AGM and Annual Report – “technology and connection” at the fore From the AGM

ADLS held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Wednesday 14 March 2018. It was a chance to celebrate a year, not only of technological innovation, but also of increased connection with practitioners across the country, with 44% of members now residing outside of the Auckland area.

Jo Pidgeon

Joanna Pidgeon reflected on some of the highlights of her first year as President of ADLS as well as what the year ahead holds for the Society, focussing on the dual themes of “technology and connection”.

“It has been exciting to have our first online AGM, allowing our members throughout the country to attend either in person or online. This reflects trends in CPD which see practitioners taking advantage of the opportunity to view CPD from their desktop, and our continued investment in WebForms with the launch of our secure digital signing platform,” she noted.

“In just over three months, the AML/CFT legislation will be in force, and we have delivered practical CPD and guidance to assist practitioners with its implementation as this legislation will change the way we engage with and work with our clients. We are also currently reviewing our forms generally to deal with the Land Transfer Act 2017, as well as ensuring the Sale and Purchase Agreement is up-to-date with current issues and case law,” Ms Pidgeon continued.

Ms Pidgeon reiterated ADLS’ commitment to supporting young lawyers and women in the profession through our younger lawyer and student buddy programmes, Newly Suited Committee, and CPD.

“The legal profession has been in the headlines recently for the wrong reasons. Young lawyers are 22% of our membership, and we are committed to supporting them in both their entry into the profession, and to ensure that it is a profession that they wish to remain part of. We will be announcing a new initiative shortly to assist firms and chambers to have harassment- and bullying-free workplaces.”

A motion to rotate ADLS’ auditors this year was passed, as part of Council’s ongoing commitment to good governance practice.

Ms Pidgeon concluded by tendering a vote of thanks to ADLS’ Committees, Council, membership and staff for all of their efforts and support, making special mention of Vice President Marie Dyhrberg QC and CEO Sue Keppel.

Highlights from the Annual Report

Branding

2017 saw the launch of a modernised and refreshed brand for ADLS, centred on our vision of “connecting New Zealand lawyers”. The new branding and tag line – “Connecting New Zealand Lawyers” – have been positively received by members and reflect our values as a modernised, inclusive Society, while also building on our significant heritage. Not only our logo and look, but our entire external and internal communications have been updated – from LawNews to CPD emails, social media and our website.

Membership

Growing the ADLS membership base has been a standout feature again this year. ADLS membership has now reached over 4,400 legal professionals from all over the country. 44% of our membership now resides outside the Auckland region, compared to 41% last year. 20% of our new members were young lawyers – an indication of ADLS’ relevance for the future of the legal profession. Our successful university law school programmes also attracted high numbers of new student members. We have also commenced a project to update our member database and communications systems, to provide us with an even greater understanding of the needs of our members.

WebForms

The new Digital Signing Service in WebForms, developed and launched in 2017, is a significant step forward. The solution delivered by ADLS is tailor-made for the legal profession and at the forefront of technological advancement, as well as having the potential to be used by other sectors in the future. Already it is bringing a new level of efficiency to the relationship between lawyers and their clients. In the coming year, WebForms will be further enhanced as we work through our planned strategy of innovation.

Collegiality

ADLS has increased our collegiality events programme, offering more lunches around the country and significantly expanding our young lawyer events – both of which will continue to be a focus over the coming year.

The ADLS Newly Suited Committee created a fresh events programme this year, providing opportunities for younger lawyers to network with more senior members of the profession. Highlights included the inaugural “Meet the QCs” evening in Auckland, followed up by a “Meet the Judiciary and QCs” evening in Christchurch, and a number of other events, including events on wellness and technology.

Key relationships and media engagement

ADLS values our relationship with the Real Estate Institute of New Zealand and looks forward to continuing to strengthen it in the coming year. Building ties with Government also remains a priority, as we make our voice heard regarding new legislation and the work of the legal profession. Our cocktail party with the Attorney-General at the Northern Club was a key event in 2017, and similar events are scheduled in 2018.

ADLS’ media engagement programme continued in 2016/17. ADLS is seen as a trusted source of expertise and opinion, commenting on issues such as the challenges faced by women in the workforce, advice for building successful careers, bodies corporate, apartment ownership, commercial property, and concerns about the property market. ADLS will continue to comment on issues that are important for the legal community and the wider public.

CPD

ADLS continues to set the standard in CPD, with its provision of an extensive learning and development programme and the use of innovative new technologies for CPD delivery. The introduction of a new, more efficient platform for accessing our online CPD On Demand service this year has led to an increase in participation in this area.

Some very successful CPD events were held around the country, including a “Practical Commentary on Running Employment Cases” seminar in Tauranga, our Cradle to Grave Conference 2017 in both Christchurch and Auckland, and the “Leading Your Career” workshop series (run in conjunction with Miriam Dean QC and Catapult Leadership Training) taking place in Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland.

Thanks are due to the CPD Committee, presenters and chairs, without whom our CPD programme would not be possible.

Committees

Our Committees continue to work hard on submissions, articles and other initiatives in their specialist areas of law, as well as promoting the interests of members of the wider profession. Two new ADLS Committees got underway in 2017 – the Newly Suited Committee (mentioned above), and the ADLS Trust Law Committee. A new Anti-Money Laundering Special Committee was set up to assist practitioners as they come to grips with the new requirements.

Communications

LawNews maintains its position as a relevant, topical, key publication for the New Zealand legal profession, as evidenced by ongoing strong support from contributors, authors and advertisers. Total subscriber numbers rose, with 36% electing to receive LawNews digitally each week. This significant shift to the digital version reflects an increasing trend towards digital media, especially on the part of younger legal professionals. ADLS’ Monday Bulletin similarly continues in a strong vein, with subscriber numbers to its weekly email update remaining constant.

Connecting with ADLS social media channels is proving to be increasingly popular. Followers of the ADLS LinkedIn page grew 50% over the year, while followers of the ADLS “Newly Suited” Young Lawyers’ Facebook page grew by 33%.

A copy of the Annual Report is available to members on MYADLS.

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