The Surrey Law Society is a membership organisation of around 800 local solicitors, ranging from sole practitioners to large corporate firms. The Society was incorporated in 2001, following the coming together of 3 existing law societies in Surrey.
The Society puts on a comprehensive, hybrid programme of training for members, including webinars, online forums and in-person training sessions. It runs a range of social events to encourage networking and peer support in the county and in 2018 introduced the SLS Legal Awards programme to its event calendar. The Society provides guidance and support to members in a variety of formats, including through its monthly e-Bulletins and quarterly Surrey Lawyer magazine, as well as representing members on issues of interest, including engagement in consultations that affect the profession.
One of the main aims of the Society is to get to know fellow lawyers through networking and social events as diverse as go-karting, dinners and quizzes. Liaison regularly takes place not only with adjoining societies but also on a national level. The Society also responds to consultations on behalf of the membership and lobbies government on issues of professional interest.
The SLS Management Board or Committee meets approximately four times per year, either online via Zoom, or alternating between Kingston and Guildford, plus at the AGM in November.
The main role of the Board Members is to oversee the strategic and practical management of the Society. The Officers and Members of the Board work together with the CEO, Helen Opie, to deliver a programme of CPD and Social Events throughout the year. The Board is responsible for responding to consultations and for lobbying on behalf of the wider Surrey membership. We provide support for members experiencing problems, help them with job searches and assist with complaints.
There are a number of Sub Committees that report to the Board including: Conveyancing & Land Law, Equality, Diversity & Inclusion, Finance, Private Client, Quo Vadis Strategy Group and Social. You do not have to be a full Board member to serve on a Sub Committee. In addition to these Sub Committees, we are also delighted to welcome our Law Society (TLS) Council Members to our meetings so that there is an effective conduit between SLS and TLS, as well as a representative from the Surrey Junior Lawyers Division who helps to promote collaboration with junior lawyers in the county.
Board members may be asked to assist with ad hoc projects to assist with the Society’s programme of activity, such as helping to generate nominations for the awards, chairing webinars or courses and encouraging attendance at events but we try not to make the involvement too time-consuming or onerous. All committee members are required to be Directors of the company and are listed as such on Companies House.
The SLS runs the following sub-committees, alongside its main committee:
Each group has a Chairperson; members of the group do not need to sit on the main committee. The remit and commitment for each group varies but will likely include:
Topic generation and speaker recommendations for the Surrey Law Society Training & Webinar programme or planning for the social events programme
Online forum facilitation and agenda preparation
Preparation of and contribution to relevant consultation responses
Thought leadership articles for Surrey Lawyer and content generation for social media posts and Membership Bulletins.
Ad hoc member recruitment
The Surrey Law Society’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee was formed in 2021 and is chaired by Emma Patel of Rosewood Solicitors. The group was conceived to create greater diversity and inclusivity across the Society and to improve the breadth of representation across protected characteristics in the activity of Surrey Law Society.
In 2022, the group created a calendar of D&I events across the year, sharing informative posts to raise awareness of different events and campaigns across all protected characteristics. The group also introduced a ‘Focus on EDI’ section to the quarterly Surrey Lawyer magazine, hosted a seminar for members on Workplace Diversity and Inclusion with Mary Eniolu and attended the Pride in Surrey Parade.
In 2023, the group is working on a range of activities to promote diversity amongst the profession, including engaging with schools in the county about the opportunities for all children, regardless of gender, special educational needs, disabilities, race, ethnicity, faith or culture, to pursue a career in the law.
The SLS Mentoring Scheme is designed to assist junior lawyers in developing their understanding of the legal world and giving them a ‘buddy’ from another firm to speak to informally. It runs from February to December each year and the programme is entirely voluntary. Under the scheme, junior lawyers can discuss with senior practitioners areas such as working in a law firm; particular areas of law, time management and time recording, client care, networking, LinkedIn, progression; it is not however intended as a platform to discuss the specifics of legal work or seek legal advice.
For more information on the SLS Mentoring Scheme, please contact Surrey Law Society.