Midlands sole practitioner Lubna Shuja has been inaugurated as the 178th, first Asian, first declared Muslim and seventh female president of the Law Society of England and Wales in its near 200-year history.

This is the first time in the Society’s history that it has had two consecutive women presidents. Shuja’s accession coincides with the centenary of the first woman – Carrie Morrison – being admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales.

Shuja, admitted in 1992, specialises in professional discipline and regulation. She also has experience in contested wills and probate, divorce, child access, personal injury and contractual disputes.

She said: ’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.’

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.’

Setting out five main priorities for her presidency, Shuja said: ’My plan focuses on improving the justice system, upholding the rule of law and supporting our members.

A major focus will be professional ethics, she said. ’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.’

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