Lubna Shuja inaugurated as president of the Law Society

The Law Society of England and Wales has confirmed that Lubna Shuja was this week inaugurated as its 178th president, becoming the first Asian, first Muslim, and seventh female president of the Society.

This is the first time in the organisation’s 200-year history there will be two consecutive female presidents. What’s more, one of the first key events of Shuja’s tenure will be December’s 100-year anniversary of Carrie Morrison becoming the first female admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales in December 1922.

“I am honoured to serve as Law Society president. I take on the role at a difficult time for the legal profession. The rule of law has been in the spotlight as never before in recent history. The UK’s economy is on a knife-edge and businesses are having to deal with rising interest rates and high inflation,” said Shuja, continuing:

“If the pandemic has proven one thing, however, it is that solicitors are resilient and adaptable. They keep the wheels of justice turning by providing services remotely, innovating at pace and ensuring the public can get the justice they deserve.

My plan focuses on improving the justice system, upholding the rule of law and supporting our members.”

Who is Lubna Shuja?

Admitted as a solicitor in 1992, Lubna is a sole practitioner who specialises in professional discipline and regulation. She also has experience in contested wills and probate, divorce, child access, personal injury, and contractual disputes.

Lubna has been a Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) accredited mediator since 2005. She handles civil, family, probate, and commercial disputes.

Lubna has been a Law Society council member since 2013 and is also a member of the Law Society board. She was the inaugural chair of our membership and communications committee and a past chair of the strategic litigation committee.

A commitment to professional ethics

Shuja is launching a major focus on ethics in the profession, with the Law Society stating that behaving ethically is “at the heart of what it means to be a solicitor”. On this, Shuja said:

“Solicitors have integrity, are independent and abide by the laws democratically set by Parliament. They also have a role to play ensuring the UK government acts lawfully.

Solicitors’ primary duty is always to the court and they must act in the best interests of their client. Parts of the profession have been unfairly criticised in the past for representing their clients and doing their job. These criticisms have become more pronounced in recent years, directed at lawyers practising in areas as diverse as immigration and financial services.

As president, I intend to launch a major focus on ethics in the profession to support solicitors though this minefield. This will help the public to understand the finely balanced professional ethical issues solicitors weigh up on a daily basis to ensure the rule of law is upheld.”

Educating the public

Shuja plans to actively talk about justice, the solicitor profession, and why they are important to the public, pointing out:

“The rule of law is vital to society and democracy. I strongly believe the public should know more about what it does for them and why it is important in their day-to-day lives.

Amid the cost-of-living crisis, the public must be able to easily access early legal advice, support and representation.”

Improving diversity across the profession and judiciary

The Society said Shuja will continue to work on improving diversity, social mobility, and social inclusion in the profession, with Shuja adding:

“I am the first Asian, first Muslim and only the seventh female president of the Law Society. I am a Northerner, originally from Bradford, and I am from a working-class background. Diversity, social mobility and social inclusion are very important to me.

I want to understand better the barriers that firms and businesses are facing when trying to reach and promote diverse candidates as well as identify the challenges facing those seeking to enter and progress through the sector.

More must also be done to achieve true gender parity in terms of pay and progression.”

She continued:

“We will also continue to support members seeking to become judges as well as those wishing to progress to the senior ranks of the judiciary.

We must work on promoting alternative careers, including pathways to becoming a judge and progressing in the judiciary. I will work with our Solicitor Judges Network, the Ministry of Justice, senior judges and other stakeholders to further open up the judicial ladder.”

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