Our President

Our President

Written By: Jason Waghorne
Edition: May 2019

Welcome to my first President’s Message!

I would like to begin my message with a note of thanks to Laura Pinkney for all the excellent work she has done over the past year as President.

Laura’s dedication to her Presidential year was tireless, her application unstinting, and her support for myself and others unwavering. If I was to characterise Laura’s tenure, I would say that she always applied herself with kindness, good humour and good grace.

I, and I know many of you also, hold her in the highest esteem. I hope that Laura looks back on her Presidency with a sense of pride for a job well done. She certainly should do so.

Were I to poll the readers of the Bulletin what membership of the Nottinghamshire Law Society means to them, no doubt I would get a variety of answers.

I myself, when I was first asked whether I wished to become involved with the Society some 3-4 years ago, had opportunity to consider that very question.

What I concluded surprised me, for until that point I hadn’t really given much thought to what the Society did, let alone how my involvement might help.

Of course, as lawyers we are, to a greater or lesser extent, versed in what the national Law Society does. But the local law society? I had some preconceived ideas, of course, but outside of those it was just, there.

As the Society’s logo testifies, the Nottinghamshire Law Society was formed nearly 150 years ago. Were you to venture to the Society’s offices on Friar Lane, you wouldn’t fail to notice the wall of photographs in the main meeting room; a visual record of those who, through the Society’s history, have served the Society, and its members, as President.

At my first Council meeting I sat with my back to that wall, conscious of the Society’s history, under the gaze of the past Presidents.

I sat, watching proceedings, trying to learn and follow the flow of what was discussed around the table. It was an education, not only of what the Society does, but what the Society is.

Around the table was a spectrum of lawyers. Whether solicitor or barrister, trainee or QC, all came as equals to speak with knowledge and enthusiasm. But to what purpose? Ultimately, it was to make us into something greater than the sum of our individual parts.

After the meeting ended, I cast my eyes across the photographs on the wall.  Some of the names I recognised: they were colleagues, faces of firms that to this day bear their name, faces of those who have been on the other side of matters I have dealt with and others, those whose reputation I was aware of, as it had been writ large within the local legal community and beyond.

It is perhaps one word in that final category which hints at the wider truth of what the Society is.

I saw it that first day on Council, when people put aside partisan tendencies in order to work together. I see it in the faces on the wall and I imagine how those lost to history came together to look after the interests of their own. I saw it at the annual dinner just the other week, where firms came and celebrated together the successes of those in our profession, and I see it at the many other events which the Society puts on for its members: everyone playing their part in the operations of the Society.

It is the idea of community which links us together. And what a community we have. From the most junior in our profession, to those who bring greater experience. From both sides of the professional divide, whether in firms or chambers, to those who work as in-house lawyers or in academia. It is the notion that, as a community, even a sole trader is not alone.

I began my message by saying that the question of what membership of the Society means is likely to elicit a variety of replies. To my mind, this is how it should be.

To some, the Society is a way of getting their voice heard, to others, an opportunity to form and cement friendships through social and charitable events. Many see the Society as a conduit to education and training and some, as a valuable source of information. No doubt there are others, but my point is this, the Society is all these things and more. It is a community.

As a Society we’ve been blessed with a number of exceptional Presidents, and I’m proud to have been chosen to take up the position, to be the most public face of a Society which continues to be as prominent, as vibrant and as wonderful as our predecessors could have hoped for.

I rightfully tip my hat to the good work of Laura and those that went before her, and also to the members of the various committees, too numerous to mention individually, whose input into the success of the Society is invaluable.

With such enviable precursors and peers, I have the luxury in my Presidential year of being able to build on solid foundations. As such, I consider my role to be one of evolution rather than revolution. But I am mindful that, while we should rightly celebrate our history, we should not be restrained by it.

The needs of the Nottinghamshire legal community in 1875 were undoubtedly different to those now. There are new challenges, new legal landscapes and continual changes to the legal environment. No doubt, in 12 months’ time when I hand the Presidency on to Philip Turton, things will have changed again.

In times of change, constancy is appealing. But relevance to our members, in whatever form that may take, should be our watch-word, and my focus in the coming year is to see that what we do is looked upon with that in mind.

The Society is not a function of Chancery Lane. Perhaps then best described, not as the law society, but truly a society of lawyers, acting together, in the best way they can, for the benefit of all of Nottinghamshire’s lawyers.

I think that what I wish to impress upon you, and I acknowledge that I may be preaching to the choir, is that Nottinghamshire Law Society is your Society, it is my Society, it is our Society. It is what we make it.

Unashamedly, I call on all members of the Society to get involved with the activities of the Society. Whether that involvement is social, challenging yourself to win one of our competitions, or taking a seat on one of the committees, it matters not. By involvement alone the Society grows and flourishes, remaining something we can all, rightfully, be fiercely proud of.

Best Wishes

                       Jason Waghorne