IP Draughts congratulates Robert Bourns on his recent appointment as Chair of the new Main Board of the Law Society of England and Wales (LSEW). As a former President of LSEW, Robert is familiar with how the organisation currently works. IP Draughts hopes that Robert is sufficiently independent-minded, skilled and determined, despite his years of working within the organisation, to use his position to achieve real change in a body that badly needs it.
This appointment is part of a reorganisation of the governance structure of LSEW. In IP Draughts’ view, a reorganisation is long overdue. As chair of a specialist committee (several layers down in the organisational hierarchy), he has observed how LSEW has operated in recent years. He has the following recommendations for change:
- People. Appoint a chief executive and senior management that includes people who really understand the solicitors’ profession. Experience of other membership organisations has its place, but an insight into how solicitors work and think, both in private practice and in-house, is invaluable.
- People. Direct the senior management team to focus on two key areas: (1) creating a supportive but challenging, service-led environment for staff; and (2) understanding and delivering what the profession wants from LSEW, rather than what the LSEW thinks it should have.
- People. In relation to staff, identify the good people, and train and encourage them to focus on providing an excellent service; and identify the people who need to improve, and train and encourage them, or if they are not up to the challenge, sack them. Having and communicating a vision, and following it through consistently, which includes removing those who are not up to it, will improve staff morale in the longer term.
- People. In relation to members, identify the main segments of the profession and what each segment needs from LSEW. Use the specialist committees more: LSEW likes to say that they are at the heart of what the LSEW does, but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way from the committee side, when dealing with elected officials and LSEW employees. Improve the service offering. Use modern technology well in support of this objective. Ensure that the staff are open to new ways of interacting with members.
The Chair will have an important role in steering staff to achieve success in these areas. IP Draughts hopes he will spend time walking the corridors and getting to know people at all levels in the organisation, and not just the Board and the Council.