Ref no: 895-KK                                                                                     Issued: Wednesday 28 April 2010


Presidents making history in Birmingham


Lawyers from Birmingham City Council’s legal department enjoyed an historic address from two leading legal experts at a training day this week.


Robert Heslett, President of The Law Society, and Bernard Shepherd, President of Birmingham Law Society, both spoke during the session, attended by more than 100 lawyers at Aston University's Lakeside Centre on Monday (April 26).


In doing so, they were the first presidents of their respective organisations to speak to the City Council’s legal department in almost 190 years.


They covered a number of issues relevant to solicitors employed in local government. Additionally they responded to questions from in-house lawyers on subjects such cost of practising certificates, work-based learning pilots and alternative business structures.


Robert Heslett, President of The Law Society said: “The work that Mirza and his team have done to develop their panel arrangements is already proving hugely influential as other local authorities are beginning to select their panel from the same pool. The fact that it is built around the Law Society’s Lexcel standard means that local authorities, and Birmingham especially, are playing a very significant role in driving up standards in member firms across the country.


“Local government is leading the way not only in embedding equality and diversity, but in demanding similar standards from their external counsel. 


“Again, Birmingham leads the way. By signing the Law Society’s procurement protocol the authority committed to putting equality and diversity squarely at the heart of procurement, so it’s not just the authority which values equality and diversity, but also the firms that it works with. 


“Both of these instances show what an incredible difference local government and the Law Society can make when they work together.”


Bernard Shepherd added: “It was an opportunity to relate to the members of the Legal Services department, emphasising recognition of the importance of the department's work and the support given to the Birmingham Law society. We all agreed that connection between the two organisations should be strengthened in the future."


Dr Mirza Ahmad, Birmingham City Council's Corporate Director of Governance, who is also President of the Association of Council Secretaries & Solicitors, said: “This was a truly historical day for the legal profession in Birmingham, as this was the first time in 190 odd years that the serving President of The Law Society of England and Wales and the serving President of Birmingham Law Society addressed Birmingham City Council's Legal Department.


I am, therefore, eternally grateful to Robert Heslett and Bernard Shepherd for the great leadership and vision shown by them in making it such a memorable event.


I now hope that we do not have to wait another 190 odd years for the event to be repeated, as I firmly believe local government and private sector lawyers have a lot to offer to each other and the legal profession is much stronger as a result of each other's valuable contributions."





For further information contact Kris Kowalewski on 0121 303 3621



Photo of 3 Presidents:




L -  R :  Robert Heslett, Bernard Shepherd and Mirza Ahmad