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About Law Society of Ireland

The Law Society of Ireland is the educational, representative and regulatory body of the solicitors’ profession in Ireland

20,531 names on the Roll of solicitors in Ireland

The Law Society exercises statutory functions under the Solicitors Acts 1954 to 2015 in relation to the education, admission, enrolment, 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.

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.

MEMBERSHIP

As at 30 June 2019, there were:

  • 20,531 names on the Roll of Solicitors in Ireland
  • 11,618 practising certificates in this jurisdiction

PRESIDENT'S REPORT

The theme for my year in office has been the active development and promotion of gender equality, diversity and inclusion within the Law Society’s Council and committees, and throughout the profession.

The Law Society’s Small Practice Support Project is a wide-ranging strategic plan to support and develop smaller firms.

To this end, a special task force has been working hard to develop useful tools and resources to ensure our profession’s leaders reflect the growing diversity within the profession. The Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI) Task Force has met on several occasions in recent months and will publish a report shortly. This will contain practical tools and recommendations that can be put into action in firms, large and small, around the country.

Patrick Dorgan, President

The director general and I represented the Law Society at the annual Dublin Pride parade as guests of OUTLaw, the LGBT+ network for individuals and supporters in the Irish legal sector. The Society flew the Pride flag for the first time at Blackhall Place in June, which is a small but significant piece of Law Society history.

Wellbeing project

Continuing the important work started by my predecessor Michael Quinlan, the Law Society’s excellent Professional Wellbeing Project has been launched. Based on independent research by our consultants, Psychology at Work, it has been designed to address the specific issues you have told us you experience in the course of your work as solicitors.

Support for smaller practices

In February, the Society launched the Small Practice Support Project, which is aimed directly at the more than 2,000 firms with five or fewer solicitors. It’s a wideranging strategic plan to support and develop smaller firms, based on an excellent report by management consultants Crowe. Some of the key resources include a dedicated online Small Practice Business Hub, regular small-practice eBulletins, education resources, and growth, marketing and networking advice and tools.

Insurance controversy

One of the major social and networking events in the Law Society is the annual dinner, at which we were honoured with the presence of An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as our guest of honour. The Taoiseach referred to the current cost-of-insurance controversy.

I questioned why the focus of attention was on the level of personal injury awards in Ireland, compared with England and Wales, when the true focus of attention should be on the levels of premiums in the two jurisdictions.

It is of vital importance that, if there is to be a reduction in awards, the Government must also insist on a cast-iron guarantee that premiums will reduce. We continue to ‘go to bat’ on behalf of our members and injury victims. That particular story shows no sign of ending soon.

Continuing professional development (CPD) is a key pillar of the Law Society’s work. The cluster events around the country remain one of the most valued and valuable aspects of the Society’s CPD programme, supported by Law Society Finuas Skillnet. In addition to being educational, they (alongside bar association meetings) provide a great opportunity to meet with colleagues across Ireland on their home turf.

Finally, one of the highlights of the year was the annual Calcutta Run, which celebrated its 21st birthday in May. Huge thanks are due to the 1,500 colleagues who took part by walking, running, cycling or playing in the soccer and tennis tournaments. The funds raised this year will be added to the amazing €4 million raised during the first 20 years of the event. It was moving and very motivating to hear directly from those involved in the Fr Peter McVerry Trust, the Hope Foundation, and SHARE (Cork). The money raised goes directly to producing major improvements – often life changing – for those they help.

Patrick Dorgan,
President, Law Society of Ireland

DIRECTOR GENERAL'S REPORT

“Collegiality is crucial to the success of our mission.” – Judge Ruth Bader Ginsberg

This past spring saw the passing of Moya Quinlan - the first woman president whose collegiality was an inspirational example to us all

When ‘the notorious’ Ruth Bader Ginsberg speaks these words, she is describing the internal dynamics of the US Supreme Court on which she continues to serve, with distinction, at the astonishing age of 86.

Ken Murphy, Director General

Collegiality is also a crucial value of the solicitors’ profession in Ireland and of its representative body. It is both the energy that drives us and the glue that holds us together.

Collegiality is particularly manifest in the volunteer ethos through which many hundreds of solicitors contribute to the work of the Law Society through membership of its dozens of committees and, in addition, through teaching in the Law School and in our CPD programmes.

I take this opportunity to thank all of my solicitor colleagues who have collegially contributed so invaluably in the course of this Law Society year. I thank, also, my immensely hard-working, dedicated and expert colleagues on the staff of the Law Society who have facilitated the profession’s collegiate contribution in the interests both of the solicitors’ profession itself, and of the public whom we serve.

Brexit

Brexit – whether it is ‘done’ by 31 October 2019 or not – rumbles on. For the Law Society, Brexit was a major contributor to reaching a very significant milestone: the 20,000th name was recently added to the Roll of Solicitors. While the solicitors’ profession in Ireland is continuing its robust expansion through domestic qualifications, this landmark is due, in major part, to the huge numbers of England and Wales solicitors who are seeking, and gaining, admission to the Roll as part of their Brexit planning.

At the time of writing, almost 1,700 England and Wales solicitors had been admitted to the Roll in 2019 alone, bringing the total number admitted since 1 January 2016 to almost 3,800 – or, remarkably, more than 18% of the total names on the Roll. Although the current volume of applications is at a record level, it is important to understand that the vast majority of these solicitors are merely enrolling – not arriving to practice – in Ireland. Only a handful have actually moved to this jurisdiction to practice and be regulated here. The rest remain at their desks in London, Brussels and other international legal centres. Most, if not all, major international law firms have large numbers of solicitors who have undertaken this process.

Complaints handling and LLPs

A very significant event in the history of regulation of the legal procession in Ireland finally occurred with effect from 7 October 2019. The Law Society’s complaints function has legally transferred to the Legal Services Regulatory Authority, along with valued former colleagues whose combined years of experience will be of immense value to the authority in its new role. This is the most significant milestone to date in the commencement and implementation of the Legal Services Regulation Act. We wish the authority success with this important work.

The transfer of responsibility for complaints is just one of the long-planned changes in the regulation of the profession, in accordance with the 2015 act. Other changes relate to legal costs and the requirement for the new ‘Section 150 notice’.

The Society was delighted that, on 7 October 2019, chapter 3 of part 8 of the act, which permits the authority to issue regulations for limited liability partnerships (LLPs), was also commenced. Partners in LLPs will no longer be personally liable for the firm’s debts by virtue of being a partner (except in cases of fraud and dishonesty). As long ago as 2001, the Law Society first made a submission to Government, urging the introduction of LLPs as an option for partnerships of solicitors in Ireland. You can read more about these developments in the eBulletin sent to all members on 8 October 2019 by President Patrick Dorgan.

Education/Peart

Our Law School is undergoing an intense and exciting period of change, progress and innovation, which began in November 2018 with the launch of the Peart Commission Report. The report of a working group, chaired by Mr Justice Michael Peart of the Court of Appeal, contains 30 specific recommendations designed to improve access, innovation, and streamline solicitor education.

Constantly improving the training of solicitors to meet any and all challenges they will face in their careers is some of the most important work done by the Law Society. The Peart Commission Report is an excellent example of the Law Society’s pride in tradition, and preparedness for the future. You can read more about this under Higher Education.

Wellbeing

As President Patrick Dorgan mentions in his report, the welfare and wellbeing of our members has been front and centre of our policy concerns this year. Launching the new Professional Wellbeing Project followed research that proved what I think many of us knew instinctively – that a large proportion of solicitors work under very high levels of stress on a regular basis.

Based on research by Psychology at Work, and paired with the international research available, as well as direct feedback from our colleagues, we have a strong basis for developing a proactive programme to promote wellbeing to our members. I would encourage you to visit the new online Professional Wellbeing Hub and consider attending some of the regular seminars and CPD training opportunities on this important topic.

Support for smaller practices

One area where challenges remain is that of the smaller practice, where profitability, recruitment/retention, and succession planning are proving to be difficult. This is not something that is unique to our profession. In February 2019, the Law Society launched a report and strategic plan to help support and develop the more than 2,000 firms with five or fewer solicitors, which can be found in almost every town and village across Ireland. They are absolutely vital to the sustainability and success of their communities.

The report, authored by the consultants Crowe, is based on an extensive body of research involving a survey of hundreds of smaller firms from all over Ireland, focus groups, and in-depth case studies. It makes 11 strategic recommendations to assist sole practitioners and smaller practices to grow their businesses and achieve greater success for themselves, their staff and their local communities.

Sole practitioners and smaller firms have been receiving a regular, bespoke e-bulletin containing useful guidelines and tools on how to grow and market their firms, to explore cost-saving options, and network more effectively. The Society has developed a range of dedicated educational resources and has been proactively promoting the value of smaller firms in the media, particularly in local media outlets. You can find more detail on the range of resources available to smaller firms on the ever-growing online Small Practice Business Hub.

Moya Quinlan

Finally, this past spring saw the passing of Moya Quinlan, peacefully in her 99th year. She was the first woman president and a beloved icon of the Law Society and, indeed, the profession. She had served as a Council member for no less than 44 years. Shades of Ruth Bader Ginsberg. It is difficult to overemphasise the scale of Moya’s achievements. Her collegiality, above all else, was an unforgettable example to us all.

Ken Murphy,
Director General,
Law Society of Ireland

STRATEGY STATEMENT 2019-2023

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

The vision of the Law Society is to be “the trusted voice of a respected solicitors’ profession”.

 STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES 2019-2023

  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 fulfil our statutory regulation functions to ensure fair and effective regulation of solicitors in the interests of the profession and the public.
  5. We will fulfil 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 2018/2019

  1. STAND BY ME

    In 2018, the Law Society asked the independent consultancy firm Psychology at Work to carry out a study on indicative levels of stress and wellbeing within the solicitors’ profession. Disappointingly – but not surprisingly – the study found that members experience high levels of stress that impact negatively on their mental health and wellbeing. The Society’s new Professional Wellbeing Project is providing practical supports, education and guidance across three pillars: workplace culture, resilience and wellbeing, and emotional and psychological health. Visit the Wellbeing Hub at www.lawsociety.ie/wellbeinghub.

  2. SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL

    The Law Society’s Small Practice Support Project developed a range of supports and tools for sole practitioners and smaller legal practices throughout 2019. The programme focuses on delivering growth-planning tools and strategies for small practices. Guidelines and supports are available on the Small Practice Business Hub to help sole practitioners and smaller practices expand their networks, to collaborate where possible, and to avail of learning, promotion and communication tools. The project aims to ensure that smaller practices are fully equipped to develop and implement growth and marketing plans, and to devise networking strategies.

  3. LIMITED EDITION

    Limited liability partnerships (LLPs) are now available in Ireland, thanks to the commencement of parts of theLegal Services Regulation Act. LLPs offer partners in Irish law firms an opportunity to significantly reduce their personal exposure for debts, obligations, and liabilities incurred by the firm. The Law Society has vigorously campaigned for this reform for many years, aiming to put Irish lawyers on a level playing field with their counterparts in other jurisdictions. The Society is seeking to have the legislation extended to cover sole practitioners and principals.

  4. GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE

    The Law Society published a major report on divorce law reform in May 2019. Principally authored by Dr Geoffrey Shannon (deputy director of education and member of the Society’s Family and Child Law Committee), Divorce in Ireland: The Case for Reform is a unique piece of empirical research. The Society made 11 recommendations in the report, including supporting the since-passed proposal to remove from the Constitution the minimum living-apart period for spouses seeking a divorce, with a provision to allow the Oireachtas to reduce the minimum period to two years.

  5. SEND DOWN THE LADDER

    The Law Society is taking a major lead in assisting women to network more effectively, by relaunching its solicitor-specific ‘Law and Women’ mentoring programme. Originally unveiled in 2015 with 11 mentee/mentor pairs, the programme has increased to 25 pairs over the past 12 months. Earlier this year, the Society invited applications for both mentors and mentees on a countrywide basis for the 2019 programme and started the process of hiring a dedicated trainer.

  6. THIN BLUE LINE

    The Law Society broadly welcomed the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, after contributing extensively to the consultation process. The Society’s submission urged greater clarity and simplification around policing oversight, pointing out that there are currently four bodies charged with this work. The submission also pointed to an “alarmingly low” rate of 7-8% of police interviews being attended by solicitors, attributing the exceptionally low threshold for legal-aid eligibility as one of the underlying factors.

  7. STAND AND DELIVER

    Law Society President Patrick Dorgan appointed a task force in 2019 to promote gender equality, diversity and inclusion in the Society and the solicitors’ profession. The task force comprises 16 members from various minority, disability, LGBT+ and socio-economic backgrounds. It will make recommendations to encourage more female solicitors, and lawyers from diverse backgrounds, to seek leadership roles on the Law Society’s Council and committees. It will also create useful tools that solicitors can use to help achieve equality, diversity and inclusion within their firms.

  8. STAYING CONNECTED

    The Society’s Career Support Service introduced a new ‘Stay Connected‘ initiative to help solicitors stay in touch and maintain their legal skills while on a career break or temporarily not practising. Quarterly meetings feature a keynote speaker and networking opportunities, while a regular newsletter features articles of direct relevance to those not currently working in law. Members can also share information, collaborate, and encourage each other through a dedicated social media channel.

  9. LIVE WIRE

    In December 2018, the Gazette’s daily news service went live. Alongside the print and online monthly magazine, the service keeps readers informed on the legal news and analysis. Gazette.ie features daily news updates; breaking news; ‘long-read’ analysis articles; video news clips; one-on-one interviews with legislators, legal experts, practitioners, and conference keynote speakers; picture and video galleries; and dedicated social media channels. It later launched its narrated journalism service, which allows members and subscribers to listen to the magazine’s main features being read to them by professional voice artists.

  10. KEY OF THE DOOR

    The Calcutta Run (the profession’s annual legal fundraiser) came of age in 2018, celebrating its 21st anniversary by boosting its chosen charities’ coffers with funds of €275,000. This amount brought to €4.3 million the total that had been raised since the fundraiser’s inception up to that point. The 2019 event was expected to add a further €300,000 to that amount. Three charities benefit from the event – the Peter McVerry Trust, The HOPE Foundation, and SHARE in Cork – which all ensure that more homeless people are taken off the streets and out of temporary accommodation by providing them with homes and their own door keys.

FACTS ABOUT THE PROFESSION

 

YEAR IN REVIEW

SOCIETY BACKS DIVORCE LAW CHANGE IN MAJOR REPORT

The Law Society published a major report on divorce law reform in May. Principally authored by Dr Geoffrey Shannon (deputy director of education and member of the Society’s Family and Child Law Committee), Divorce in Ireland: The Case for Reform is a unique piece of empirical research. The Society made 11 recommendations in the report, including supporting the since-passed proposal to remove from the Constitution the minimum living-apart period for spouses seeking a divorce, with a provision to allow the Oireachtas to reduce the minimum period to two years.

The report was launched at the Law Society’s headquarters at Blackhall Place on 2 May 2019, and was attended by Minister Josepha Madigan, who delivered the keynote address.

At the launch, Dr Shannon said: “Divorce has now been in operation in Ireland for over two decades. While each case is unique, the current requirement to live apart for a period of four years prior to the institution of divorce proceedings may now be considered too long. It may result in a duplication of legal expenses and protracted proceedings, where parties are involved in both judicial separation and divorce proceedings over time.”

Shannon continued: “Undoubtedly, the rise in the number of divorced persons also reflects an increasing acceptance of divorce within Irish society as a remedy to an irretrievably broken-down marriage. The questions facing Ireland now relate to what type of legal framework and practice should underpin its law in this arena. What type of divorce law and practice do we want?”

Dr Shannon said: “The Law Society also believes that practical considerations are at the core of this matter. These are key to the proper functioning of divorce in practice and lie with the provision of adequate resources and facilities to both ensure that cases do not take several years to reach a conclusion, and that they do so in settings that befit the private nature of family law proceedings.”

RETURN OF THE NATIVE

The Law Society’s ‘Returner Programme’, for solicitors returning to work was launched early in 2019. The programme focuses on how those who have been out of the traditional workplace for a period, often because of family commitments, can make the transition back to work.

Participants who complete the course learn about:

  • How goal-setting and values can support their job searching,
  • How to identify their skills, achievements, knowledge and experience, and
  • The job-search process and the steps to returning to work.

PRIDE AND JOY

Blackhall Place flew the Pride flag for the first time on 27 June 2019. Director general Ken Murphy described it as “a small but significant piece of Law Society history”. The flag was flown for the duration of the Dublin Pride weekend.

President Patrick Dorgan and the director general represented the Law Society at the Dublin Pride Parade on 29 June as guests of OUTLaw, the LGBT+ network for individuals and supporters in the Irish legal sector. It was OUTLaw’s first time to march as a community group at the annual event.

I WANT TO BREAK FREE

The Diploma Centre’s massive open online course (MOOC) in 2019 focused on arts, entertainment and media law. MOOCs are free online courses, open to all, and are part of the Law Society’s public legal education initiatives.

Since they were first launched in 2014, the Diploma Centre’s MOOCs have attracted over 10,000 participants from over 60 countries. Courses feature online recorded and streamed presentations, interactive discussion forums, and quizzes.

SUPPORTING SMALLER PRACTICES

On foot of the recent Crowe report into sole practitioners and smaller legal practices, this year, the Law Society has developed a range of supports and tools to assist this sector.

The Society-commissioned Market Study of Sole Practitioners and Smaller Legal Practices in Ireland found that that the Society, and small firms themselves, need to focus more on developing practitioners’ skill-sets as business owners and operators.

Growth planning

To assist sole practitioners and smaller legal practices with the development of a growth strategy, the Law Society now provides sample strategies that can be customised by each practice. The sample strategies cover activities such as the definition of current service lines, market analysis, and options for both organic/internal growth (expanding within current operations) and inorganic/external growth (for example, via takeovers or mergers). The growth strategies also cover target setting, financial and human-resource planning, market activities, and monitoring mechanisms.

Marketing

Growing a business is also dependent on effective marketing and the ability to communicate with existing and potential clients to convince them of their need to use the services on offer in the practice.

To assist smaller practices in formally planning their approach to marketing, the Society provides a sample marketing and communications plan. This can also be provided as a guided workbook that will support small firms to customise the various elements for their own practice, including market trends analysis, market segment profiling, defining sources of service-line income, competitor analysis, developing marketing objectives, business-mix definition, and market planning by segment.

Collaboration

The study also recommended collaboration and network building within the profession itself, by smaller practices with external bodies, and by the Law Society with external bodies.

Learning supports

A range of learning opportunities, channels and supports are available to small practices to support them in creating a sustainable future.

A Small Practice Support Hub with a dedicated area for small-business resources has been established on lawsociety.ie/businesshub.

YEAR IN REVIEW (cont'd)

PPC HYBRID MAKES SOLICITOR ROUTE MORE ACCESSIBLE

The Law Society’s new PPC Hybrid course is specifically aimed at delivering a flexible route to the solicitor qualification without the traditional requirement for trainees to be onsite at Blackhall Place in Dublin for a full-time, continuous period.

Aiming to encourage greater access to legal education, the new course will facilitate access for a range of people, including, for example, mature and regional students, as well as those with parental or other family commitments.

The course is delivered through an optimised blended-learning format, which combines face-to-face tuition with online lectures. Online content will be released to ‘play on demand’.

During the PPC1 Hybrid, ten intensive weekend sessions will facilitate revision lectures, workshops, and small-group interactions. In total, the course will comprise approximately 230 contact hours. This compares with approximately 363 contact hours for the traditional PPC1 course.

For the PPC Hybrid, on-site sessions will be supplemented by best practice in online learning: “Trainees attending the PPC Hybrid are provided with the necessary resources to fully assist and support their learning experience,” says PPC course manager Rory O’Boyle. “The course is also structured so that trainees will be able to continue working during their legal education, with on-site tuition occurring primarily at once-monthly weekend sessions.

“Importantly, if the trainee’s employment is with a practising solicitor in the State, the trainee may accrue partial credit of up to five months for in-office training that occurs during the PPC1. This is in addition to any credit that might apply prior to the PPC1”.

In-office training

The PPC1 Hybrid begins in December 2019 and runs through to October 2020. The PPC2 Hybrid will run from August 2021 to December 2021.

The 24 months of in-office training begins after completing the PPC1 (that is, in December 2020). But trainees may be eligible to claim prior credit of up to five months for in-office training that occurs during the PPC1, together with four months of in-office training credit that occurs prior to the PPC1. This means that some trainees will qualify as early as March 2022.

Although the PPC Hybrid may be of specific interest to those who previously could not commit to being on-site at Blackhall Place for extended periods, O’Boyle says: “Regardless of their particular background, entrants to the Society’s solicitor training can now decide on which route suits them best in terms of time, cost, and the preferred method of study.

“We look forward to welcoming trainee solicitors of all educational and career backgrounds who previously might not have felt able to pursue the solicitor qualification,” he says.

RETURN OF THE GEDI

The Law Society launched a new task force in 2019 to promote gender equality, diversity and inclusion in the Society and the solicitors’ profession.

The GEDI Task Force comprises 16 members from various minority, disability, LGBT+ and socio-economic backgrounds. It will make recommendations to encourage more female solicitors, and solicitors from diverse backgrounds, to seek leadership roles on the Law Society’s Council and committees.

The task force will also create useful tools that solicitors can use to help achieve equality, diversity and inclusion within their firms.

The Irish solicitors’ profession has already been leading the way in gender equality. In 2014, we became the first legal profession in the world to have a female majority.

Since 2016, the Law Society has been running its Women in Leadership Programme to help more women reach partner and managing partner level in the solicitors’ profession.

Separately, the Law Society’s well-established Access Programme supports entry to legal education and careers for students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds.

LLPs AND LPs ARE SWEET MUSIC TO LEGAL PROFESSION

The Law Society has vigorously campaigned for limited liability partnerships (LLPs) for many years, aiming to put Irish lawyers on a level playing field with our counterparts in other jurisdictions.

Recent justice ministers have recognised the need for reform. LLPs offer partners in Irish law firms an opportunity to significantly reduce their personal exposure for debts, obligations, and liabilities incurred by the firm.

Partners will no longer be automatically personally liable for the firm’s debts purely because they are a partner (save for fraud and dishonesty). The ‘joint-and-several’ liability principle of partnership law is thus amended in the case of an LLP.

Separate provisions for legal partnerships (LPs) – partnerships between solicitors and barristers, or between barristers themselves – have been commenced simultaneously. An LP is also eligible to apply to become an LLP.

In order to become an LLP, existing firms will not need to reconstitute themselves. However, they will need to complete an application form and pay the application fee. They may be required to furnish copies of PCs and proof of professional indemnity insurance (PII) cover, for example. The firm’s name would remain the same, but with the addition of ‘LLP’.

Once registered as an LLP, the firm will be required to notify creditors and clients, alerting them to the change and advising what this means. The regulations prescribe the information that must be disclosed – principally the fact of the change to an LLP and its significance. Clients should be reassured that they will still be protected by virtue of mandatory PII and, in the case of an LLP that is a solicitor firm, rights to make a claim on the Law Society Compensation Fund.

LP regulations

The LP regulations will set out the requirements for firms wishing to admit barristers as partners. They must complete an application and pay a fee.

The LP will be required to implement appropriate standards to ensure that all legal practitioners in the LP conduct themselves professionally and ethically.

Gallery

View photos from the Calcutta Run, Annual Dinner and Parchment Ceremonies from the past year. 

HIGHER EDUCATION

The past year has seen a progressive reworking of education, from adjustments to the Preliminary Examination through to the introduction of a new Professional Doctorate in Law.

In keeping with the emphasis on inclusion, diversity, and student centred delivery, there will be
a positive engagement with those interested in pursuing the solicitor qualification by way of a proactive outreach programme

These changes began with the launch of the Peart Commission Report in November 2018.

The recommendations fall under three main themes: increasing access to the profession, innovation in education, and streamlining the established training model.

The report and information on all these new initiatives are available at www.lawsociety.ie.

New PPC Hybrid

Increasing access to legal education and providing a more flexible route to becoming a solicitor is a key factor in the new Professional Practice Course Hybrid, which will launch in December 2019.

The hybrid course is specifically aimed at delivering a flexible route to the solicitor qualification without the traditional requirement for trainees to be on-site at Blackhall Place in Dublin for a substantial, full-time, continuous period. The course will facilitate access for a range of people, for example, mature and regional students, and those with parental or other family commitments.

The course is delivered through an optimised blended-learning format, which combines face-to-face tuition with online lectures. Online content will be released on ‘play-on-demand’ mode. During the PPC1, there will be ten intensive weekend sessions where revision lectures, workshops, and small-group interactions will be facilitated.

The course is structured so that trainees will be able to continue working during the PPC Hybrid, with on-site tuition occurring primarily at monthly, weekend sessions. Importantly, if the trainee’s employment is with a practising solicitor in the State, the trainee may accrue partial credit of up to five months for in-office training occurring during the PPC1. This is in addition to any credit that might apply prior to the PPC1.

Preliminary Exam

To facilitate a greater range of applicants seeking to qualify as solicitors, the Education Committee has broadened the exemptions granted to those required to sit the Preliminary Examination by expanding the categories of qualifications the Society recognises. This will further assist in diversifying the profession and, together with the provision of the PPC Hybrid, will facilitate entry for those from all socio-economic backgrounds.

Access Programme

Funding for the Access Programme has been increased. This programme pays fees and maintenance for students from a background of socio-economic disadvantage. The funding contribution from the Law Society to the Law School enabled the Access Programme to assist a greater number of applicants this year, at both FE1 and PPC levels. Over 100 solicitors have qualified through this programme, and the Law Society is committed to increasing funding and making more places on it available to students.

In addition, a new scholarship will fund three law students from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds, from FE1 stage, through the Professional Practice Course and up to application to join the Roll of Solicitors. Recipients will be identified on the basis of economic need, with one scholarship to be awarded each year over a period of three years.

FE1s

Accelerated access to taking the FE1s will be accorded to any candidate who has completed the first or any subsequent year of a course leading to a qualification at Level 7 or higher on the Irish National Framework of Qualifications, or a degree awarded by a university in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales. The candidate can sit and provisionally pass any one or more of the eight subject examinations of the FE1, with provisional passes becoming absolute passes once the recognised degree is obtained.

Third-level students will be able to overlap their degree exams with the FE1 exam, and take subjects in the FE1 immediately after studying that subject in university or third-level institution.

This will not only facilitate students in taking the FE1 in a more timely and effective manner; it also potentially shortens the time it takes to progress to the Professional Practice Course.

‘Shrink Me’

The Society’s Law School continues the development of psychology as a third pillar of professional education. Alongside core legal subjects and skills, it is an integral part of the Professional Practice Course. ‘Shrink Me: Psychology of a Lawyer’ is delivered by a mix of experts from the fields of psychology, business, law, the arts, and executive coaching. It also offers a platform for ‘other voices’ from within and beyond the legal profession to address trainees, and to share experiences and personal stories.

The programme has extended beyond the lecture theatre, occupying less predictable spaces and placing an emphasis on creativity as a means of being an agile and personally fulfilled solicitor.

The programme has proven so popular that more than 52% of trainee solicitors have gone on to engage in a series of free, time-concentrated therapy sessions during their time on campus. A team of eight psychotherapists now work from a suite of counselling rooms in the Law School.

Professional Doctorate in Law

We are delighted to join forces with Northumbria Law School in offering a Professional Doctorate in Law, specifically aimed at qualified solicitors.

The doctorate is a part-time programme designed to facilitate those in full-time employment. The programme provides a structured and supportive learning experience that enhances a solicitor’s theoretical understanding of their profession, and assists in the development of practice through critical insight and evaluation.

Fused PPC

In direct response to proposal 21 of the Peart Report, the current two-part ‘sandwich course’, known as PPC1 and PPC2, will be combined into a more streamlined single course. This new fused course will be offered in September 2021, after an extensive consultation on the course syllabus and advanced electives.

Inclusion

Finally, in keeping with the emphasis on inclusion, diversity, and student-centred delivery, there will be a positive engagement with those interested in pursuing the solicitor qualification by way of a proactive outreach programme.

Those involved in outreach will also act as a liaison to law firms, law schools, and all those involved in broader legal education.

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.

40%

of practising certificate holders renewed their
2019 PC online

Year ending 8 November 2019

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

PRESIDENT: Patrick Dorgan

SENIOR VICE-PRESIDENT: Michele O’Boyle

JUNIOR VICE-PRESIDENT: Daniel O’Connor

COUNCIL MEMBERS: James Cahill, Christopher Callan, Justine Carty, Brendan Cunningham, Maura Derivan, Paul Egan, Stuart Gilhooly, Richard Grogan, Richard Hammond, Eamon Harrington, Aine Hynes, Paul Keane, Liam A Kennedy, Morette Kinsella, Martin Lawlor, Rosemarie Loftus, Barry MacCarthy, Flor McCarthy, Sonia McEntee, James A Murphy, Michelle Ní Longáin, Valerie Peart, Carol Plunkett, Thomas Reilly, Imelda Reynolds, Catherine Tarrant, Brendan J Twomey, Keith Walsh

PAST-PRESIDENTS: Kevin O’Higgins, Simon Murphy, Michael Quinlan

PROVINCIAL DELEGATES: Leinster: Martin Crotty; Munster: Shane McCarthy; Ulster: Garry Clarke; Connaught: David Higgins

DUBLIN SOLICITORS' BAR ASSOCIATION REPRESENTATIVES: Diego Gallagher, Joe O’Malley, Robert Ryan

SOUTHERN LAW ASSOCIATION REPRESENTATIVES: Robert Baker, Joan Byrne, Sean Durcan, Siún Hurley, Julia Rea

LAW SOCIETY OF NORTHERN IRELAND REPRESENTATIVES: Eileen Ewing, John Guerin, Ian Huddleston, Suzanne Rice, Rowan White

 

Organisational Structure

The Law Society is led on a day-to-day basis by the director general, Ken Murphy, who leads a team of six departmental heads as part of his 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.

Law Society Organisation Chart

Staff List 2018/2019

View a list of Law Society staff.

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

45

registered lobbying activities from
September 2018 to May 2019

MARY KEANE, DEPUTY DIRECTOR GENERAL

The Society’s Department of Policy and Public Affairs (PPA) plays a critical role in building relevant and effective relationships with those who have an impact on the profession and the practice of law.

Understanding the interests of our stakeholders, as well as communicating our own interests and positions, is vital in ensuring a sustainable sector, as well as a strong voice in policy debates. Ministers, elected representatives, and Government departments figure as our key stakeholders in law reform and policy formulation. In addition, bodies such as the Revenue Commissioners, Companies Registration Office, Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission, and the Legal Aid Board are vital audiences and partners on day-to-day issues that affect both practitioners and the wider public.

Research, monitoring, and analysing developments are some of the core functions undertaken by the department, in conjunction with the valuable expertise provided by our policy committees. The department is also a key support to the office of the director general, president, coordination committee and the Council of the Society.

The PPA department and policy committees interact regularly with officials and departments relevant to their practice area. A total of 17 formal submissions were provided to Government to the year ending July 2019, ranging from Legal Services Regulatory Authority issues to the reporting of court proceedings. The Law Reform Commission, the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, and the Central Bank also figured as recipients of Law Society proposals, including our Budget 2020 submission.

In all, the Lobbying Register indicates 45 registered lobbying activities – communications, meetings and other interactions – in the reporting period September 2018 to May 2019. The Society also appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committees on Justice and Equality, and on European Affairs, on matters pertaining to family law reform and EU interaction, respectively.

Brexit

The changing landscape and uncertainty brought about by Brexit has seen the Society redouble its activity and engagement with our European colleagues.

Understanding the responses of neighbouring bars and law societies to common challenges, for example, in the areas of technology, anti-money-laundering and other global issues equips us to anticipate future changes and to provide a strategic and value-added service for our members.

We continue to monitor Brexit-related developments closely, in particular the impact on practice rights and the recognition of qualifications. Separately, the Society, along with the Bar of Ireland and in partnership with the Department of Justice and Equality and the IDA, is advancing proposals to develop Ireland as a preferred centre for international dispute resolution, based on our common law system and the internationally recognised quality of our legal professionals. Resources and tools to assist members to navigate the Brexit-challenge are available at www.lawsociety.ie/brexit.

In November 2018, the PPA department launched a suite of new AML resources for solicitors, including comprehensive guidance, infographics and sample adaptable forms, in preparation for the commencement of additional statutory obligations for all designated bodies, including solicitors. Over the seven-month period following the launch, the Society’s AML webpage experienced a 70% increase in unique page views, and calls to the AML helpline increased by 46%, 71% of which related to new and complex enquiries.

The department also made five submissions on AML related matters to the Departments of Finance and Justice and, through the CCBE, we contributed to the response at EU level to the updated FATF Guidance for Legal Professionals on the Risk-based Approach to AML and to the consultation by the European Commission on its supranational risk assessment.

REPRESENTATION AND MEMBER SERVICES DEPARTMENT

5,150

queries handled by the Library for the year ended 
30 June 2019

TERI KELLY, DIRECTOR OF REPRESENTATION AND MEMBER SERVICES

Ensuring that we are supporting our members, when and where they need it, is core to our member services strategy.

Over 90% of all solicitor firms are run by a sole practitioner or have five or fewer solicitors. Supporting these members in achieving greater success and sustainability for their businesses has been a core focus for the Law Society over the past six months, and will continue to be so. The Small Practice Support Project provides guidance, tools, support and education opportunities for small-firm practitioners. Information can be found on the newly launched Small Practice Business Hub at lawsociety.ie.

Supporting the professional wellbeing of our members is also an increasing focus of our member services’ strategy. It is a global phenomenon that lawyers experience higher levels of stress than most other professionals. Intensive workloads, pressing deadlines, and providing assistance to clients in often difficult circumstances all contribute to what can, at times, be a stressful career. The Professional Wellbeing Support Project, which was launched in October, will seek to support our members with these issues. More information can be found on the Professional Wellbeing Hub on lawsociety.ie.

‘Talk to your solicitor’. ‘Your solicitor is your trusted advisor’. ‘The Law Society is the trusted voice of a respected solicitors’ profession’. These are the messages that are at the core of every public communication the Law Society makes. In the national and local media, in our radio ads, on our website, on social media and with any of the other tools we have to reach the public, we work to underscore the value and strengths of the solicitors’ profession.

This year, we continued to proactively promote and, where necessary, defend the solicitors’ profession in the media. Stories have included the defence of personal injury victims’ rights, the Peart Commission Report, the Law Society’s Divorce in Ireland Report, the value of small legal practices, English and Welsh solicitors joining the Irish Roll in preparation for Brexit, and the introduction of pre-contract investigation of title. 

Our online communications continue to increase in importance to reach the profession and the public. We asked our members for feedback on lawsociety.ie through a survey, and you told us you appreciate the quality content on the site, but sometimes find it difficult to navigate. Work has begun on a complete redesign of lawsociety.ie and this will include a new search function and revamped menu structure.

The Law Society has continued to build on the successful launch of Gazette.ie last year, culminating in its being named ‘Digital Product of the Year’ at the Irish Magazine Awards (IMA). We also launched a new weekly Gazette Digest e-zine, which is sent to subscribers every Friday and showcases the most important legal news that week. The Gazette magazine also continues to lead from the front and was awarded ‘IMA Business Magazine of the Year’, while Gazette journalist Mary Hallissey was named ‘Journalist of the Year’.

LawWatch, the library’s weekly current awareness newsletter, provided abstracts of over 750 court judgments and comprehensive alerts on new acts, statutory instruments, and journal articles. We continued to support the education research needs of the Law School’s student body on the PPC, diploma and LLM courses, including a new initiative offering one-to-one distance legal-research support sessions.

A number of career support initiatives have been expanded in the last 12 months: the Returners Programme assists solicitors who are seeking to return to work after time away looking after family responsibilities, and the 55+ Options initiative provides older solicitors with guidance on succession, retirement planning, and laterlife working options.

Statistics

For the year ended 30 June 2019, the Society’s site received 5.7 million views (an 18% increase on last year) by over 750,000 visitors. Income from legalvacancies.ie – our website for solicitor job advertising – continues to increase significantly and is expected to rise to above €360,000 in 2019.

The Law Society Library dealt with 5,150 queries and lent 4,520 books in the 12 months ending 30 June 2019. In all, 78% of enquiries came from firms in the one-to-five solicitor range, firms with two-to-five solicitors (54%), and sole practitioners (24%).

EDUCATION DEPARTMENT

2,000

global participants in free arts, media and entertainment law MOOC 

TP KENNEDY,  DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION

 The year under review has been a year of change for solicitor education, and planning for further change. Many of the recommendations in the Peart Commission Report have been implemented. Regulations were drafted to give effect to some of the more fundamental changes. The regulations were adopted by the Council in July and are currently with the Minister for Justice for his approval.

Following their adoption, a further process of consultation about the syllabus for the new PPC and the advanced electives will begin. The Law Society has also been engaging with the Legal Services Regulatory Authority on its ongoing review of legal education, and we expect its recommendations to be issued before the end of this year.

One of the immediate changes has been the introduction of a new model of the Professional Practice Course – ‘PPC Hybrid’. This will be a combination of distance learning, with monthly on-site weekend sessions and two immersive week-long sessions in the Education Centre. It will facilitate trainees who wish to continue to work during the course, those from outside Dublin, or those unable to attend a course full-time. The first such course will start in December, and there has been much interest in it.

Last year (2018) was the second highest year on record for admissions to the Roll of Solicitors, with 1,229 admissions. The main driver for this was admissions from Britain – a total of 731 solicitors from England and Wales, and Northern Ireland, were admitted. The tidal wave of Brexit applications reached its peak in early 2019 and, as of 6 September 2019, a further 1,560 had been admitted. We anticipate that the final admissions figure for 2019 will exceed 2,000 new solicitors – 2016 was the first year that admissions exceeded 1,000, and (thanks to Brexit) it has only taken three years to exceed 2,000.

In September 2019, a total of 456 trainees started the PPC1 – the largest course in ten years. The use of technology in the Law School was recognised by the status of an ‘Apple Distinguished School’ award, which was presented to the Law Society earlier this year. We are the only professional educator in the EU to have received this accolade.

Our Diploma Centre goes from strength to strength. In all, 1,050 attendees participated in over 30 diploma and certificate courses during the last year. A free MOOC (massive open online course) was provided on arts media and entertainment law, with 2,000 participants from around the world. In May 2019, a new professional doctoral programme for solicitors was launched. Our Diploma in Aviation Leasing and Finance was awarded the Best Law Postgraduate Course of the Year at the GradIreland Higher Education Awards.

Large numbers have been attending Law Society Professional Training’s CPD courses. In addition, regional cluster conferences are being held all over Ireland in association with local bar associations. There has also been a series of annual specialist conferences in collaboration with Law Society committees.

The team was selected by a prestigious global NGO to design and deliver skills training for international bar leaders through a two-year blended-learning programme that will be delivered in a number of countries around the world.

REGULATION DEPARTMENT

349

new firms and 104 closed

JOHN ELLIOT, REGISTRAR OF SOLICITORS AND DIRECTOR OF REGULATION

The Regulation Department continues to engage with the Legal Services Regulatory Authority and has provided submissions on a draft code of practice for practising barristers and draft regulations for limited liability partnerships and legal partnerships, among others, which are available to view on the Society’s website at www.lawsociety.ie/LSRA.

The authority’s published report, under section 6 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015, makes a number of recommendations for changes to the Solicitors Acts 1954-2015, which includes many recommendations from the Society’s submission to the authority in July 2018.

The authority is scheduled to start receiving applications for legal partnerships and limited liability partnerships in the final quarter of 2019 and to begin its complaints functions under part 6 of the Legal Services Regulation Act 2015 in October 2019. The Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal, which will receive applications against solicitors and barristers, will commence thereafter. The Society’s Complaints Section will continue in operation in order to finish off any complaints received before the changeover. The staff working for the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal will continue the work of that tribunal and, in due course, will assume functions in relation to the new Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Tribunal. Both tribunals will operate from the existing premises in Bow Street.

We continue to prepare for the impact of Brexit. A total of 797 Irish practising certificates are now held by British solicitors, and 15 British law firms have established a branch office in Ireland since the Brexit referendum.

The volume of complaints about alleged breaches of solicitors’ undertakings over the last two years has fallen near to the historical average for the pre-recession period from 2000 to 2007.

There are now 11,618 practising certificate holders in this jurisdiction, of which 51% are female and 49% male. From July 2018 to June 2019, a total of 349 new firms of solicitors opened and 104 closed. During that period, six solicitors were struck off the Roll of Solicitors and two solicitors were suspended.

We have engaged in extensive work in connection with anti-money-laundering, cybersecurity, and advertising regulations, which is covered in the Regulation of Practice Committee report.

The Regulation Department’s anti-money-laundering (AML) working group has increased the focus on ensuring practitioners’ compliance with AML legislation, heightening awareness through the investigation process, talks at CPD seminars, and a published reminder (Gazette, November 2018, p57).

During the year, two long-serving investigating accountants retired and three new accountants were appointed – two of them now based in Cork.

We regularly give talks on regulatory requirements at cluster events and bar association seminars.

From July 2018 to June 2019, the Society received ten queries from the Office of the Ombudsman relating to complaints about solicitors not upheld, and refusal of grants from the compensation fund. The Society assists the ombudsman by providing copy files and explanations about the Society’s procedures.

The department continues to progress its part of the System 360 project, which will fundamentally improve the information technology used to achieve a more user-friendly electronic environment for our members.

FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION DEPARTMENT

12,000

lettings of Four Courts consultation rooms

CILLIAN MACDOMHNAILL, DIRECTOR OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION

The Finance and Administration Department regards itself as the ‘oil in the system’, supporting the Society’s core functions of representation, education and regulation, which results in services and support to members, students and the public.

At the heart of the department’s work is financial management. While this involves taking in money and spending it, it also means that there is an obligation to ensure prudent financial management, ensuring value for all money spent and having appropriate financial processes and controls 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.

In 2018, the Society’s income was €27.2m, an increase of 7%. Expenditure was €27.5m, an increase of 9%. In all, 66% of expenditure was on representation and regulation, with the balance of 34% being spent on education activities. The ‘finance’ function is responsible for oversight of the ongoing financial elements of the rundown of the SMDF, which is going very much according to plan. It is also responsible for the financial elements of the costs of the Legal Services Regulatory Authority to practitioners, and it works to minimise the impact of this on the practising certificate fee.

The department also manages two important member schemes: the Finance Scheme for tax, pensions, PII and PC fees, which provided loans of over €3.5m to 140 firms for 2018/19, and the Group Life Scheme, which provided a benefit of €47,500 to the families of nine solicitors over the past year.

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 developed in 2014. A number of major building projects were finished in the last 12 months or are ongoing, including essential works driven by fire prevention, health-and-safety, and disability-access needs, and the maintenance of the fabric of Blackhall Place, thus ensuring that the buildings can operate effectively for modern use.

Current projects include fire-escape and general fire precaution upgrades, rewiring of the historic building, replacement of boilers, decoration, and acoustics work in the Presidents’ Hall, as well as the continued upgrading of public areas within Blackhall Place. New sports facilities have also been developed on the Benburb Street site.

The facilities section also oversees the catering, bar and the B&B facilities through the Law Club of Ireland. The bar and catering operation achieved a break-even position for the first time since the recession, and over 1,800 bed nights were provided by the B&B service. The Four Courts consultation rooms had over 12,000 lettings.

We also opened Blackhall Place to the public on Heritage Week, Culture Night, Open House, and for the Smithfield/ Stoneybatter Festival. The premises and grounds were made available to numerous local charities and schools throughout the year.

The information technology section’s main focus for the past 12 months has been the implementation of ‘System 360’ – a very significant investment in a member management system, which was approved at the AGM in 2015, with a budget of €3.5m. We are now in phase 2 (education) of the project, with phase 1 (which covers primarily regulation and practising certificates) having bedded in very successfully. This Society-wide project will ensure that the Society’s IT systems adequately support its various roles into the future, including integrating membership and education systems. Over 40% of PC holders renewed their PCs online for 2019 using the new system. During the last 12 months, two other major IT projects were undertaken – the roll-out of a new IP telephone system, and a new file and email management system called Commvault.

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 and an education/awareness programme for all staff.

The department also spearheaded the Society’s involvement in the Calcutta Run 2019. The final fundraising figure looks set to reach €290,000 and will be shared equally between the Peter McVerry Trust and the HOPE Foundation.

HUMAN RESOURCES DEPARTMENT

Our ongoing policy review is central to building a positive, fair and open working environment.

BARBARA CARROLL, DIRECTOR OF HUMAN RESOURCES

The Law Society’s Human Resources Department is committed to developing and implementing strategic approaches to human resources that contribute to the effective running of the organisation.

This has been an exciting year for the department, which has seen lots of change. The human resources’ function helps the Law Society to maintain and promote a supportive and positive culture among the staff. This underpins the professional services that the Society provides to its members.

In the year under review, we continued to invest in learning and development. We provided programmes in executive development, coaching skills for managers, e-learning, technical communications, and in specific areas of legal practice, among many others.

In August 2019, staff from the Complaints and Client Relations Section in the Regulation Department and all the staff of the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal transferred their employment to the new Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) after long and loyal service to the Society and its members. It was a long road for all of the staff involved, but a satisfactory outcome was achieved. The level of expertise and experience the team will bring to the LSRA will be invaluable. We wish them well in their new roles – an exciting road lies ahead.

In the Society, we are committed to embracing new and more efficient ways of working. The department had a busy and productive year reviewing internal processes and automating old ways of working. We are currently implementing a new HR system that will modernise self-service features and provide more effective and informative supports for our employees. A pilot for this new system was launched in the autumn, and it will roll out into the New Year.

We have invested in new and better ways to promote more effective internal communication and have launched new initiatives, including the weekly Blackhall Bulletin, which keeps staff up-to-date on Society-wide activities.

In April this year, we launched an introduction to the Vitality Wellness Programme to support our strategy to promote a healthy and supportive work environment. We partnered with Zevo Health, which conducted internal research on staff members through surveys and focus groups during the summer period. This will provide the springboard for the launch of the 2019/20 Vitality Wellness Plan before year-end.

Our progressive and structured recruitment strategy assists the Society in attracting a qualified and diverse workforce, and we have been proud to welcome new staff members this year.

A key function of the department is to remain current and informed on external and internal factors that might have an impact on human resources’ policies. Our ongoing policy review is central to building a positive, fair and open working environment.

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 chairman 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 for that 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

Paul Egan, Chair

The Complaints and Client Relations Committee considers complaints about the adequacy of professional service, the level of fees, and the professional conduct of solicitors. It operates in three separate divisions, each consisting of three solicitor members and four lay members. The committee met in plenary session or in divisions 20 times during the year, and dealt with 149 new matters.

In the year under review, 1,274 complaints were made, 306 of which were deemed to be inadmissible. The number of admissible complaints (968) increased very slightly over the preceding year, as did complaints from financial institutions about undertakings, reversing the downward trend in undertakings complaints over the past two years. In all, 583 of the 968 admissible complaints were completed by year end, 86% of which were closed in less than six months. A total of eight complaints were referred to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal.

The investigation of complaints is subject to review by the Independent Adjudicator of the Law Society and by the Office of the Ombudsman.

The Legal Services Regulatory Authority has taken over the committee’s role in handling complaints made on and after 7 October 2019. The Law Society’s complaints section will continue to be responsible for complaints made prior to that date, so the committee will remain in existence, albeit with a reducing workload, until the last of those complaints have been determined.

Having served on the committee for eight years, it is now time to move on, and I wish my successor well. I welcome this opportunity to recognise the diligence and commitment of my fellow committee members and the Law Society’s personnel. I thank them for the time, care and attention that they devote to the committee’s work.

Once again, the fall is attributable to the fall in complaints about solicitors’ undertakings.

COORDINATION COMMITTEE

Patrick Dorgan, Chair

The Coordination Committee operates as a link between the Society’s committees and the Council, with an oversight role for the 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 Society’s standing committees to consider ongoing issues, and to plan for the year ahead.

The committee also oversees implementation of the eConveyancing, Small Practice Support, and Professional Wellness Projects, as well as the Brexit Legal Services Initiative.

A further function of the 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 issues, including:

  • The Society’s strategy statement 2019-2023,
  • A draft code of practice for legal professionals under the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015,
  • Approval of partnership precedents, including partnership agreements, overhead-sharing agreements, deeds of dissolution and practice transfer agreements, and
  • The nomination of representatives to a number of external bodies.

EDUCATION COMMITTEE

Carol Plunkett, Chair

Our priority this year has been to implement the proposals of the Peart Commission Report to streamline and modernise the process of qualification as a solicitor. Following consultation with firms, the committee drafted new regulations that provide for the introduction of the new Professional Practice Course (PPC). The regulations have been approved by Council and now await the approval of the Minister for Justice and Equality.

In addition, we also:

  • Continued our ongoing engagement with the LSRA,
  • Launched a new PPC Hybrid course, which will be structured to allow those attending the course to remain in employment without the requirement to attend the Law Society on a full-time basis,
  • Established a chair in intellectual property law, sponsored by the Irish Music Rights Organisation,
  • Introduced a professional doctorate in law (DLaw) in collaboration with Northumbria University, and
  • Undertook a project to redevelop the lecture theatre by upgrading outdated furniture and fittings and replacing defunct mechanical and electrical systems to enable the successful delivery of modern technology based courses.

Finally, we were delighted that the Diploma in Aviation Leasing and Finance was awarded ‘Postgraduate Course of the Year in Law’ at the GradIreland Higher Education Awards.

My thanks go to my vice-chair Martin Lawlor, to all the members of the committee, and the consultants for contributing their views on the myriad issues that come before us, and for their dedication towards achieving the best possible outcome, to Paula Sheedy for her unfailing support as our secretary, and to the director of education TP Kennedy, deputy director of education Dr Geoffrey Shannon, the CPD unit, and all the staff of the Law School for giving so generously of their time and expertise.

FINANCE COMMITTEE

Christopher Callan, Chair

In anticipation of the imposition of a Legal Services Regulatory Authority (LSRA) levy for the first time, and the completion of the Solicitors Mutual Defence Fund (SMDF) levy in 2019, activities in 2018 were budgeted for a surplus of only 1% of income on both the general activities and Law School sides. Both performed slightly better than this, achieving a 2% surplus on income before tax.

The after-tax surplus from operations was €225k (2017: €529k). This equates to 1% of operational income after tax. The before-tax general activity surplus, at €299k, was better than budget, by €130k. Education activities made a surplus of €292k against a budgeted surplus of €134k. Reserves, including amounts allocated to the Capital Expenditure, Litigation and LSRA Levy Funds, after provision of €1.1m for the LSRA levy for 2018, increased by €273k (2017: €1.7m). In the audited financial statements, there are a number of revaluations and exceptional items that must be included, albeit that they are outside normal operations. The primary one is the inclusion of income of €2m, raised through the practising certificate fee to fund the remaining deferred cost of the sale of the SMDF. The second major adjustment is providing for an additional €7.75m based on a revaluation of the Benburb Street site from €10m to €17.75m.

In accordance with current 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 created significant variances in the accounts over the last four years. In 2015, there was a positive readjustment of €2.5m in the pension liability but, in 2016, there was a negative adjustment of €4.8m. In 2017, there was a positive adjustment of €1.5m, and in 2018 there was another positive adjustment of €188k. The Finance Committee is not concerned about these variances, as the variables that impact on these valuations are different to those used in our actuarial valuations. Measured through actuarial valuations conducted by Mercer, our pension scheme is in good health.

Overall, these adjustments result in showing the Law Society, which had an after-tax operational surplus of €278k, as having an overall accounting surplus of €9.95m.

To further complicate matters, the operational surpluses for the Law Society are incorporated in ‘Group’ accounts, which include all Law Society subsidiaries. Overall, the Law Society’s group made a surplus of €9.96m (2017: €6.6m) after tax and exceptional items. The group accounts give a full picture of the financial performance and financial position of all Law Society operations, but they can distort the view of the performance of the different elements of our operation, given that interentity trading must be eliminated. The ‘overall results’ table shows the management account results, which are the actual operating outcomes of the various elements of the Law Society’s operations.

FINANCE COMMITTEE (Cont'd 2 of 4)

‘Other expenditure’ noted in the accounts are the costs associated with our subsidiaries, which were €815k (2017: €542k). 

Our income

Total income for the year was €27.2m, which was €1.4m or 6% ahead of 2017.

Practising certificate, membership, and admission fees were €15.2m (2017: €14.7m), an increase of 4%, which mirrors the increase in the number of practising certificates, as the practising certificate fee for 2018 remained at the 2017 level. Educational income, at €10.6m, increased by 11% from €9.6m, and income from other sources, such as advertising, publications, and Four Courts, at €1.2m, was on a par with 2017.

In 2018, there were 10,863 (2017: 10,470) practising certificate holders, an increase of 393 (+4%) on 2017. There was no significant increase in ‘Brexit’ practising certificate holders. The additional practising certificates accounted for €449k of the income increase. Membership numbers, at 11,941 (2017: 11,454), increased by 487. Membership numbers include 172 solicitors who avail of free membership on the basis of being over 50 years admitted or being unemployed. There were 1,231 admissions to the Roll in 2018 (2017: 1,050), being the second highest number of admissions ever, just behind the 2016 record of 1,406. There were 733 ‘Brexit’ admissions in 2018. Practising certificate fee income totalling €1.15m (2017: €1.15m) was allocated to the Capital Expenditure Fund (€150k), the Litigation Fund (€302k), and the LSRA Levy Fund (€696k). However, €1.1m was also set aside to provide for a likely 2018 LSRA levy, leaving a net increase in the funds of €48k.

Education activities’ income was €10.6m (2017: €9.6m). While income levels increased for all operations, the bulk of the increase came from increased revenue from our diplomas and professional training (LSPT) areas. Professional Practice Courses, exams, etc, accounted for €6.9m, and LSPT seminars, diploma courses and grants accounted for €3.6m. 

There were 448 PPC1 students in September 2018 (2017: 412). FE1 sittings at 2,376 (2017: 2,238), while growing at about 6%, are still very far off their high of 3,328 in 2007. Diploma course income at €2.5m was €522k ahead of 2017. LSPT, with its Skillnet and Finuas programmes, had overall income, including grants, of €1.1m (2017: €1.2m).

Our expenditure

Overall expenditure was €27.5m, which was an increase of 9% or €2.3m on 2017. On the general activities side, an increase of €1.0m was mainly accounted for by the €1.1m provision for LSRA costs. There was a very significant drop in regulatory legal fees, which offset increases in other areas.

Education activities’ operational charges increased by €1.0m (+11%), in line with increased activity and student numbers.

 

FINANCE COMMITTEE (Cont'd 3 of 4)

Our balance sheet

The position shown by our balance sheet is significantly distorted by the FRS102 accounting standard requirements. This required three significant adjustments. The first is a positive one, which increased the valuation of the Benburb Street site from €10m to €17.75m. The second is a provision for the deferred costs of €3.2m on the sale of the SMDF, which is offset by €3m in the SMDF Levy Fund, which is earmarked to pay down the deferred cost of the SMDF sale over the next few years.

The third adjustment is a decrease in the deficit on the staff pension scheme (closed to new entrants since 2009) from €5.7m to €5.5m. While this deficit represents 15% of the value of the liabilities, it is 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 these three adjustments, our net asset position now stands at €40.5m (2017: €30.5m). However, if you factor out the SMDF and pension adjustments, our reserves are €46.3m.

Of our reserves, €33.6m are accounted for by fixed assets. The reserves also include two contingency funds for capital expenditure (€2.2m) and litigation (€1.0m).

Both funds are designed to meet costs in these areas as they arise. Additionally, there is a balance of €300k in the LSRA Levy Fund, which is the balance of funds raised over the last two years and the provision of €1.1m for the 2018 levy.

The sale of the SMDF liability in October 2016 resulted in a provision for deferred costs of €5m. This, combined with previous contributions of €8m, plus various transaction costs and interest, resulted in the estimated overall cost to members of the SMDF financial support being €13.5m approximately. Current indications are that the actual cost may be less than this.

Our 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 €110k) made an operational surplus of €58k (2017: surplus €10k). Benburb Street Property Company Limited, which owns and manages the Benburb Street site, made an operational loss of €345k (2017: loss €48k) before allowing for the revaluation of the site. The 2018 accounts make a provision of €260k for a vacant site levy imposed by Dublin City Council. This has been successfully appealed to An Bord Pleanála, and this provision will be reversed in 2019.

FINANCE COMMITTEE (Cont'd 4 of 4)

2019

 Practising certificate numbers are looking very strong for 2019 and will increase by 900 (8%) as against 4% in 2018. The primary driver is an additional 500 ‘Brexit’ PCs. There have been 1,568 Brexit admissions to date this year. The PPC student intake in September at 458 is up 2% on 2018. Members may have noted that, while the overall PC fee for 2019 increased by only €100 (including an SBA contribution increase of €50), there was a significant restructuring across the main elements of the fee. The primary change was a levy, for the first time, of the cost of the operation of the LSRA, equating to €287. The Law Society continues to work with the LSRA to ensure that costs are minimised, insofar as is possible.

This increase was significantly offset by a substantial reduction in the SMDF fund levy by €165. It now looks like the SMDF run-down will cost €13.5m rather than the estimated €16m, which has resulted in a significant reduction in the levy. This will be the last year of this levy (two years early). The run-down is proceeding according to plan, and it may even yield a small dividend to the Society in 2022. To date, both the Law Society and Education activities are performing to budget.

 'System 360' (the membership management system) is now in Phase 2 (Education), with Phase 1 (Membership and Regulation) well bedded down at this stage, with over 40% of PC holders renewing their 2019 PC online. Phase 2 will be completed in early 2020, with the objective of completing the whole project by the end of 2020.

The committee has been successful in its efforts to remove the Benburb Street site from the register of vacant sites. There will be, therefore, no further levies demanded, which (at 7% of the site value) would have been quite substantial. This was facilitated by investment in the installation of sports facilities and landscaping to the benefit of the local community, and stylish hoarding on the site streetscape.

A number of premises projects are being undertaken throughout 2019, which are driven by the Society’s business needs, health and safety, conservation, and disability access requirements. I am confident that all of these will add significantly to members’ and students’ enjoyment of Blackhall Place.

The Finance Committee continues to work to ensure that members get value for money for all operational and capital expenditure, and this has been reinforced by the establishment of an internal audit function. The committee is also conscious that, at the same time, it must ensure that the Society is sufficiently resourced to service members in an effective manner into the future, and that the Law Society remains an effective and efficient professional body.

Full audited financial statements for 2018 are included in this report.

MONEY-LAUNDERING
REPORTING COMMITTEE

Martin Lawlor, Chair

The committee met regularly throughout the year in order to fulfil the Law Society’s obligations with regard to mandatory statutory reporting requirements relating to the offences of money-laundering, terrorist financing, and relevant offences by members of the profession and others.

The Society must report any suspicions that moneylaundering 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. These reports are made pursuant to the provisions of section 63 of the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Acts 2010- 2018, via ‘goAML‘ – the online reporting tool specifically designed by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, and used by the State’s Financial Intelligence Unit.

In the year under review, the committee directed that two such reports be made to the relevant authorities.

The Society is also required, pursuant to the provisions of section 19 of the Criminal Justice Act 2011, to report to the gardaí, 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 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 nine such reports be made.

The committee also issued a practice note (November 2018 Gazette, p58) that reminded practitioners of the committee’s remit.

I wish to thank my fellow committee members for their contributions at meetings during the year. I also express my thanks to committee secretary Tina Beattie and her colleagues in the Regulation Department for their assistance.

PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY
INSURANCE COMMITTEE

Richard Hammond, Chair

The function of Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) Committee is to deal with all matters pertaining to the regulation of solicitors’ PII, including monitoring of the implementation of the PII regulations and associated documentation, maintenance of a stable PII market, provision of guidance to the profession, and attending to any 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 committee has published guidance notes on the PII renewal, the common proposal form, risk management, and withdrawal by Axis Specialty Europe SE from the market. Practice notes have been issued on PII changes and the PII renewal.

The PII market remains stable, as evidenced by the fact that only two firms have availed of the Assigned Risks Pool as the insurer of last resort for the 2018/19 indemnity period. The number of closed firms entering the Run-off Fund in the 2018/19 indemnity period has stayed low, at 34 firms.

The committee has been particularly focused this year on improving the PII regulations by completing an extensive gap analysis of PII regulations to identify any gaps or issues, and to future-proof the regulations with regards to matters such as Brexit and new legal structures.

Thanks to my fellow committee members and committee secretary for their hard work, assistance, and valuable input.

REGULATION OF PRACTICE COMMITTEE

Martin Crotty, Chair

The Regulation of Practice Committee administers the Law Society Compensation Fund, which is 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 solicitors’ accounts, antimoney- laundering, solicitors advertising, and regulatory requirements under the Solicitors Acts 1954-2015 not assigned to other regulatory committees.

The income and expenditure account of the compensation fund reflects a surplus (representing an excess of income over expenditure after taxation) of €830,936 for the year ended 31 December 2018 as compared with a surplus of €1,911,479 for the year ended 31 December 2017. The decrease of €1,080,543 in the surplus for 2018 (compared with 2017) is attributable to an increase in 2018 of €1,473,243 in income, an increase of €1,002,593 in expenditure (compared with 2017), an increased adjustment of €1,760,651 in the fair-value movements arising on revaluation of investments, together with a decrease in taxation amounting to €209,458.

Income streams

The increase of €1,473,243 in income in 2018 is attributed mainly to an increase of €1,341,616 in recoveries from defaulting solicitors, together with an increase of contributions receivable of €268,206.

Expenditure

The increase of €1,002,593 in expenditure as between the two years is attributable to an increase in the provision for claims of €914,870.

Balance sheet

The net assets of the fund, as at 31 December 2018, stood at €22,346,224, compared with €21,515,288 on 31 December 2017.

The increase of €830,936 in the net asset position of the fund as between the two years’ end is reflected in an increase of €2,587,275 in revenue reserves, together with a decrease of €1,756,339 in the revaluation reserve on the fund’s investments.

Developments since December 2018

In the six months ended 30 June 2019, a total of 74 claims were received. Excluding invalid claims refused, these claims amounted to €1,954,017. Payments were made in the sum of €816,547 in respect of claims, and claims amounting to €1,137,470 are still under consideration.

The net assets of the fund are valued at €23 million, as at 30 June 2019. The annual contribution to the fund was €720 per solicitor for 2019. This was reduced from €760 in the previous year, which was possible due to the steady stewardship of funds. Insurance cover for €50 million in excess of €5 million is in place for the year ending 31 December 2019.

Committee activities

The committee met 20 times during the year, for 17 scheduled and three special meetings.

Arising from these meetings, the committee decided to: levy contributions amounting to €8,750 towards the cost of investigations, refer 23 solicitors to the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (17 of these cases related to late filing of reporting accountants’ reports), and apply to the High Court pursuant to the Solicitors Acts in four cases.

The investigating accountants conducted approximately 375 investigations throughout the year. A judicial review challenged a decision to reject an application for compensation from the compensation fund. This was successfully resisted with costs. The judge ruled that the committee’s deliberations and decision were sound as to substance and procedure.

We continue to update the dedicated cybersecurity webpage at www.lawsociety.ie/cybersecurity. Cybersecurity and fraud presentations at CPD seminars were made to continue to raise awareness. Relationships have been established with cybersecurity divisions of other organisations, including An Garda Síochána, the Property Registration Authority, the Central Bank, and the British Solicitors Regulation Authority.

REGULATION OF PRACTICE COMMITTEE (Cont'd)

The Solicitors (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Act 2018 introduced additional statutory obligations on the profession in relation to anti-moneylaundering and terrorist financing. This increased the workload of the investigating accountants and the committee in monitoring compliance. Compliance with the Solicitors (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) Regulations 2016 increased – 94.5% of practices investigated were compliant. Remedial action brought the compliance rate up to 100%.

New Solicitors Advertising Regulations 2019 (SI 229/2019) were introduced on 1 June 2019 following an opinion of the European Commission. The Society continues to target illegal ‘claims-harvesting’ websites. Next year, responsibility for the regulation of solicitors’ advertising is to pass to the Legal Services Regulatory Authority.

The committee, in addition to its enforcement role, has an educational one and, to this end, published:

  • A practice note (August/September 2018 Gazette, p64) that addressed long-outstanding balances on client ledgers, which recommends that solicitors review and deal with such balances as moneys to which the firm is beneficially entitled, or repayment to clients.
  • A practice note (June 2019 Gazette, p65) that dealt with long-outstanding balances in the client ledger where a firm is acquiring, taking over, or merging with another firm. The new practice should deal with these long outstanding balances.
  • Practice notes (June 2019 Gazette, p64) about solicitors borrowing from clients, and loans being made from a client to another client. Best practice requires independent legal advice and full supporting documentation.

The Solicitors (Compensation Fund) Regulations 2018 (SI 548/2018) came into operation on 1 February 2019. The regulations extend the time limit for making a claim on the compensation fund from six months to 12 months, and incorporate a new application form for claiming refunds of money paid to a solicitor, with accompanying guidance published on the Society’s website.

A subcommittee examined procedures and the provision of reasons for committee decisions, and issued recommendations, including the enhanced committee training. The committee already undergoes training to keep members up to date with regulatory developments.

The committee, on its own initiative, decided to adopt codified rules of procedure for the purpose of aiding clarity and certainty for the benefit of the committee, and persons dealing with the committee. Subsequently, the Council of the Law Society directed the committee to draft rules of procedure and to report progress later this year.

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

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE
RESOLUTION COMMITTEE

William Aylmer, 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 vice-chair Alison Kelleher, committee secretary John Lunney, and dedicated committee colleagues Anthony Hussey, Michael Carrigan, Helen Kilroy, James Kinch, Bill Holohan, Liam Guidera, Eamonn Conlon, Noreen Howard and Diego Gallagher.

It is not possible here to mention all the committee’s work during the session, but this is an outline of some key elements.

In collaboration with GEMME (Irish Branch), the committee hosted a sold-out and very successful seminar on mediation in the civil justice system. GEMME is the European association for judges interested in mediation. This took place in March, and a panel of eminent speakers addressed an audience of mediators, solicitors, and judges (serving and retired) on various topics, including how the Mediation Act has helped to integrate mediation into our civil justice system and whether this legislation marks a step change in litigation practice when compared to other jurisdictions.

Section 12 of the Mediation Act 2017 envisages the establishment of a Mediation Council. The committee is actively involved in a working group of interested parties brought together by the Legal Aid Board to make a proposal to Government to establish the council. This group was convened by John McDaid, chief executive of the Legal Aid Board, and it submitted a proposal to the Minister for Justice in April 2019 that included a recommendation that the Law Society be a nominating body to the first Mediation Council.

In March 2019, a client care leaflet, Your Guide to Mediation, which was prepared by the committee, was published on the Law Society website. This guide was awarded the ‘Plain English’ stamp by the National Adult Literacy Agency.

In May 2019, the committee undertook a review of the membership of the Law Society’s Panel of Arbitrators. That panel is subject to review on a five-yearly basis. The review requested confirmation from existing members of their active experience and knowledge of arbitration before being confirmed to the panel.

The committee’s appointees to the ICC National Committee and to the ICC Court of Arbitration Commission continue to represent the profession’s interests, attend meetings in Paris, and keep the committee informed of developments. Committee members, including the chair, are members of and continue to support the work of Arbitration Ireland in promoting Ireland as a venue for cross-border dispute arbitration and promoting reform of the law relating to third-party funding in particular.

The committee, on behalf of the Society as a member of the CCBE, actively participated again this year in another EU working group, preparing an advocacy and representation training programme for lawyers to assist clients in the mediation process.

The committee continues its ongoing promotion of all forms of ADR – including mediation, arbitration, and adjudication – to members through seminars, speaking engagements, the Society website and social media updates.

The committee continues to provide specimen documents and other supports to members through the website and directly when requested.

We believe the committee has worked effectively and in a manner consistent with the strategic objectives of the Law Society. Specifically, with reference to education, committee members are active contributors at the Law School and assist in the preparation of diploma courses and other speaking engagements, lectures and articles. The committee has worked with the Education Department to ensure greater coverage of ADR (particularly mediation) at PPC level and has indicated a willingness to contribute to any new courses in this area.

BUSINESS LAW
COMMITTEE

Joy Compton, Chair

The committee is responsible for representing, informing, and assisting the profession on a broad range of business-law-related topics.

It also monitors developments in business law and practice and has continued the role of acting as a clearing house for any issues or anomalies arising under the Companies Act 2014.

In the year under review, the committee made the following submissions:

  • August 2018 – the case for strengthening legal protections for a charitable CLG when its directors cause the charity to act ultra vires the objects in its memorandum of association,
  • December 2018 – simplified merger procedure for the review of certain mergers and acquisitions,
  • March 2019 – targeted consultation on the draft guidelines on the standardised presentation of the remuneration report under Directive 2007/36/EC, as amended by Directive (EU) 2017/828,
  • March 2019 – public consultation on the Limited Partnerships Act 1907,
  • July 2019 – Brexit, CREST, the Central Securities Depositories Regulation, and the Irish Equity Markets,
  • July 2019 – European Union (Anti-Money-Laundering, Beneficial Ownership of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2019.

The committee also issued a practice note in December 2018 on escrow accounts and escrow agents, and is currently preparing guidance for the profession on the execution of commercial agreements via electronic means.

On 15 November 2018, the committee held a highly popular half-day business law conference at the Law Society that consisted of an interview with company lawyer Tom Courtney, an update on the Beneficial Ownership Regulations, issues arising out of share purchase agreements, and a discussion panel on ‘Optimising the relationship between private practitioners and in-house counsel/commercial clients’.

During the year, the committee continued to monitor developments in relation to the European Union (Anti- Money-Laundering Beneficial Ownership of Corporate Entities) Regulations 2016.

We continue to represent the profession on the Company Law Review Group, CRO Link and the CCBE Private Law and Company Law Committees. 

I wish to thank committee vice-chair Neill Keenan and our secretary Joanne Cox for their continued commitment to the work of the committee. I wish, also, to take this opportunity to mention our former member and colleague Paul Robinson (Arthur Cox), whose untimely death in May was a tragic loss to the committee and our profession. Paul provided invaluable input, particularly in relation to the implementation of the Beneficial Ownership Regulations.

CONVEYANCING COMMITTEE

Patrick Sweetman, Chair

The Conveyancing Committee has had an exceptionally busy year. As well as all its usual work helping solicitors in matters of conveyancing practice and procedure, the 12-month period from July 2018 to June 2019 was dominated by the committee’s facilitation and implementation of the move by the profession to precontract investigation of title (PCIT), the culmination of three years’ work that had first been mooted in 2016.

The final stages of PCIT involved a fundamental review and amendment of the standard contract and requisitions, leading to new 2019 editions of both precedents (along with detailed explanatory memoranda and FAQs) produced in December 2018 for use in all conveyancing transactions on or after 1 January 2019. The profession, having made many valuable submissions to the committee in response to being consulted on the change in practice, was kept appraised of developments by articles in the Society’s eZine and Gazette, and by a fully subscribed seminar chaired by Prof John CW Wylie in October 2018 and a well-received slot at the Society’s annual Property Law Conference. The committee was also supported by the Society’s Professional Training/Skillnet in the production of an electronic interactive course on PCIT, which is available to practitioners up to the end of December 2019 by booking in the usual way.

The new regime was launched on 1 January 2019 and has been wholeheartedly adopted by the profession, with very positive feedback all round. Committee members helped with raising awareness of the new regime among the profession by providing 13 presentations nationwide between December 2018 and March 2019 in response to requests from bar associations. A total of 1,049 members availed of courses and presentations. The change in practice was also flagged to external stakeholders, with 15 presentations, meetings and correspondence with lending institutions, NAMA, IBEC, law searchers and the professional bodies for estate agents between November 2018 and June 2019. The Society issued three press releases on PCIT during December 2018 and January 2019, which were picked up by 17 online and print media. The responsiveness of conveyancing practitioners to this change in practice is seen by the committee as a great success that the profession will benefit from in the long run.

Alongside the above 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 secretary, dealt with 902 queries. Eighty new written queries were considered at the committee’s monthly meetings, along with a rolling agenda of about 35 ongoing topics.  

The committee issued 19 new practice notes (www.lawsociety.ie/practicenotes) on diverse topics. New publications include the 2019 Conditions of Sale, 2019 Requisitions on Title, and 2019 Completion Notices for Vendors and Purchasers (www.lawsociety.ie/precedents).

The committee continued to represent solicitors’ interests in its engagement with external bodies representing various stakeholders in the conveyancing process, including representative organisations, Government departments, and other State bodies. The committee met, and has ongoing liaison with, several external bodies in relation to practice issues that were of major concern to solicitors during the year, including:

  • A series of bi-monthly meetings this year with the Property Registration Authority on Land Registry Form 3, data protection, and other registration matters, with registration of easements expected to come to further prominence in the coming year,
  • The Banking and Payments Federation Ireland in relation to issues arising from the residential certificate of title system with qualified redemption figures and delays in issuing releases still being two of the main problems for solicitors,
  • Ongoing liaison with Revenue and the Taxes Administration Liaison Committee (TALC) on electronic stamping and LPT, in conjunction with the Taxation and Technology Committees,
  • Further work was undertaken with Irish Water on ‘taken in charge’ letters and new properties, which is continuing.

The committee’s ongoing projects and activities for its task forces in the coming year include:

  • A major review of landlord and tenant matters – reviewing and updating pre-lease enquiries, rent-review clauses, and service charge clauses in commercial leases,
  • Considering the feasibility of a new commercial certificate of title,
  • A comprehensive review of the practice position with regard to registration of easements,
  • A review of MUDs/managed properties, and the need for protocols for collecting information from managing agents for the purpose of sales,
  • A review of the extent to which AML requirements of foreign entities continue to be source of concern for practitioners.

My thanks are due to all committee members and consultants, vice-chair Orla Coyne, and our secretary Catherine O’Flaherty, for their time, hard work and support throughout the year.

CRIMINAL LAW
COMMITTEE

Robert Purcell, Chair

It was another busy year for the committee, with many significant projects and achievements.

These included advocating for legal-aid rate restoration; continuing our programme of liaison meetings with criminal justice system stakeholders to represent the experiences of solicitors when they attend garda stations or prisons; the ongoing development of initiatives to normalise and embed the use of the ‘Find a garda station solicitor’ web search in garda stations; and the continued representation of the interests of criminal law practitioners with various State bodies.

The committee also provided solicitor feedback to the DMD practice direction for criminal proceedings, as well as contributing the voice of solicitors to law reform consultations by making submissions throughout the year on topics including reform of juries and the prosecution and investigation of sexual offences.

The committee continued its assistance to criminal law practitioners with practice guidance queries and by hosting the committee’s annual conference in November 2018, in conjunction with Law Society Professional Training.

Our next annual conference will be in November 2019.

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT UNIT

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 CDU oversees that objective. It meets with the teams running the courses in professional practice, 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.

This year, we reviewed the PPC electives in technology, communications and social media, conveyancing, legal practice Irish, business law, litigation, advocacy skills and client care, employment law, family law and probate.

The CDU continues to monitor training developments in Britain and, following a study trip to the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority in Birmingham, noted with interest their intention to introduce the Solicitor’s Qualification Examination (SQE) in autumn 2021, which will be a rigorous examination for all who seek to enter the profession.

We are keeping under review the recommendations of the Peart Commission Report on the review of solicitor education.

Thanks to each committee member from a wide range of practices and to Dr Geoffrey Shannon, deputy director of education, for his dedicated support as our secretary, and all the managers and tutors of the Law Society Law School, CPD and Diploma Centre.

EMPLOYMENT AND EQUALITY LAW COMMITTEE

Loughlin Deegan, Chair

During the past year, the Employment and Equality Law Committee has provided a strong voice in policy debate in order to inform decision-making.

We have made submissions to the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission’s consultations on its draft Code of Practice on Equal Pay and its draft Code of Practice on Sexual Harassment and Harassment at Work.

A subcommittee of members is preparing a submission advocating the establishment of a separate forum to allow more efficient means of resolving bullying and harassment cases.

The committee continues to monitor the experience of practitioners attending before the Workplace Relations Committee (WRC) and, along with other stakeholder organisations, has met with the executives of the WRC to offer suggestions for continuous improvement.

Committee members actively monitor legislation with a view to making submissions to Government. For example, a subcommittee is currently drafting a submission highlighting the numerous deficiencies of the Employment (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2018 and the challenges those deficiencies pose to practitioners.

The committee has a particular focus on supporting solicitors in practice.

Through the good offices of Maura Dineen of the Taxation Committee, we have raised with the Revenue Commissioners concerns about the taxation of employer contributions to employee legal fees and achieved helpful changes to the Revenue Tax and Duty Manual.

We make employment and equality law precedents available to the profession on the Society’s website. We regularly update those precedents in light of changes in law and practice. These precedents were downloaded by Society members 1,524 times in 12 months to 20 March 2019.

We have provided 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

Diane Balding, Chair

The committee maintains representation on the Council of Bars and Law Societies in Europe (CCBE), the German- Irish Lawyers and Business Association (GILBA), and the Franco-Irish Law Association (FILA). These relationships allow the Law Society to represent the solicitors’ profession at international level and to influence policy debate on legal services and regulation matters.

The committee has continued to respond to queries and requests for assistance sent to it by other European law societies and bars. Brexit has also remained a focus.

In October 2018, we hosted a delegation of 28 Polish lawyers from the Warsaw Bar Association. The delegation was on a study visit to Ireland and was hosted by the Law Society on 11 October 2018.

Throughout the year, we provided updates and education on EU and international matters for Law Society members. Committee members submitted articles for publication in the Gazette on a variety of matters, including merger control, competition law, and CJEU case law.

In September 2018, the EU seminar took place, which focused on the application of AML/CFT rules to cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin. On 21 March 2019, we hosted a talk focusing on international issues in sports law, at which representatives of the legal teams of FIFA and World Rugby spoke.

We also facilitated and sponsored the placement of a young Irish qualified solicitor to take part in an international Stage in Paris in late 2018. This placement offers a great opportunity for a solicitor to attend courses at the École de Formation du Barreau, followed by a monthlong internship at a Paris law firm.

I extend my sincere thanks to all members of the committee for their valuable contributions, hard work and insightful input, and to our new secretary Deirdre Flynn for her ongoing support and dedication.

FAMILY AND CHILD LAW COMMITTEE

Keith Walsh, Chair

The Child and Family Law Committee has had an exceptionally busy and productive year, with:

  • The private international law difficulties created by a disorderly Brexit,
  • The annual conference in November 2018, and
  • An appearance before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality to advocate reform of the family law system.

The committee supported or was involved, either directly or indirectly, with the following:

  • The passing of a constitutional referendum to reduce the waiting time for divorce and to establish a more effective mechanism for recognising foreign divorces. These measures were led by Minister Josepha Madigan, who is a former committee member, and by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan, with the direct support of the committee.
  • The highly acclaimed report, Divorce in Ireland – the Case for Reform, was commissioned by the committee and researched and written by Dr Geoffrey Shannon. Already, it has had a significant influence on family law policy in Ireland, and is under active consideration by a number of Government departments and the Law Reform Commission.
  • The commencement of the Domestic Violence Act 2018 on 1 January 2019, which was the culmination of many years of lobbying and work by the Law Society and the Child and Family Law Committee. At time of writing, the committee continues to lobby for the introduction of the Circuit Court Rules to accompany the act.
  • Addressing the multiplicity of difficulties arising in relation to jurisdictional disputes involving Britain after a disorderly Brexit, including raising these matters directly with the relevant Government departments and ministers.
  • The annual conference in November 2018, with contributions by the then President of the District Court Rosemary Horgan, Dr Geoffrey Shannon, Gerry Durcan SC, committee members, and Dr Anne Byrne Lynch. This year’s conference will be opened by President Colin Daly and take place on 22 November 2019.
  • Keith Walsh and Helen Coughlan appeared before the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality in February 2019 to advocate for reform of the family law system of justice. Their presentation was well received, and a number of follow-up queries were addressed. Particular areas for reform highlighted were difficulties arising out of the current courts system, including heavy caseloads, delays, inadequate facilities, judges lacking specialist expertise in family law, the need for a dedicated family law court structure, costs issues in family law, alternative dispute resolution, the conduct of family law proceedings, and issues regarding hearing the voice of the child.
  • The committee’s task force on legal aid also made submissions to the Legal Aid Board setting out a comprehensive case for the need to reform the current legal aid system. 
  • The committee worked closely with the Family Lawyers Association, the DSBA, and the Bar Council to continue to press for the development of the site at Hammond Lane, Dublin 7, as a new venue for all family law courts in Dublin.

Great credit is due to the members of the committee for the substantial investment of time, energy and expertise that they have devoted to the committee over the past 12 months. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the contributions of vice-chair Helen Coughlan, Geoffrey Shannon, Rachael Hession, Attracta O’Regan and, in particular, pay tribute to Jane Moffat, who retired earlier this year as secretary to the committee. We thank Jane for her many years of dedicated service, which is greatly appreciated. I would like to wish new secretary Fergal Mawe well on his appointment. This year also saw the appointment of Carol Anne Coolican, committee member and former chair of the committee, as a judge of the District Court. The committee wishes her well on her appointment and wishes to thank her for her years of service to the committee and the profession.

It is not possible to finish this year’s report without mentioning two outstanding family lawyers whose contribution to improving the system of family in Ireland is without parallel. The first is Judge Rosemary Horgan, who this year completed her term of office as President of the District Court. Her work prior to her appointment to the bench in terms of CPD, articles on family law, and advocacy for reform was exceptional; however, the legal profession owes her a debt of gratitude for her work as a judge and as President of the District Court.

GAZETTE EDITORIAL
BOARD

Michael Kealey, Chair

The Gazette remains the most popular communications channel for members of the solicitors’ profession.

The soft-launch in September of its daily online news service Gazette.ie was followed by the official launch on 14 November 2018. The news service (which complements the monthly magazine) allows readers to stay informed about the most significant daily legal news and analysis, and includes:

  • Daily news updates (Monday to Friday),
  • A breaking news service,
  • ‘Long-read’ analysis articles,
  • Short video news clips, with one-on-one interviews,
  • Photo and video galleries, and
  • Dedicated social media channels.

And the innovations kept coming. The Gazette became the first magazine in the country to offer readers a ‘narrated journalism’ service. Since November 2019, Law Society members and Gazette subscribers have been able to listen to the magazine’s main features being narrated by professional readers on Gazette.ie, or through the service provider’s app at newsoveraudio.com.

The Gazette is in good company, sharing the News Over Audio (NOA) platform with publications such as The Economist, The New York Times, Financial Times, Bloomberg News and The Irish Times. In fact, the Gazette was the first business-to-business (B2B) publication to become globally available on NOA.

These developments were recognised by Magazines Ireland at its national awards ceremony at year-end 2018. Gazette.ie scooped the ‘Digital Product of the Year’ award, the Gazette magazine took the ‘Magazine of the Year’ title (B2B category), while Gazette journalist Mary Hallissey made it a hat-trick by winning the coveted ‘Journalist of the Year’ award – a first for the Gazette. The judges congratulated the Gazette on its efforts to keep innovating in order to match user trends and demands. “While the print edition remains the jewel in the crown, with an increased print run, the brand has been effectively developed across other platforms,” the judges commented.

Continuing with the innovation theme, the Gazette has been actively pursuing an alternative to the polybags used to distribute the magazine. The publication is already 100% recyclable – environmentally friendly paper, inks and varnish are used in its production – and while the polybags are also 100% recyclable, we wish to discontinue the use of plastic in our distribution process. We are optimistic that a solution is imminent and will inform readers when that happens.

The magazine continues to grow its circulation, which is due chiefly to the increase in the number of practitioners on the Roll – helped by the influx of British solicitors applying for membership in Ireland as a result of Brexit.

The launch of Gazette.ie has had another positive effect – a total of 357,537 unique visitors clicked into the magazine’s website in the year under review (July 2018 to June 2019), resulting in a significant jump of over 300% compared with the previous 12 months. This augurs well for the future development of the site.

I am most grateful to my editorial board colleagues for their dedication, commitment and valuable contributions throughout the year – and for their unstinting support for all of these exciting initiatives. My congratulations, once again, to the Gazette team on its constant efforts to achieve publishing excellence, and in its drive to continue innovating.  

GUIDANCE AND ETHICS COMMITTEE

Valerie Peart, Chair

It has been my great pleasure to act as chairperson to the Guidance and Ethics Committee this past year.

The committee has recently completed two guides for legal firms taking students into their office on work experience: Work Experience in a Legal Firm – A Guide for Students and Work Experience in a Legal Firm – A Guide for Solicitors. Both guides aim to assist firms taking students on work experience and will be available to download from the Law Society website in the autumn.

The committee continues to support the excellent work of the Panel to Assist Solicitors. We had a very successful seminar for volunteer panel members in November 2018 focusing on professional wellbeing and ethical practice. Another such event is planned for November 2019.

This year saw the continuance of the ever-popular bar association visits, where committee members can meet colleagues to give information and updates from the work of the committee. In the year 2018/2019, committee members were in contact with bar associations nationally and provided speakers for nine bar association events.

Our ‘Ten Steps Project’ continued during the year, with regular articles appearing in the Gazette on a wide range of topics, providing short and easily read practice notes – three have been published over the course of the past year. The committee has also, in collaboration with the Technology Committee, updated the practice note on data retention and destruction of paper and electronic files, which was published in March 2019.

The committee continues to monitor developments and events promoting physical health and wellbeing for solicitors.

The committee continue to maintain and update the list of solicitors participating in Get a Quote, which provides access to quotes from solicitors through the Law Society platform. There are currently 322 firms participating in this project.

We continue to monitor the progress of the Legal Services Regulatory Authority. As chairperson, I sit on the LSRA Task Force and have provided updates regarding the LSRA.

We have had a busy agenda, and all committee members have shown the utmost commitment and enthusiasm for the various matters undertaken.

Finally, many thanks to Linda Kirwan and to Pamela Connolly for their enormous help and support during the year.

HUMAN RIGHTS AND
EQUALITY COMMITTEE

Shane McCarthy, Chair

The Human Rights and Equality Committee this year continued with its programme of activities, promoting the law and practice of human rights both among the profession and members of the public.

Through this committee, via 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).

On 20 October 2018, the committee hosted the 16th Annual Human Rights Conference at Blackhall Place, on the theme ‘Capacity in Ireland: challenges in balancing rights and practical realities’. The event was organised by the committee in partnership with Family Carers Ireland and Law Society Professional Training. The conference was widely attended, generated insightful debate, and highlighted the different aspects of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 and its impact on relevant parties.

The committee prepared a number of submissions, including a joint submission with the Criminal Law Committee on the ministerial review of the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault trials, observations on the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission’s draft Code of Practice on Sexual Harassment and Harassment at Work, and the CCBE submission on a public consultation related to the EU implementation of the Aarhus Convention in the area of access to justice in environmental matters. We also contributed to the Law Society’s submission on the High Court Practice Direction 81 – asylum, immigration and citizenship list.  

In June 2019, the committee held the 14th Annual Human Rights Lecture with Craig D Hannah (chief judge of Buffalo City Court, New York, who also presides over the court’s Opiate Intervention and Adolescent Diversion Division). The lecture was titled ‘Justice and addiction – intersection of drug policy and human rights’ and we had the honour of hosting Judge Rosemary Horgan (President of the District Court) as a distinguished guest.

Members of the committee continue to contribute to education, offering advice and guidance on relevant course content, and as regular contributors to PPC and diploma courses.

Currently, we are occupied with the organisation of the 17th Annual Human Rights Conference, which will take place on 12 October at Blackhall Place.

The committee is also continuing its awareness initiatives, with regular contributions to the Gazette, Gazette.ie, the eZine, and regular updates to its committee page on the Society’s website.

Articles published included:

  • The ‘Endangered lawyers’ series, prepared monthly by committee member Alma Clissmann,
  • ‘Human Rights Conference to address capacity’ (August/September 2018),
  • ‘Capacity Act is a “good step in right direction”’ (December 2018),
  • ‘Lawyer attacks increasing, EU hearing is told’ (March 2019),
  • ‘Appeals before the International Protection Appeals Tribunal’ (May 2019), and
  • ‘Justice and addiction’ (June 2019).

My thanks go to vice-chair Thomas Reilly and to all committee members for giving so generously of their time, interest and expertise. In particular, my gratitude goes to Michelle Lynch and Nadya Lazarova for their work and assistance as secretaries to the committee.

IN-HOUSE AND
PUBLIC SECTOR
COMMITTEE

Mark Cockerill, Chair

On 26 September 2018, the committee held its panel discussion – ‘The in-house solicitor: dealing with change and upheaval’ – in Limerick, having previously held it in Dublin on 24 May. On 8 November 2018, the committee held its annual conference.

The committee continued to liaise with the Gazette to ensure content relevant to in-house solicitors was included – for instance, an article in the July 2019 issue, ‘The inside track’. The monthly in-house update continued to be published on the Society’s website and in the members’ eZine.

The committee continued to provide practical guidance on a variety of queries received from members of the in-house sector. 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.

On 16 May 2019, the committee held its panel discussion (‘Enhancing and demonstrating value – sourcing and managing legal services’).

The committee is liaising with Support Services head Keith O’Malley to produce a number of career support videos for in-house solicitors.

The committee is also liaising with the Guidance and Ethics Committee regarding a proposed practice note on legal professional privilege.

I continued to represent the society at general assemblies of the European Company Lawyers’ Association.

Patrick Ambrose, committee member, continued as the Society’s representative on the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe Working Group on the European Convention on the Profession of Lawyer.

On 11 October 2019, the committee held its annual conference on the influence of technology on in-house counsel.

I would like to thank all committee members for their contribution this year, with special thanks to vice-chair Anna-Marie Curry and secretary Louise Campbell.

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY & DATA PROTECTION LAW COMMITTEE

John Cahir, Chair

Throughout 2018 and 2019, the committee has continued to be involved in assisting practitioners in their implementation of the GDPR requirements. As a continuation of the ‘GDPR 12 steps for practitioners guidance notes’, the committee has released guidance for practitioners dealing with data access requests and data breaches. In addition, the committee agreed a data sharing protocol with the Bar of Ireland.

The guidance notes and the protocol, together with other resources, such as FAQs, are available on the GDPR and data protection page of the Law Society website (www. lawsociety.ie/Solicitors/Regulations/Data-Protection).

In addition, committee members have given presentations on subject access requests and data litigation at events in Dublin and Cork. The subject access requests presentation will be made available as an online resource with the assistance of Law Society Finuas Skillnet.

In 2019, the committee held meetings with the Data Protection Commissioner and the Controller of the Patents Office to discuss developments in, and the implementation of, data protection law and patent law.

Committee members represented the profession on the International Chamber of Commerce Intellectual Property Committee, the Government’s Data Forum, and a DBEI meeting on the Irish National AI Strategy.

The committee has continued with the ongoing review of the impact of Brexit on intellectual property law in Ireland and the EU proposals on copyright and the digital single market. In addition, we regularly assisted colleagues with queries in IP and data law.

I would like to thank the committee members for their support and hard work throughout the year.

LITIGATION COMMITTEE

 

Liam Kennedy, Chair

This year was a busy one, with contributions from all committee members. Below is a brief synopsis of some of the matters we dealt with over the last 12 months.

Brexit

We supported a Law Society and Bar Council initiative to promote Ireland as a centre for legal business. We need to promote Ireland’s advantages, including the fact that, in of a ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario, Ireland would be the leading common law jurisdiction in the EU.

VHI undertaking

The committee has worked with the VHI to modify the solicitors’ undertaking that it requires before indemnifying clients when there is a possibility of recovery from another party. Many committee members have contributed (most recently Ronan O’Neill, Jack O’Brien and Colette Reid and, previously, Stuart Gilhooly). Wording has been agreed with the VHI (subject to the Law Society approval) and we appear close to a solution.

Submissions

The committee has contributed to Law Society initiatives and submissions, including submissions to the rules committees of the various Courts. Topics include:

  • Legal aid for distressed home owners.
  • Judicial review in asylum cases.
  • The EU Service Regulation.
  • New High Court cost rules,
  • The review of the District Court cost rules,
  • District Court case management.

Technology

The committee supports greater use of technology in the courts, including electronic filing of pleadings, use of e-briefs and paperless trials.

Guidance

As well as responding to individual queries, the committee supports the profession through the publications and updates via the eZine, the Gazette and the Law Society website.

Personal injuries

The committee liaises with the Injuries Board and advises the profession of developments in personal injury law, including the PIAB (Amendment) Act.  

Third-party litigation funding

The committee is considering possible third-party litigation funding reforms (to ensure greater access to justice).

Class actions

The committee is considering possible multi-party litigation remedies and procedures.

Annual seminar

The annual seminar took place 3 October 2019. Distinguished speakers included Chief Justice Frank Clarke.

GDPR

The committee has contributed to the Society’s response to the GDPR, including a protocol agreed with the Bar to ensure GDPR compliance. The protocol reflects mandatory standards, enabling solicitors and barristers to rely on the protocol, rather than individually negotiating GDPR on every retainer.

Mediation

The Litigation and Mediation Committees have collaborated to produce precedents to explain the benefits of mediation.

Courts Service

The committee engages with the Courts Service. Karen McDonnell is our very successful liaison.

I would like to thank Mike Kavanagh, who is standing down after years of great service; vice-chair Lisa Carty; secretary Colette Reid, who has ensured that we met our goals and objectives for the benefit of the profession in 2019; and, last but certainly not least, Fiona Duffy, my predecessor as chair, who deftly guided the committee with wisdom, tact and humour.

PROBATE, ADMINISTRATION AND TRUSTS COMMITTEE

Georgina Drum, Chair

The committee continued to protect the right of clients in nursing homes to have free access to their solicitor without third-party interference and, in this regard, is liaising with the Mental Health and Capacity Task Force in a mutually supportive and cooperative fashion.

The committee continues to engage with the Department of Justice and Equality in relation to the proposed Civil Law (Costs in Probate Matters) Bill 2017 and in relation to the proposed Registration of Wills Bill 2016. While both of these are private member’s bills, the committee is still keeping them under close review and making its opposition to both known.

The committee continued to liaise with the Probate Office on a number of matters, including delays reported by members and in relation to the recent reforms within the Probate Office.

The committee continued its work in relation to the Fourth AML Directive and the potential unintended consequences of its transposition into Irish law in relation to simple will trusts for minor or incapacitated beneficiaries.

The committee continued to engage with the relevant departments in relation to the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act 2015, which has been signed into law but not yet enacted, and primarily in relation to a proposed part 13 to the act.

Committee members actively engaged with the Revenue Commissioners directly in relation to the proposed online CA 24, which is still in the very early stages. The views of committee members have been expressed strongly to the Revenue representatives present. The committee also contributed to the Law Society budget submission and raised issues in relation to the availability of relevant practice notes on the amended Revenue website.

The committee engaged with the Regulation and the Representation and Member Services Departments in the production of new one-page client care leaflet in relation to enduring powers of attorney, which is due to be published this year.

In addition, the committee continue to engage with the CAT ROS Users Group, the Probate Office Users Group, and the Probate Office to deal with areas of mutual concern (some of which are outlined above).

The committee continues to engage with Computershare, Irish State Savings, the Irish League of Credit Unions, and the banks to outline best practice when dealing the assets of deceased clients, including joint accounts and the endorsement of cheques in certain circumstances.

The committee continues to provide assistance to colleagues who contact it in relation to particular areas of the law and of practice as it relates to probate and trusts and taxation of same.

Articles published by the committee and its members include a December 2018 eZine article on undertakings, non-resident personal representatives, and probate practice.

In conjunction with our colleagues on the Taxation Committee and STEP (the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners), the committee held the third Probate and Taxation Annual Conference on 25 October 2018, which was well attended and positively received.

In addition, committee members continue to speak at a number of Law Society and other seminars throughout the country, too numerous to mention, including CPD ‘cluster’ events, and the Probate and Taxation Masterclass.

Challenges to be taken on by the committee in 2019/20 include exploring the possibility of solicitors availing of the dormant accounts legislation for relatively small sums languishing in client accounts, continuing to lobby for an increase in Probate Office staff, continuation of the District Probate Registries, and greater technical support; and a review of the CAT ROS system in order to remove ongoing technical difficulties and to ensure solicitors have access to the relevant information they need to provide 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

Michael Kealey, Chair

The committee continues to host the annual Justice Media Awards, while a highly successful Communications Day took place last May.

The Justice Media Awards are Ireland’s longest continuously running media awards. Around 120 of the nation’s leading journalists gathered for an awards ceremony in Blackhall Place in June, with 35 awards and merits handed out.

Law Society President Patrick Dorgan told attendees: “The Justice Media Awards are the pride of the Law Society. Journalism that promotes a greater public understanding of the law, the legal system, and specific legal issues is of immeasurable value, and this year’s awards recognise some fine examples.”

The overall award went to BBC Northern Ireland, for their Spotlight investigation, ‘When is sex rape?’ This took an innovative approach to the workings of the criminal legal system through a mock rape trial, with members of the public acting as jurors and discussing their thinking.

There was a strategic review of the Society’s ‘Talk to your solicitor’ advertising campaign. The committee worked with the director of representation and member services, Teri Kelly, to develop a fresh national print and radio campaign, which has been well received by both members of the public and the profession.

The 2019 Communications Day focused on the value and connectedness of smaller legal practices and sole practitioners. It helped build on other work undertaken as part of the Small Practice Support Project.

As previously set out, the PR Committee has taken on a more strategic (rather than functional) role, and it continues to work closely with the RMS Department.

TAXATION COMMITTEE

 

Ruth Higgins, Chair

The Taxation Committee has had another busy year representing the 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 Companies Act working group.

The committee is also represented on the CCBE Taxation Group.

The committee made numerous submissions to Revenue both via the TALC forum and directly to Revenue in respect of issues concerning practitioners. It also continues to liaise with the Revenue Commissioners in relation to e-stamping and local property tax. A new TALC subgroup was formed this year to deal with agent liability issues. This group was formed following calls by the committee to address the difficulties for solicitors acting for non-resident vendors and the delays encountered.

The committee prepared a detailed pre-budget submission, which was submitted to the Minister for Finance and other relevant Government departments.

This year, the submission looked at:

  • The suboptimal means by which legislation has been introduced in recent years,
  • Access to justice in respect of VAT on legal services,
  • Recommendations to address inequalities and hardship, and
  • Simple and pragmatic legislative amendments in order to keep Irish competitive.

The committee also reviewed (to the extent appropriate) and commented on the provisions of the Finance Act 2019, and summarised its relevant consequences in the annual Tax Guide that was published and distributed to members.

The committee continues to provide updates to the profession via practice notes and CPD on changes to tax legislation and Revenue practice and procedures. In October 2018, we collaborated with the Law Society Probate Committee and STEP to provide the annual probate and taxation CPD seminar. The committee also responds to the taxation queries raised by members.

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 John Cuddigan and to all the committee members for their commitment and contributions throughout the year.

TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE

 

Brian Horkan, Chair

The Technology Committee continues to monitor the use of technology in the profession and to advise best practice to members through guidance notes in the Gazette and eZine. The committee continues to represent solicitors and the Society in its interactions with the Courts Service, Revenue Commissioners, Property Registration Authority and other government bodies.

This year the committee:

  • Published a practice note on ensuring confidentiality in the use of technology,
  • Published a practice note on case management systems, with some practical advice on the selection and implementation of a system, together with a list of potential suppliers,
  • Together with the Conveyancing Committee, published a joint practice note on sharing conditions of sale and title documents in electronic form,
  • Updated the practice note on data retention and the destruction of data and electronic files, which was first published in 2005 (this was a joint publication by the Technology and the Guidance and Ethics Committees),
  • Made recommendations to the Society on reducing its carbon footprint, and
  • Contributed to cluster events.

A practice note on secure email communications is currently being finalised and will be published shortly. The committee has proposed that the Society recommend a consistent approach to e-government secure communications systems to the government and all agencies.

The committee is also reviewing the use of artificial intelligence by the legal profession and the ethical issues arising from this.

As well as all of the above, committee members also attend regular meetings with Revenue on electronic stamping and the PRAI.

I wish to thank vice-chair Jane Bourke for her 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

Jennifer Dorgan, 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 development of the professional skills of younger members and advocate for their interests and concerns.

In 2018, we hosted a conference entitled ‘The Inclusive Lawyer – Diversity and Inclusion’. The conference focused on the need for solicitors to be conscious of diversity and inclusion as they enter leadership roles within their firms and in their interactions with clients. The event covered topics such as gender parity in the legal profession, LGBT inclusivity, and diversity in the workplace. We are very pleased to have committee member Jennifer O’Sullivan representing younger members on the Law Society’s Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (GEDI) Task Force.

This year, we have been developing links with other groups representing younger members of the legal profession. We hosted two very successful meetings with members of the Young Bar and the Society of Young Solicitors, and we are looking forward to continuing these relationships into the future.

We have also been raising awareness among trainee solicitors about the work of the Law Society and the benefits of membership. In April 2019, the chair and vice-chair addressed almost 300 PPC2 students on the range of services and supports available to them as future members of the Law Society.

Finally, in October 2019, we hosted a conference called ‘The mindful lawyer’, which aimed to promote the importance of mindfulness and mental health, as well as providing attendees with a practical toolkit for use in pressurised work environments.

I would like to thank all of our committee members for their hard work and valued contributions throughout this year, with special thanks to vice-chair Avril Flannery and committee secretary Judith Tedders for their invaluable assistance, enthusiasm, and support.

Committee Membership

STANDING COMMITTEES

COMPLAINTS AND CLIENT RELATIONS

Chair: Paul Egan
Vice-ChairsFlor McCarthy
Don Murphy
Solicitor Members
William Aylmer 
Elaine Given
Peter Groarke
Catherine Lyons
Emma Neville
Jonathan White
Lay Members
Chair: Dan Murphy
Brian Callanan
Michael Carr
Tom Coughlan
Ultan Courtney
Frank Cunneen
Vera Hogan
John Horan
Paddy Keating
Peter McLoone
Tom O’Sullivan
Chris Rowland
Secretary: Linda Kirwan

COORDINATION

ChairPatrick Dorgan
Members
Michele O’Boyle
Dan O’Connor
Michael Quinlan
James Cahill
Michelle Ní Longáin
Ken Murphy
Mary Keane
Secretary: Mary Keane

EDUCATION

ChairCarol Plunkett
Vice-ChairMartin Lawlor
Members
James Cahill
Colm Costello
Brendan Cunningham
Paul Egan
Richard Hammond
Valerie Peart
Brendan Twomey
Ex officio:
Patrick Dorgan
Michele O’Boyle
Dan O’Connor
Consultants:
John O’Connor
Michael V O’Mahony
Michael Peart
Secretary: Paula Sheedy

FINANCE

ChairChris Callan
Vice-ChairPaul Keane
Members
James Cahill
Martin Crotty
Paul Egan
Stuart Gilhooly
Julie Herlihy 
Rosemarie Loftus
Eugene McCague 
Michelle Ní Longáin
Carol Plunkett
Michael Quinlan
Austin Slattery
Ex officio:
Patrick Dorgan 
Michele O’Boyle
Dan O’Connor
Secretary: Cillian MacDomhnaill

ADMINISTRATIVE SUBCOMMITTEE OF FINANCE

Patrick Dorgan
Michele O’Boyle
Dan O’Connor
Michael Quinlan
Chris Callan
Paul Keane
Ken Murphy
Secretary: Ken Murphy

AUDIT SUBCOMMITTEE

Chair: Michelle Ní Longáin
Members
Paul Egan
Julie Herlihy
Paul Keane
Austin Slattery
Secretary: Kate Browne

LITIGATION MANAGEMENT SUBCOMMITTEE

Chair: Stuart Gilhooly
Members:
Liam Kennedy
Conor McDonnell
Ken Murphy
Michael Quinlan
Secretary: Kate Browne

MONEY-LAUNDERING REPORTING

Chair: Martin Lawlor
Frank Bowen
Chris Callan
Martin Crotty
John Elliot
Dara Robinson
Secretary: Tina Beattie

PROFESSIONAL INDEMNITY INSURANCE

Chair: Richard Hammond
Vice-Chair: Barry MacCarthy
Members
James Cahill
John Elliot

Derek Gately
Bill Holohan
Maria Lakes
Lorna McAuliffe
Shane Neville
Louise O’Reilly
Lorraine Rowland
Adrian Shanley
Brendan Twomey
Lay Member: Jim O’Mahoney
Secretary: Sorcha Hayes

REGULATION OF PRACTICE

Chair: Martin Crotty
Vice-Chairs: Chris Callan (claims division)
Brendan Cunningham
Martin Lawlor (advertising regulations division)
Imelda Reynolds
Dara Robinson
Members
Gerard Carroll
Garry Clarke
Deborah Crowley
Frank Gearty
David Higgins
Áine Hynes
Niamh Kimber
David Lavelle
Terry Leggett
Rosemarie Loftus
Mary McAveety
Shane McCarthy
Katherine McMahon
Patrick McNeice
James Murphy
John G O’Malley
Juli Rea
Noeleen Redmond
Claire Ryan
Eamonn Shannon
James Ward
Lay members:
Frank Bowen
Richard George
David Martin
Frank Mee
Lenore Mrkwicka
Secretary: John Elliot

 

NON-STANDING COMMITTEES

ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION

Chair: William Aylmer
Vice-chair: Alison Kelleher
Members
Michael Carrigan
Eamonn Conlon
Diego Gallagher
Liam Guidera
Bill Holohan
Noreen Howard
Anthony Hussey
Helen Kilroy
James Kinch
Secretary: John Lunney

BUSINESS LAW

Chair: Joy Compton
Vice-Chair: Neil Keenan
Members
Philip Andrews
Niamh Counihan
Maire Cunningham
Eleanor Daly
Philip Daly
JP Gilmartin
Richard Grey
Michael Hanley
Patricia Heavey
Robert Heron
Paul Keane
Adrian Mannion
Justin McKenna
Edward Miller
Seán Nolan
Fiona O’Connell
Gavin O’Flaherty
John Olden
Alvin Price
Paul Robinson
Mark Ryan
Paul Ryan
Robert Ryan
Eamonn Shannon
Lorcan Tiernan
Secretary: Joanne Cox

CONVEYANCING

Chair: Patrick Sweetman
Vice-Chair: Orla Coyne
Members
Con Aherne
Suzanne Bainton
Gabriel Brennan
Joan Byrne
Peter Byrne
Tom Davy
Julie Doyle
Majella Egan
Deirdre Fox
Joyce Good Hammond
Geraldine Kelly
Barry MacCarthy
Keith McConnell
Jason McGoey
Eleanor McKiernan
Leona McMahon
Sandra Murphy
Dermot O’Dwyer
Tony O’Sullivan
Joseph Thomas
Michael Walsh
Consultant: Rory O’Donnell
Secretary: Catherine O’Flaherty

CRIMINAL LAW

Chair: Robert Purcell
Vice-Chair: Helena Kiely

Members
Yvonne Bambury
Shalom Binchy
Conal Boyce
Carina Davidson
Vincent Deane
Jonathan Dunphy
Alan Gannon
Eileen McCabe
Darach McCarthy
Shane McCarthy
Margaret McEvilly
James MacGuill
Fergus Mullen
Joan O’Brien
John O’Doherty
Emer O’Sullivan
Mairéad Quigley
Richard Young
Consultants: Hugh Sheridan, Michael Staines
Secretary: Emma-Jane Williams

CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT UNIT

ChairBrendan Twomey
Vice-Chair: Jill Callanan
Members
Colm Costello
Ruth Craig
Emma Crowley
Patrick Diggins
Freda Grealy
Richard Grogan
TP Kennedy
Susan Martin
Andrew McGovern
Gemma Neylon
Fiona Ormond
Claire Ryan
Deborah Spence
Secretary: Geoffrey Shannon

EMPLOYMENT AND EQUALITY LAW

Chair: Loughlin Deegan
Vice-Chair: Catherine O’Flynn
Members
Susan Battye
Geraldine Carr
Maura Connolly
Áine Curran
Wendy Doyle
Karen Duggan
Richard Grogan
Joanne Hyde
Geraldine Hynes
Janice Kavanagh
Mary Kelleher
Sineád Likely
Deirdre Malone
Ciara McLoughlin
Rhona Murphy
Ronnie Neville
Louise O’Byrne
Emer O’Callaghan
Anne O’Connell
Breda O’Malley
Emma O’Neill
Hugh O’Neill
Jane O’Sullivan
Terence O’Sullivan
Siobhra Rush
Barry Walsh
Secretary: Rory O'Boyle

PENSIONS SUBCOMMITTEE

Chair: Stephen Gillick
Jane Barrett
Liam Connellan
Lydia Leonard
James McConville
Jane McKeever
Alexandra Moore
Tommy Nielsen
Orla Ormsby
Fiona Thornton
Susan Webster
Secretary: Rory O'Boyle

EU AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Chair: Diane Balding
Vice-Chair: Cormac Little
Members
Louise Carpendale
Martin Cooney
Duncan Grehan
Niamh Hodnett
Anthony Joyce
Richard Kelly
TP Kennedy
Ross McMahon
Cormac Ó Culáin
Secretary: Deirdre Flynn

FAMILY AND
CHILD LAW

(with responsibility also for civil legal aid)
Chair: Keith Walsh
Vice-Chair: Helen Coughlan
Members
Ailbhe Burke
Deirdre Burke
Carol Anne Coolican
Betty Dinneen
Peter Doyle
Siún Hurley
Sinead Kearney
Geraldine Keehan
Denise Kirwan
Josepha Madigan
Donagh McGowan
Aaron McKenna
Jennifer O’Brien
Aidan Reynolds
Justin Spain
Geoffrey Shannon
Grahame Toomey
Susan Webster
Consultants: Rosemary Horgan, Joan O'Mahony
Secretary: Jane Moffatt

 

Committee Membership (Cont'd)

GAZETTE EDITORIAL BOARD

Chair: Michael Kealey
Members
Aoife Byrne
Ken Casey
Mairéad Cashman
Tracy Cruikshanks
Caroline Dee-Brown
Hilary Forde
Richard Hammond
Teri Kelly
Patrick J McGonagle
Aisling Meehan
Heather Murphy
Ken Murphy
Andrew Sheridan
Secretary: Mark McDermott

GUIDANCE AND ETHICS

(with responsibility also for guidance on practice management)
Chair: Valerie Peart
Vice-Chair: Justine Carty
Members
Robert Baker
Helene Coffey
Gus Cullen
Liz Dowling
Leonora Doyle
Sean Durcan
Graham Farrell
Charles Gilmartin
John G Harte
Morette Kinsella
Susan Martin
Sharon McElligott
Michael Moran
Dan O’Connor
Ann-Marie Ryan
Consultant: Brendan Dillon
Secretary: Linda Kirwan

HUMAN RIGHTS AND EQUALITY

Chair: Shane McCarthy
Vice-Chair: Thomas Reilly
Members
Hilkka Becker
Áine Bhreathnach
Grainne Brophy
Alma Clissmann
Kieran Cummins
Michael Finucane
Aine Flynn
Diego Gallagher
Patricia Hynes
Barbara Joyce
Gary Lee
Sineád Lucey
Sandra Moloney
Clare Naughton
Ashimedua Okonkwo
Cristina Stamatescu
Rose Wall
Consultants: Noeline Blackwell, Michael Farrell
SecretaryNadya Lazarova

IN-HOUSE AND PUBLIC SECTOR

ChairMark Cockerill
Vice-Chair: Anna-Marie Curry
Members
Patrick Ambrose
Alison Bradshaw
Alan Daly
Caroline Dee-Brown
Gwen Considine
Jeanette Crowley
Robert Heron
Niamh Kimber
Ronan Lennon
Roisin Magee
Aoife Marrinan
Áine McCarthy
Deirdre McDermott
Margaret Maguire
Aideen Neylon
Richard O’Sullivan
Thomas Reilly
Evelyn Savage
Secretary: Louise Campbell

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY AND
DATA PROTECTION LAW

ChairJohn Cahir
Vice-Chair: Fiona O’Beirne
Mary Bleahene
Peter Bolger
Simon Carty
Maureen Daly
Ann Henry
James Hickey
Gerard Kelly
Deirdre Kilroy
Paul Lavery
Flor McCarthy
Patricia McGovern
Elaine McGrath
David McMunn
Leo Moore
Elaine Morrissey
Aoife Murphy
Alistair Payne
Maurice Regan
Niall Rooney
Laura Scott
Irina Sharapova
Consultant: Tara MacMahon
Secretary: Katherine Kane

LAW SOCIETY FINUAS SKILLNET

Chairs: Carol Plunkett
Brendan Twomey
Members
Garry Clarke
Eleanor Daly
Brendan Donnelly
Paul Egan
Anthony Ensor

Deirdre Fox
William Greensmyth
TP Kennedy
Kevin Lavin
Sonia McEntee
Conor MacGuill
Attracta O’Regan
Paula Reid
Tommy Reilly
Secretary: Michelle Nolan

LITIGATION

Chair: Liam Kennedy
Vice-Chair: Lisa Carty
Members
Michael Boylan
Fiona Duffy
Eamon Harrington
Áine Hynes
Peter Johnston
Mike Kavanagh
Martina Larkin
Conor MacGuill
Rowena McCormack
Karen McDonnell
Ann McGarry
Conor Minogue
Sonya Morrissy Murphy
Jack O’Brien
Joseph O’Malley
Ronan O’Neill
Julie Sadlier
Damien Tansey
Catherine Tarrant
Consultant: Stuart Gilhooly
Secretary: Colette Reid

PROBATE, ADMINISTRATION AND TRUSTS

ChairGeorgina Drum
Vice-ChairPat Bradley
Members
Catherine Bourke
Gareth Bourke
Gwen Bowen
Bernadette Cahill
Richard Hammond
Damien Jordan
Maurice Joy
Aileen Keogan
Morette Kinsella
Ita Lyster
Kevin Martin
Tom Martyn
Mary Nolan
Ciara O’Callaghan
Tracey O’Donnell
Gemma Stack
Anne Stephenson
Margaret Walsh
Secretary: Padraic Courtney

PUBLIC RELATIONS

Chair: Michael Kealey
Vice-chair: Sonia McEntee
Members
Robert Baker
James Cahill
John Glynn
Teri Kelly
Ken Murphy
Dan O’Connor
Susan Webster
Secretary: Kathy McKenna

TAXATION

Chair: Ruth Higgins
Vice-Chair: John Cuddigan
Members
Deirdre Barnicle
Pat Bradley
Niamh Caffrey
Caroline Devlin
Maura Dineen
Aidan Fahy
Donal Kennedy
David Lawless
Sonya Manzor
Tom Martyn
Gavin McGuire
Ruairi Mulrean
Michael O’Connor
Andrew Quinn
Petrina Smyth
James Somerville
Consultant: Brian Bohan
Secretary: Rachael Hession

TECHNOLOGY

Chair: Brian Horkan
Vice-Chair: Jane Bourke
Members
Neil Butler
John Furlong
Jim Heney
Joe Kane
Eamonn Keenan
Jeanne Kelly
Flor McCarthy
Michael Monahan
Labhaoise Ní Fhaoláin
Greg Ryan
Reamonn Smith
Secretary: Veronica Donnelly

YOUNGER MEMBERS

Chair: Jennifer Dorgan
Vice-chair: Avril Flannery
Members
Ciara Anderson
Caroline Crowley
Brendan Hayes
Fiona McNulty
Cian Moriarty
Emer O’Connor
Jennifer O’Sullivan
Michael P Quinlan
Hannah Shaw
Madeleine Thornton
Observer: current auditor of SADSI
Secretary: Judith Tedders

SOCIETY WORKING GROUPS AND TASK FORCES 

AML TASK FORCE

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

eCONVEYANCING TASK FORCE

Chair: Eamonn Keenan

LEGAL SERVICES REGULATION ACT TASK FORCE

Chair: Paul Keane
Members
Chris Callan
Martin Crotty
Paul Egan
John Elliot
Stuart Gilhooly
Sorcha Hayes
Rachael Hession
Liam Kennedy
Morette Kinsella
Ken Murphy
Kevin O’Higgins
Attracta O’Regan
Valerie Peart
Carol Plunkett
Michael Quinlan
Robert Ryan
Keith Walsh
Secretary: Simon Treanor

MENTAL HEALTH AND CAPACITY TASK FORCE

Chair: Richard Hammond
Vice-chair: Áine Hynes
Members
Padraic Courtney
Maria Dillon
Joan Doran
Mark Felton
Patricia Hickey
Marie Kinsella
Gary Lee
Nora Lillis
Shane McCarthy
Anne Stephenson
Gabriel Toolan
Brendan Twomey
Keith Walsh
Margaret Walsh
Secretary: Cian Monahan

PRACTICE MANAGEMENT STANDARD WORKING GROUP

Chair: Valerie Peart
Members
Chris Callan
Laurence Grace
Richard Hammond
Sharon McElligott
Brian McMullin
Pat Mullins
Michelle Ní Longáin
Mike O’Reilly
David Phelan
Secretary: Attracta O’Regan

WORKING GROUP TO DRAFT CODE OF PRACTICE UNDER ASSISTED DECISION-MAKING (CAPACITY) ACT

Chair: Keith Walsh
Members
Mary Condell
Olive Doyle
Richard Hammond
Áine Hynes
Maura King BL
Secretary: Linda Kirwan

 

WORKING GROUPS WITH THE BPFI

Steering Group

Co-Chair: Ken Murphy

Conveyancing Issues

Co-Chair: Suzanne Bainton
Secretary: Catherine O’Flaherty

Banking/Other Issues

Co-Chair: Paul Keane
Secretary: TBC

Regulatory Working Group

Co-chair: John Elliot
Secretary: Linda Kirwan

Reports and consolidated financial statements

For the year ended 31 December 2018

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 year ended 31 December 2018.

LAW SOCIETY OF IRELAND COMPENSATION FUND

For the year ended 31 December 2018

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 year ended 31 December 2018.

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.