Jonathan Smith (JS) and Brogan Solomon (BS) have been on the JLD executive committee for two years. Here they answer questions about what motivated them to apply to join the committee and how they have valued the opportunity to represent their peers.
1. Why did you apply to join the JLD committee?
JS: I was on the JLD national committee (as a representative for the Newcastle and North East JLD) and really enjoyed national committee meetings. I chatted to members of the executive committee and really liked how passionate they were about the JLD and the sound of the work they were doing in regards to consultation responses and arranging events for junior lawyers. Being passionate about the JLD, I saw applying for the exec committee as the next logical step.
BS: I had attended some of the JLD national committee meetings (as a representative for Suffolk & North Essex JLD) and really enjoyed them. I was keen to get more involved and to represent junior lawyers
2. What sort of projects did you get involved with?
JS: Quite a few, for example:
- I’ve been involved with consultation responses (both sole and group efforts but always well supported by the JLD chair and vice chair),
- helped to organise trainee and junior lawyer forums ie full day skills events,
- was the JLD representative on the Law Society London Pride planning committee and attended the event itself,
- represented the JLD at the European Young Bar Association (EYBA) summer conference in Dusseldorf,
- helped organise and attending our annual JLD conference and ball.
BS: Recently I have done a lot of work on the mental wellbeing side of things. I sit on the LawCare and Law Society mental wellbeing taskforce as the rep for junior lawyers. The task force is intended to be a cross profession group looking at how we can improve the wellbeing of those in the profession. We are currently looking at funding some research into this. I have really enjoyed working on this as I know it is something that affects lawyers of all levels and in various different degrees be it small bouts of anxiety to addiction and mental health problems.
3. What have you enjoyed most about being on the committee?
JS: The friendships I’ve made on the executive committee and the new people I’ve got to meet through being on committee. Being on the committee and attending events you get to meet some fantastic people from all over the world. My contact base (both lawyers and non-lawyers) has definitely grown.
BS: Meeting new people – not only those on the executive but those that sit on the national committees and those that just come along to the events. I like speaking with people who are experiencing the profession from different locations, different specialisms and different types of firm. It is important to remember that changes to the profession and the way it is carried out affect all different type of lawyers be it high street or city firms. You also get some great perks – last year we got to attend the Queen’s celebration for the Magna Carta 800 year anniversary.
4. What advice would you give to anyone considering applying for a position at this year’s election?
JS: Do it!! I was worried about the time commitment with me just qualifying and being Newcastle-based (so travelling to London for meetings) but it has been absolutely fine. Work is shared up between the committee and it’s a real team effort with great support from other committee members and the chair and vice chair. You’ll make great friendships, get to meet interesting people and help fight for your fellow junior lawyers cause.
BS: Absolutely do it. You do have to be prepared to commit some of your free time but it is great fun and everyone is really supportive so the load is never too much.
5. How has being on the JLD committee helped you on a professional level?
JS: My network of contacts has grown significantly since joining the committee. It’s been really helpful to build contacts in different areas of law and different territories. Being on the JLD has been a great talking point at networking events and has allowed me to keep up to date with developments in such things as new routes to qualification etc. which I’ve been able to relay to my firm. It’s also been really good practice for public speaking- which made my recent ‘best man’ duties far less stressful!
BS: I have met lots of new people and increased my network hugely. Not just at a junior level either. I also have a much better understanding of the profession now and how far reaching it is. It is also great for enhancing your public speaking and writing skills.
6. What next for you in terms of engagement with the profession?
JS: I will miss being on the committee massively and will definitely need something to fill the void. I would like to continue my involvement with the Law Society and would consider applying for a place on another divisional committee, such as the new LGBT Division.
BS: I don’t know yet. I would like to carry on working on the wellbeing side of things as I think it is such an important issue.