Cardiff & District Law Society (CDLS) has elected its new president and council members for 2023/2024, while celebrating a number of diversity ‘firsts’ for the largest regional law society in Wales.
Commercial Disputes Solicitor Clare Good, a Senior Associate at Capital Law, is the new CDLS President for the year ahead, becoming the society’s youngest ever president in its 130-year history.
She is joined by Trish D’Souza (Blake Morgan), the Vice President and the first Legal Director to join the CDLS leadership team, and Emma Waddingham (Legal News Wales) who becomes the first ‘non-lawyer’ to be elected as Junior Vice President. All three have sat on the regional law society’s council for a number of years.
At the recent CDLS Annual General Meeting and the new council’s first meeting held on 4th December, Clare cited mental wellbeing, social mobility and equality and inclusion as key campaign topics for her year.
On election, Clare shared her personal experience of entering the legal profession as a first-generation university graduate and overcoming mental health challenges which led to a delay in her studies.
It’s an honour to be voted in as President of Cardiff & District Law society for the next 12 months, and especially as I am the youngest President the Society has ever had. I am still technically a junior lawyer (until April at least), so I am very grateful that the Society has put its trust in me.
“I didn’t have a traditional route into law – there are no lawyers in my family, I am first generation university and I come from a very small village in rural Somerset. I had to work two jobs to be fund the GDL and LPC. I also suffered from an eating disorder when I was a teenager, and it is something that is still difficult to talk about. But I want to try and break that barrier down. It is no surprise then, that one of my main objectives for the year is to work on removing the stigma of mental health within the profession, and society generally.
“I honestly think that creating truly open cultures, where people feel they can speak about how they are really feeling, will make a huge difference in the push to create a healthy profession. I hope that me being so open about my experience will encourage others to do the same.”
CDLS Vice President, D’Souza, outlined her commitment to support the CDLS President’s causes, and explained how her initiatives will continue to build before stepping into the president role in November 2024.
At the 2023 AGM, she said:
“As Vice-President and also Chair of our newly titled ‘Ethnicity Network’, I am proactively seeking volunteers from across the local legal sector to join our mentoring scheme to help mentor the next generation of lawyers: law students from each of the three Universities within the Cardiff area. We aim to match a local legal professional with a student to enable them to initiate a mentoring relationship that also ensures that the legal professional is reverse mentored about the experiences and pressures that students face today in terms of gaining access to the profession.
“We encourage our members, law firms and in-house legal teams to participate to help ensure that the next generation learn about the wonderful and diverse career opportunities in the local legal sector.”
Building a diverse workforce and supporting employers will also play a significant role in Clare’s year, as she aims to collaborate with other professions to explore what a truly diverse, truly equal and truly happy workforce looks like.
“It is easy to look at the statistics of women in law (64% of NQs are now women) and think that we have equality. Unfortunately, that is not the case, especially when you look at the statistics for partners (still only 35% are women).”
She added that CDLS continues to pave the way for equality, diversity and inclusion in the legal sector in Wales and hopes that ‘tireless’ work of existing council members continues to inspire more professionals to join and benefit from the society’s work and voice. She said that for this to happen, CDLS must continue to reflect the legal profession across the board.
New members to the CDLS Council for 2023/2024 include the first British Pakistani lawyer to be elected to an officer role: family lawyer, Aysha Chouhdary (Geldards). Marwa Abdullah – an Law Undergraduate at Cardiff University – is the new Administrator for the Society.
After a successful year as President, Jenine Abdo (Hutton’s Law) is the new Immediate Past President and will now take her full maternity leave, having recently given birth to her third child.
The CDLS charities of the year are Mental Health Research UK and Cardiff Dogs Home. CDLS has already put plans in place for events and fundraisers, the first of which will be held with Cardiff Dogs Home on Sunday 21st January. Details to be announced on the CDLS website soon.