I wish to acknowledge the immense contribution of those who have previously served in this office of President of the Law Society, particularly Mr Thomas So who has immediately preceded me.
They have contributed in various ways over the years to enhance the ability of the Law Society to fulfil its important role as the professional body of the solicitors’ branch of the legal profession. The path has not been easy. There have been challenges to the core values of the legal profession, open acts amounting to an affront of the Rule of Law and rapid changes to the practice environment that intensify competition in the legal service market.
I enter the Presidency with a sense of humility, humbled by the tasks ahead. Nevertheless, building on the strong foundation laid by my predecessors, I am confident that with the united strength of our membership, we will not only transcend any present difficulties but will also realise all future possibilities that benefit our profession.
In alignment with the Council’s policy direction and continuing the good work of my predecessors, during my presidency, I will strive to ensure that we meet the expectation of our members and indeed the public that as a representative organisation of the solicitors’ profession, we remain an apolitical organisation and continue to carry a strong voice in matters of public concern that touch on the Rule of Law.
I will also continue to lead Law Society efforts in promoting Hong Kong legal services, in particular in the Belt and Road Region and the Great Bay Area. I am fortunate to have close connections with law associations in LAWASIA as its Vice President. I will work on facilitating collaboration opportunities with law associations in the ASEAN countries that are the priority jurisdictions in the development of the Belt and Road Initiative. Further, having been the Chair of the Greater China Legal Affairs Committee for almost 2 years, I have been deeply involved in the Law Society work with various Lawyers’ Associations in the Mainland and Taiwan. With such hands-on experience, I will continue to explore ways to further expand the legal services market for our members in the Great Bay Area.
The evolution of the legal landscape has been moving at an unprecedentedly fast pace. A major factor leading to this phenomenon is the rapid advancement in technology. On the other hand, the Law Society encourages our members to embrace technology and to move with the times. Nevertheless, the legal profession is a heavily regulated profession. The management of law firms and the way a solicitor practises are all governed by strict professional ethical and practice rules. To support our members to take advantage of technology, we will ensure that the rules and regulations are updated appropriately to enable them to utilise technology to improve their services to clients but without compromising in any way the protection of public interests. I will make this task a priority during my term.
The legal profession is a self-regulatory profession. The costs of regulation, which are borne by the profession itself, are increasing. In 2016, the Law Society had incurred substantial costs in exercising its statutory power to intervene into the practices of four law firms. While studying different ways to raise members’ awareness of risk management and the importance of law firm supervision, the Law Society has also implemented various measures on cost control to ensure that the Law Society’s financial position is sound and stable to fulfil its statutory regulatory duties. This is another area that requires much work to be done.
I have been actively involved in the work of the Law Society’s Pro Bono Committee which is an area that is very dear to my heart. I will continue to support the offer of structured pro bono and community work opportunities for members to give back to the community while making sure at the same time that the profession’s generosity is not exploited in the process to its own detriment.
I am deeply honoured to be the first woman President of the Law Society and I will continue to promote gender diversity. Not only will I reach out to the women lawyers of our profession, but I will also continue to listen to and address the specific needs of our diverse membership including the more junior members as well as those working as in-house lawyers who comprise a significant proportion of our profession.
Unity is strength. I sincerely invite members to share with me, at any time, your views in shaping our future. Working together on the principles of respect, inclusiveness and equality, I am confident that we will articulate a strong voice that is representative of our profession and that is capable of making a difference for the benefit of all.