the committee, and online accessibility to meetings will be retained into the future. I wish to thank the members of the committee for their engagement, commitment, and valuable contributions, and I look forward to continuing this work in the year ahead.

TAXATION COMMITTEE

 

John Cuddigan, Chair

John Cuddigan, Chair

The Taxation Committee has had another busy year representing the Law Society and its members in its engagement with the Revenue Commissioners and other stakeholders.

Committee members actively participate in the Tax Administration Liaison Committee (TALC) and its relevant subcommittees, which deal with direct taxes, indirect taxes, capital taxes, audit, tax technical, collection tax issues, base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS), KDB, R&D, and the Leasing Working Group. The committee is also represented on the CCBE Taxation Group and the Letters of No Audit (LONA) subgroup.

The committee also reviewed, to the extent appropriate, and commented on the provisions of the Finance Act 2020 as it passed through the legislative process, and summarised its relevant consequences in the annual Tax Guide, published and distributed to members.

The committee made numerous submissions to Revenue, both via the TALC forum and directly to Revenue/ Department of Finance in respect of issues concerning practitioners. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the committee made tax and other recommendations to assist business and individuals.

We prepared a pre-budget submission, submitted to the Minister for Finance and other relevant Government departments. The dedication of committee members in this regard is acknowledged, as the time commitment has been considerable in light of the continually changing fiscal environment.

We continue to provide updates to the profession (via practice notes and CPD) on changes to tax legislation and Revenue practice and procedures. We responded to the taxation queries raised by members throughout the year. The chair was notified by Michael O’Connor – one of our most committed and able members – of his wish to retire from the committee. I would like to specifically acknowledge Michael’s excellent contribution to the committee over a long number of years. I have been ably assisted in my role by the committee’s secretary Dr Rachael Hession, and I thank her for her support and assistance throughout the year. My thanks also to vice-chair Andrew Quinn and the committee members for their commitment and contributions.

TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE

 

Jane Bourke, Chair

Jane Bourke, Chair

The Technology Committee monitors the use of technology for the benefit of the profession, and it continues to represent solicitors and the Law Society through its interactions with the Courts Service, Revenue Commissioners, Property Registration Authority, and other Government agencies.

The committee is very aware of the need to alert members to the possibility of a cyber-attack, to which end it organised four webinars through the Law Society’s Small Practice Business Hub on this topic. The committee urges members to be vigilant, to educate their staff, and to report any attack to the Society. A report outlining the problems with the banks’ EFT validation process – which, in the committee’s view, was affording fraudsters an opportunity to target members – was forwarded to the president. Representatives from the committee continue to work with the Courts Service on the implementation of the Remote Courts Hearing Project. This project is longterm, and Government investment, both in resources and infrastructure, will determine its success.

Committee members attend regular meetings with Revenue on e-stamping and e-licensing, and with the Property Registration Authority user group. This year, the committee published guidance notes on tips for Zoom/virtual meetings, and on due-diligence questions for prospective case-management software providers. The committee is also preparing a submission on the digitisation of justice in the EU, as well as a series of articles for the Gazette on the use of technology and disability inclusion. Other activity includes the submission of proposals on ways of using IT to reduce our carbon footprint, and keeping a watching brief on developments with blockchain technology and how it will affect the legal profession.

I wish to thank my vice-chair Michael Monahan for all his support and valued input; our hard-working committee members, who ensure that we achieve our goals; and our diligent secretary, Veronica Donnelly.

YOUNGER MEMBERS COMMITTEE

Avril Flannery, Chair

Avril Flannery, Chair

The Younger Members Committee represents members of the profession who are in their first seven years of practice (regardless of age). We aim to promote the professional development of younger members, and we advocate their interests by engagement, networking, and holding events.

We work closely with the Law Society’s career-support section on innovative projects. We have proposed a new approach and design of the ‘CV Register’. Furthermore, while we were unable to run our annual conference in 2020, we pivoted and developed a series of online career information sessions with Career Support. Committee members have volunteered as ‘Law School ambassadors’ and have contributed to the work of the Society’s Environmental and Sustainability in Practice Task Force, the Remote Courts Task Force, the Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI) Task Force, the Law School’s Competency Framework Round Table, the Employment Committee’s submission on remote working, the Guidance and Ethics Committee, and the Legal Services Regulatory Authority’s upcoming survey on access to the profession.

We continue to raise awareness among trainee solicitors about the work of the Law Society and the benefits of membership by regularly addressing trainees during PPC2. We are also in the process of launching a survey of all members on the future of working. It is hoped that the results will be shared at our autumn annual conference, titled ‘The Future Lawyer – 2030’.

The committee became a member of the European Young Bar Association and has fostered connections internationally with the England and Wales Junior Lawyers Division, the Scottish Young Lawyers’ Association, and the American Bar Association’s Young Lawyers Division. Nationally, we collaborate with other groups, such as OUTLaw and the Irish Women Lawyers Association. Earlier this year, we co-hosted a virtual book review of Colm Tóibín’s The Heather Blazing with the Bar of Ireland’s Young Bar Committee.

I wish to thank all of our committee members for their hard work this year, with special thanks to our vice-chair Brendan Hayes and Michelle Nolan (committee secretary).

Committee Membership

STANDING COMMITTEES

COMPLAINTS AND CLIENT RELATIONS

Chair: Flor McCarthy
Vice-chairs: Jonathan White

Solicitor members
Elaine Given
Joyce Good Hammond
Peter Groarke
Waheed Mudah
Lay members
Chair: Dan Murphy
Brian Callanan
Michael Carr
Ultan Courtney
Frank Cunneen
Tom O’Sullivan
Chris Rowland
Secretary: Eamon Maguire

COORDINATION

Chair: James Cahill
Members:
Michelle Ní Longáin
Barry MacCarthy
Michele O’Boyle
Dan O’Connor
Maura Derivan
Mary Keane
Secretary: Mary Keane

EDUCATION

Chair: Richard Hammond SC
Vice-chair: : Brendan Cunningham
Members
Justine Carty
Martin Crotty
Paul Egan SC
Barbara Galvin
Eamon Harrington
James Murphy
Carol Plunkett
Ex officio
James Cahill
Michelle Ní Longáin
Barry MacCarthy
Consultants:
Colm Costello
Alison Egan
John O’Connor
Michael V O’Mahony
Michael Peart
Valerie Peart
Brendan Twomey
Secretary: Paula Sheedy

FINANCE

Chair: Chris Callan
Vice-chair: Paul Keane
Members
Maura Derivan
Patrick Dorgan
Paul Egan SC
Stuart Gilhooly SC
Eamon Harrington
Julie Herlihy
Rosemarie Loftus
Eugene McCague
Michele O’Boyle
Dan O’Connor
Martin Lawlor
Michael Quinlan
Imelda Reynolds
Austin Slattery
Brendan Twomey
Ex officio:
James Cahill
Michelle Ní Longáin
Barry MacCarthy
Secretary: Cillian MacDomhnaill

MONEY-LAUNDERING REPORTING

Chair: Martin Crotty
Frank Bowen
Chris Callan
Brendan Cunningham
John Elliot
Frank Mee
James Murphy
Dara Robinson SC
Secretary: Tina Beattie

PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE

Chair: Barry MacCarthy
Vice-chair: Bill Holohan SC
Members
John Elliot
Derek Gately
Maria Lakes
Lorna McAuliffe
Flor McCarthy
Shane Neville
Louise O’Reilly
Lorraine Rowland
Adrian Shanley
Brendan Twomey
Lay member: Jim O’Mahoney
Consultant: David Curran
Secretary: Sorcha Hayes

REGULATION OF PRACTICE

Chair: Imelda Reynolds
Vice-chairs: Garry Clarke
Brendan Cunningham
Terry Leggett
Martin Crotty (Advertising Regulations Division)
Dara Robinson SC

Members
Chris Callan
Gerard Carroll
Deborah Crowley
Anne-Marie Dermody
Leonora Doyle
Tara Doyle
Frank Gearty
Theresa Ham
David Higgins
Siún Hurley
Áine Hynes SC
David Lavelle
Rosemarie Loftus
Mary McAveety
Shane McCarthy
Katherine McMahon
Patrick McNeice
James Murphy
Juli Rea
Noeleen Redmond
Claire Ryan
Eamonn Shannon
James Ward
Lay members
Frank Bowen
Richard George
Frank Mee
Tony Weldon
Secretary: John Elliot

NON-STANDING COMMITTEES

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Chair: Alison Kelleher
Vice-chair: Éamonn Conlon SC
Members
Michael Carrigan
Liam Guidera
Deirdre Hennessy
Noreen Howard
Karen Killoran
Helen Kilroy
James Kinch
Brian McMullin
Barry Sheehan
Keith Walsh SC
Secretary: John Lunney

BUSINESS LAW

Chair: Neil Keenan
Vice-chair: Maire Cunningham
Members
Philip Andrews
Cillian Balfe
Joy Compton
Niamh Counihan
Eleanor Daly
Philip Daly
JP Gilmartin
Richard Grey
Michael Hanley
Patricia Heavey
Suzanne Kearney
Adrian Mannion
Justin McKenna
Seán Nolan
Fiona O’Connell
Gavin O’Flaherty
John Olden
Alvin Price
Paul Ryan
Eamonn Shannon
Lorcan Tiernan

Consultant: Paul Keane

Secretary: Joanne Cox

CONVEYANCING

Chair: Orla Coyne
Vice-chair: Michael Walsh
Members
Suzanne Bainton
Mark Barr
Gabriel Brennan
Joan Byrne
Tom Davy
Majella Egan
Deirdre Fox
Joyce Good Hammond
Ann Marie Keane
Geraldine Kelly
Niamh Mahon
Keith McConnell
Jason McGoey
Eleanor McKiernan
Leona McMahon
Peter O’Dea
Dermot O’Dwyer
Tony O’Sullivan
Michael P Quinlan
Patrick Sweetman
Joseph Thomas
Consultants: Sandra Murphy Rory O’Donnell
Secretary: Catherine O’Flaherty

CRIMINAL LAW

Chair: Helena Kiely
Vice-chair: John O’Doherty
Members:
Yvonne Bambury
Amanda Connolly
Carina Davidson
Vincent Deane
Jonathan Dunphy
Alan Gannon
Matthew Kenny
Eileen McCabe
Darach McCarthy
Shane McCarthy
Margaret McEvilly
James MacGuill SC
Fergus Mullen
Joan O’Brien
Emer O’Sullivan
Robert Purcell
Richard Young
Consultants:
Hugh Sheridan
Michael Staines SC
Secretary: Geraldine Rafferty

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT UNIT

Chair: Brendan Twomey
Vice-chair: Martin Crotty
Members:
Aaron Boyle
Jill Callanan
Colm Costello
Ruth Craig
Emma Crowley
Patrick Diggins
Tara Doyle
Freda Grealy
Edel Hartog
Bill Holohan SC
T P Kennedy
Susan Martin
Gemma Neylon
Robert Purcell
Keavy Ryan
Bernadette Smith
Secretary: Geoffrey Shannon SC

EMPLOYMENT AND EQUALITY LAW

Chair: Catherine O’Flynn
Vice-chair: Barry Walsh
Members
Susan Battye
Geraldine Carr
Maura Connolly
Áine Curran
Michael Doyle
Wendy Doyle
Karen Duggan
Richard Grogan
Joanne Hyde
Janice Kavanagh
Karen Killalea
Sineád Likely
Deirdre Malone
Ciara McLoughlin
Rhona Murphy
Ronnie Neville
Louise O’Byrne
Emer O’Callaghan
Anne O’Connell
Einde O’Donnell
Breda O’Malley
Hugh O’Neill
Jane O’Sullivan
Terence O’Sullivan
Barry Reynolds
Siobhra Rush
Emily Sexton
Secretary: Liam Dunne

EU AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Chair: Cormac Little SC
Vice-chair: Ross McMahon
Members:
Martin Cooney
Katrina Donnelly
Jessica Egan
Duncan Grehan
Niamh Hodnett
Anthony Joyce
Richard Kelly
Tara Kelly
T P Kennedy
Alan McCarthy
Maureen O’Neill
Barry Sheehan
Secretary: Suzanne Crilly

FAMILY AND CHILD LAW

(with responsibility also for civil legal aid)
Chair: Helen Coughlan
Vice-chair: Aidan Reynolds
Members:
Ailbhe Burke
Eamonn Carroll
Brendan Dillon
Peter Doyle
Lorna Duffy
Liz Healy
Clodagh Hopkins
Siún Hurley
Sinead Kearney
Geraldine Keehan
Denise Kirwan
Josepha Madigan
Donagh McGowan
Gareth Noble
Michele O’Boyle
Jennifer O’Brien
Geoffrey Shannon SC
Annette Sheehan
Emily Sherlock
Keith Walsh SC
Susan Webster
Consultants: Rosemary Horgan
Joan O’Mahony
Secretary: Fergal Mawe

GAZETTE EDITORIAL BOARD

Chair: Michael Kealey
Members
Aoife Byrne
Ken Casey
Mairéad Cashman
Caroline Dee-Brown
Hilary Forde
Richard Hammond SC
Mary Keane
Teri Kelly
Paul Lavery
Aisling Meehan
Heather Murphy
Robert Purcell
Andrew Sheridan
Secretary: Mark McDermott

GUIDANCE AND ETHICS

(with responsibility also for guidance on practice management)
Chair: Justine Carty
Vice-chair: Graham Farrell
Members
Robert Baker
Helene Coffey
Gus Cullen
Conor Dalton
Maura Derivan
Liz Dowling
Sean Durcan
Charles Gilmartin
John G Harte
Morette Kinsella
Susan Martin
Sharon McElligott
Catherine MacGinley
Michael Moran
Cian Moriarty
Ann-Marie Ryan
Madeleine Thornton
Consultant: Brendan Dillon
Secretary: Pamela Connolly

HUMAN RIGHTS AND EQUALITY

Chair: Sinead Lucey
Vice-chair: Gary Lee
Members
Shalom Binchy
Grainne Brophy
Alma Clissmann
Kieran Cummins
Aine Flynn
Diego Gallagher
Patricia Hynes
Barbara Joyce
Marie Kinsella
Stephen Kirwan
Fred Logue
Shane McCarthy
Sandra Moloney
Clare Naughton
Patrice O’Keeffe
Ashimedua Okonkwo
Thomas Reilly
Cristina Stamatescu
Rose Wall
Consultant: Noeline Blackwell
Secretary: Nadya Lazarova

Committee Membership (Cont'd)

IN-HOUSE AND PUBLIC SECTOR

Chair: Anna-Marie Curry
Vice-chair: Caroline Dee-Brown
Members:
Michael Barrett
Alison Bradshaw
Justine Carty
Sarah Jane Clifford
Jeanette Codd McDonagh
Gwen Considine
Ciara Daly
Aisling Fitzgerald
Robert Heron
Audrey Huggard
Ronan Lennon
Helen Lyster
Roisin Magee
Áine McCarthy
Deirdre McDermott
Laura McGovern
Margaret Maguire
Aideen Neylon
Gemma Neylon
Richard O’Sullivan
Thomas Reilly
Evelyn Savage
Peter White
Secretary: Louise Campbell

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND DATA PROTECTION LAW

Chair: Deirdre Kilroy
Vice-chair: Paul Lavery
Members
Mary Bleahene
John Cahir
Simon Carty
Maureen Daly
Ann Henry
James Hickey
Gerard Kelly
Fred Logue
Flor McCarthy
Patricia McGovern
Elaine McGrath
David McMunn
Leo Moore
Elaine Morrissey
Olivia Mullooly
Aoife Murphy
Fiona O’Beirne
Alistair Payne
Barry Scannell
Laura Scott
Irina Sharapova
Consultant: Tara MacMahon
Secretary: Katherine Kane

LITIGATION

Chair: Lisa Carty
Vice-chair: Joseph O’Malley
Members:
Michael Boylan
Amy Bradley
Fiona Duffy
Áine Hynes SC
Barry Kelleher
Liam Kennedy SC
Martina Larkin
Conor MacGuill
Rowena McCormack
Karen McDonnell
Ann McGarry
Conor Minogue
Sonya Morrissy Murphy
Jack O’Brien
Gerald O’Flynn
Sinead Power
Colette Reid
Julie Sadlier
Damien Tansey SC
Catherine Tarrant
Aisling Woods
Consultant: Stuart Gilhooly SC
Secretary: Riona Leahy

PROBATE, ADMINISTRATION AND TRUSTS

Chair: Pat Bradley
Vice-chair: Anne Stephenson
Members
Catherine Bourke
Gareth Bourke
Gwen Bowen
Bernadette Cahill
Ciara Cahill
Georgina Drum
Richard Hammond SC
Damien Jordan
Maurice Joy
Aileen Keogan
Morette Kinsella
Ita Lyster
Kevin Martin
Tom Martyn
Veronica Neville
Mary Nolan
Ciara O’Callaghan
Tracey O’Donnell
Michael P Quinlan
Gemma Stack
Margaret Walsh
Secretary: Padraic Courtney

PUBLIC RELATIONS

Chair: Sonia McEntee
Vice-chair: Susan Webster
Members:
Robert Baker
Maura Derivan
Michael Kealey
Teri Kelly
Chris Murnane
Dan O’Connor
Secretary: Miriam Taber

TAXATION

Chair: John Cuddigan
Vice-chair: Andrew Quinn
Members:
Deirdre Barnicle
Pat Bradley
Niamh Caffrey
Caroline Devlin
Maura Dineen
Aidan Fahy
Donal Kennedy
David Lawless
Sonya Manzor
Tom Martyn
Ruairi Mulrean
Michael O’Connor
Suzanne Parker
James Somerville
Secretary: Rachael Hession

TECHNOLOGY

Chair: Jane Bourke
Vice-chair: Michael Monahan
Members:
Neil Butler
John Furlong
Jim Heney
Brian Horkan
Eamonn Keenan
Jeanne Kelly
Flor McCarthy
Kate McKenna
Peter McKenna
Gemma Neylon
Labhaoise Ní Fhaoláin
Greg Ryan
Reamonn Smith
Secretary: Derek Owens

YOUNGER MEMBERS

Chair: Avril Flannery
Vice-chair: Brendan Hayes
Members:
Tarisai May Chidawanyika
Maeve Delargy
Jennifer Dorgan
Amy Grant
Fiona McNulty
Cian Moriarty
Jennifer O’Sullivan
Michael Quinlan
Hannah Shaw
Aisling Woods
Observer: current auditor of SADSI
Secretary: Michelle Nolan

SOCIETY WORKING GROUPS AND TASK FORCES

AML TASK FORCE

Chair: James MacGuill SC
Members:
Brian Bohan
David Brangam
Chris Callan
John Elliot
Mary Keane
Paul Keane
Martin Lawlor
Cormac Little SC
Paraic Madigan
John Olden
Secretary: Emma-Jane Williams

BENBURB STREET DEVELOPMENT TASK FORCE

Chair: Patrick Dorgan
Vice-chair: Tim Bouchier-Hayes
Members:
James Cahill
Cillian Mac Domhnaill
Norman Craig
Padraic Halligan
Secretary: Kate Browne

eCONVEYANCING TASK FORCE

Chair: Eamonn Keenan
Vice-chair: Neil Butler
Members:
Gabriel Brennan
Patrick Dorgan
Majella Egan
Deirdre Fox
Sonia McEntee
Clodagh O’Hagan
Martina Ward-Clancy
Secretary: Liam Barrett

ENVIRONMENTAL AND SUSTAINABILITY IN PRACTICE TASK FORCE

Chair: Flor McCarthy
Vice-chair: Jane Bourke
Members:
Margaret Austin
Teri Kelly
Conor Linehan SC
Sinead Martyn
Fergal Mawe
Rachel Minch SC
Gabriel Toolan
Secretary: Justin Purcell

LEGAL SERVICES REGULATION ACT TASK FORCE

Chair: Paul Keane
Members:
Chris Callan
Martin Crotty
Paul Egan SC
John Elliot
Stuart Gilhooly SC
Sorcha Hayes
Rachael Hession
Áine Hynes SC
Liam Kennedy SC
Morette Kinsella
Martin Lawlor
Flor McCarthy
Attracta O’Regan
Michael Quinlan
Imelda Reynolds
Robert Ryan
Keith Walsh SC
Secretary: Simon Treanor

MENTAL HEALTH AND CAPACITY TASK FORCE

Chair: Richard Hammond SC
Vice-chair: Áine Hynes SC
Members:
Padraic Courtney
Maria Dillon
Joan Doran
Olive Doyle
Mark Felton
Patricia Hickey
Katharine Kelleher
Morette Kinsella
Shane McCarthy
Anne Stephenson
Gabriel Toolan
Keith Walsh SC
Margaret Walsh
Secretary: Cian Monahan

PRACTICE SUPPORT TASK FORCE


Chair: Shane McCarthy
Vice-chair: Sonia McEntee
Members:
Richard Grogan
Richard Hammond SC
David Higgins
Morette Kinsella
Brendan Twomey
Secretary: Justin Purcell

TASK FORCE TO DEVISE A STRATEGY IN RELATION TO BANKING CHARGES ON DEPOSITS

Chair: Maura Derivan
Members:
James Cahill
Paul Egan SC
John Elliot
Richard Hammond SC
Paul Keane
Teri Kelly
Liam Kennedy SC
Imelda Reynolds
Joint secretary: Michael O’Connor (Regulation),
Derek Owens (Communications)

Reports and consolidated financial statements

For the year ended 31 December 2020

The Finance Committee is required to prepare financial statements for each financial year.

Click on the link below to view the Law Society of Ireland Reports and Consolidated Financial Statements for the financial year ended 31 December 2020.

LAW SOCIETY OF IRELAND COMPENSATION FUND

For the year ended 31 December 2020

The Regulation of Practice Committee is responsible for ensuring that financial statements are prepared each year which fairly present in all material respects the state of affairs of the Law Society of Ireland Compensation Fund and of its result for that period.

Click on the link below to view the Report and Financial Statements for the Law Society of Ireland Compensation Fund for the financial year ended 31 December 2020.

Commitment to the environment

The Law Society of Ireland is committed to energy efficiency, minimising waste, reducing water consumption, encouraging greener modes of transport, and generally encouraging a culture of sustainability and an awareness of our impact on the environment.

 A limited number of hard-copy annual reports have been produced for administrative, accessibility and archival
purposes.

Our full Corporate Responsibility Statement is available at: www.lawsociety.ie/csr

Index

Click on any link below for more details.