This year’s Conference was a particular success, thanks mainly to the former Chair Will Richmond-Coggan, who put in considerable effort to draw together the straws of the conference and make it a success. The Keynote speech was given by the Rt Hon Lord Justice Vos, the current Chancellor of the High Court. He reminded us that as the Chair of the Bar, he had been a friend of SAHCA and has sought equal opportunities for all advocates before the Courts. We were fortunate to have both him and Lord Justice Hickinbottom, the association’s Hon. President, in attendance to support the day, and showing the continuing interest that the senior judiciary has in solicitor advocacy.
We then heard from numerous others on a range of subjects from pro bono work (Donny Surtani of Herbert Smith Freehills) to the Scottish practice of solicitor advocacy from long-standing friend of the association, Craig Connal QC of Pinsent Masons. We had talks from the SRA and HMCTS about their current initiatives that impact on our members. In the afternoon we moved on to panel discussions of various issues picking up themes from the morning. These covered topics such as legal aid reform, QC and JAC appointments for solicitors and the challenges and opportunities that are offered by new technology. The day was thoroughly enjoyable and SAHCA collected a lot of valuable feedback from our members, in the energetic morning sessions and in the more in depth panel discussions in the afternoon, which we are carefully considering so that we can shape the association’s mission and objectives over the coming year.
The day, which also included the launch of our inaugural student advocacy competition, attracted a lot of attention on social media and in the traditional press. Max Walters from the Law Society Gazette attended the day. Click here to view his article from the Gazette and his fuller report here. The conference achieved its purpose of kick-starting a range of discussions on topics that are of real importance to our members, but those discussions are carrying on and we look forward to hearing from you all about the things you care about in the coming weeks and months.