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Chair’s Foreword

As I write this, standing at the gate of the year (as someone once said), I realise that by the time you read it ‘foreword’ will virtually be ‘afterword’. At the end of May 2015 I will complete my term of office as the first Chair of ILEX Professional Standards Ltd.

It has been a long and tremendous journey. Back in 2008 we could see so many things we wanted to do, but had in mind the overriding prize of securing the rights of independent practice which had long been overdue for legal executives. That was not something we could achieve in one jump so, keeping that strategic aim firmly in mind, we set about identifying the steps we needed to take in order to get there, and setting down clear priorities for the order in which we would take them.

First we built a diverse, cohesive Board, putting in place sound governance arrangements to direct and measure our own performance, and firm foundations for collaboration with CILEx. Then we reviewed and modernised our procedures for dealing with allegations of misconduct by CILEx members, and published a new, streamlined Code of Conduct, with a central headline statement covering all the essential principles of ethical conduct in around a hundred words.

Next was an overhaul of the process for achieving CILEx Fellowship, allowing us to tighten arrangements which had become diffuse. That gave us confidence, when CILEx secured its Royal Charter, that we had a sound foundation for admitting individuals to what is now chartered status. And IPS played its own part in the achievement of the Charter, underlining decisively, to the satisfaction of the Privy Council, that CILEx centres firmly on the public interest.

Most recently, the endorsement of the IPS/CILEx approach by the independent Legal Education and Training Review was a big encouragement, leading others consciously to imitate what we have been doing for years. The overdue Quality Assurance Scheme for Advocates – no big deal for CILEx advocates, although apparently terrifying to some others – is finally stuttering into life. And our radical overhaul of requirements for continuing professional development is now being tested in real life. Those who attended our roadshow meetings around the country were largely reassured that something which is different need not be frightening, is likely to be beneficial in business terms, and might even be fun.

Much of this has represented significant change for CILEx and its members. It is to their credit, individually and collectively, that they have gone

Professional standards for specialist lawyers 3

forward with mainly good grace, recognising that this has been a time of rapid progress, development and opportunity for their professional group. I take this final occasion to express my sincere appreciation of the good humoured welcomes I have had at all times and in all places throughout my time with you.

2014 was perhaps a time for setting the seal on our achievements to date, drawing breath, reflecting on where we have come and … waiting. Waiting patiently for the Parliamentary process to take its majestic course in order to give us lawful authority to award rights of independent practice to individuals and – as the year turns – for us to start to regulate legal businesses. Again we had immense support from the members of both Houses of Parliament who took the time to appreciate both what we are trying to do and the rightness of the changes we proposed. While their debates were never contentious and never – I am delighted to say – party political, nothing is done till it is done and it was a fine Christmas present to know that everything was now in place for the new system.

Underpinning our every success has been the exceptionally strong and cordial relationship we have had throughout with CILEx, as the professional leadership body, and with its governing Council. On a personal level I have enjoyed excellent working relationships with the eight successive CILEx Presidents alongside whom I have served. None of this happened by magic – no good relationship ever happens without solid and sustained hard work – but the achievements of the CILEx Group bear witness to the common vision we captured. We have been rewarded by the total absence of the kind of enervating conflict that has seriously inhibited progress in some other places.

There are many farewells for me to say, and time enough for that during the coming year. Sufficient for now, perhaps, is for me to remind IPS, CILEx and the world that -

We are made wise not by the

recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future. George Bernard Shaw

Alan Kershaw Chairman

The great pleasure in life is doing things people say you cannot do.

Walter Bagehot

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