Around 6 months into his time as President of the Dorset Law Society (DLS), we managed to catch up with DLS President, James Braund, as part of the “Window into the Profession” initiative he has championed for 2023.
Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself please?
Of course! I live in the Wimborne area with my wife and son. I qualified as a solicitor back in 2009. I have worked in private practice in Dorset and Hampshire ever since. I joined the DLS Committee in around 2018 (having had my arm twisted by Paul Dunlop!) and have never looked back! Throughout the “Covid-19 years” I was the DLS’s Vice President and became President of the Society at the AGM in October 2022.
What exactly is the DLS?
The DLS was established in 1835 and is the professional body representing solicitors, trainee solicitors, chartered legal executives and all lawyers working for law firms in Dorset. The society offers services and support for members by providing a platform for firms to discuss common issues, promoting and marketing legal services, monitoring and reporting on developments in the law and the profession, and uniting members to help steer changes for members’ benefit.
The DLS is also an active member of the Southern Area Association of Law Societies (a collective group of 8 Southern Local Law Societies) and is represented on The (national) Law Society Council through its elected Council member (Peter Watson-Lee – who does a fantastic job!), shared with the Bournemouth and District Law Society.
Can you explain what this “Window into the Profession” initiative is and why you were so keen on the idea?
When I took up the mantle of President for the DLS, I was keen to look to bring things back to basics and (as well as the usual Annual Dinner and training / networking events) try to make sure that the DLS did what it could to promote the legal profession in Dorset. In my view, this is a big part of the role of a local law society. As a result, I came up with the idea of the “Window into the Profession” initiative, to take one week in the year and to use it to publish a number of daily articles increasing awareness of various aspects of being a lawyer in Dorset.
What does being the President of the DLS actually entail?
For a start, I attend and chair bi-monthly (sometimes monthly when there is a lot going on!) committee meetings. These meetings are where the key decisions are made regarding DLS plans for social events, training and other initiatives. Things can range from discussing matters to do with the annual dinner to formulating a collective response on a consultation on an important issue (such as the Solicitors Indemnity Fund). In addition, I liaise with sponsors, society members and other committee members on a regular basis to ensure things with the DLS progress, as well as preparing documentation for circulation (such as the quarterly newsletters).
I am very lucky to have such a great committee, who do a fantastic job in sharing the burden of getting things done for the DLS.
You have a day job too, right?
Yes! I am Partner at a firm called Trethowans, who have 2 offices in Dorset (Poole and Bournemouth). I specialise in Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence in claims and am also joint head of our Poole office.
What do you like about working as a solicitor in Dorset?
Where do I start?! It may sound cliché and rather obvious, but the location is simply beautiful. Its easier to find a good work-life balance if your surroundings lend itself to that. I can finish work and be either on the beach or deep in the Dorset countryside within half an hour. The other thing which helps is the people. I have had some great colleagues in Dorset and equally great clients! To top it off, the business (and legal community) in Dorset seems to be thriving and going from strength to strength.
This article was first published on 17 April 2023, by the Dorset Law Society, as part of its “Window into the Profession” initiative. Questions were posed by Hayley Stack and answered by James Braund.