One of the UK’s most prominent lawyers, Dame Linda Dobbs, last night presented a lecture at London South Bank University (LSBU) to an assembled crowd of students and legal professionals about the changing legal landscape and the resultant challenges and opportunities facing the legal profession.
Dame Linda presented her lecture, entitled The Changing Legal Landscape, as part of LSBU’s Inspired by Law: a gallery of and for inspiring lawyers series which recognises inspiring student-nominated lawyers for their dedication to human rights, the rule of law and social justice both nationally and internationally.
In her address Dame Linda described changes to the legal landscape from a practical and practitioner’s point of view, highlighting the impact of change for aspiring law students, current professionals and legal institutions who will all face new roles and demands in the future.
Dame Linda said that there was no doubt that the legal profession was changing, drawing attention to the rise of global law firms and cuts to legal aid, which present new challenges to lawyers working in smaller city firms where more fee-paying work must now be undertaken.
Dame Linda also suggested that conventional lawyers will not be as commonplace in the future as they are now, due to increasing demand for bespoke lawyers in specialist areas.
LSBU Dean of Law and Social Sciences, Craig Barker said the opportunity to hear first-hand from some of the most important people in the legal profession was invaluable for students.
“The general view, thanks to popular culture, of lawyers representing or prosecuting criminals in a courtroom is rarely what being a lawyer all is about. In fact, that’s only what a small number of lawyers do,” he said.
“We want to expand people’s perceptions of the law and help them understand the good that lawyers can do, especially in the areas of humanitarian and human rights law.
“Our goal is to instil in our students a strong sense of social justice which they will then carry into their careers as legal professionals and exposing them to inspiring people like Dame Linda Dobbs is part of that.”
The lecture follows on from last year’s inaugural Inspired by Law gallery, which saw 11 inspirational lawyers recognised by students at LSBU.
Several of the world’s leading lawyers, including Professor Akua Kuenyehia, Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, Diana Nammi and Baroness Helena Kennedy QC attended the event to accept their awards and to talk to students and others about their work. This will be annual event with the next scheduled awards ceremony in November 2016.
Dame Linda Dobbs was recognised for her services to encouraging the advancement of diversity in the judiciary and the legal professions. Dame Linda was a barrister practising criminal law, is an editor of Archbold a leading text on criminal practice and she has been involved in the training of lawyers and judges for over 20 years both nationally and internationally.
In 2004 she was appointed as the first non-white High Court Judge, she stated at the time, “Whilst this appointment might be seen as casting me into the role of standard bearer, I am simply a practitioner following a career path. I am confident, nevertheless, that I am the first of many to come.”
She is committed to equality and diversity and has, both at the Bar and then on the bench as senior liaison judge for diversity, encouraged and supported aspirant lawyers and judges from diverse backgrounds. She has been nominated as one of Britain’s 10 most powerful black women and one of the 100 Great Black Britons list.
She has recently retired from the High Court. Dame Linda actively continues to promote diversity in the legal profession and the judiciary, encouraging students from all backgrounds. She is also an ADR Group accredited mediator and is on their international training faculty.