Dean of the Dundee Faculty, Amanda Wilson, looks at how the idea of women taking up positions in local faculties was never envisaged as she reflects on their modern roles.
Whilst the Charter is not exactly a light read, I made some interesting observations whilst looking through it recently. Although it was last updated in 1955, references throughout the document are in the masculine form. Essentially “he” can only become a member of the Faculty if “he” holds a certain position within the legal community.
The same is true for the office bearers. Even as recently as 1955, it was clearly never anticipated that in 2018, all office bearers would be female – including the Dean. This is a trend which has been established in Dundee for over 20 years now and I am proud to follow in the footsteps of a number of previous female Deans.
Given that the Faculty is almost two hundred years old now, some might question whether local faculties still have a place in the legal profession in 2018. I think they do and believe that our Faculties still have an important role to play, particularly in these areas:
We are regularly asked to collate and represent the views of our members on topics affecting the profession. Most recently in relation to the Police Station Duty Scheme and the Review of Legal Aid. By having a Faculty, we are able to have a collective voice and be represented at a national level.
The Faculty serves as a bridge for communication between our members and other bodies, such as the Courts, the Law Society and SLAB. Members can feedback any issues that might arise and in turn, these bodies can communicate any important changes via the Faculty.
As the profession becomes more specialised and reliant on technology for communication, it is more important than ever that we have opportunities to get together in person and catch up socially. Annual faculty dinners and other events are a great way to do this.
Historically, Faculties established funds which could be used to help fellow solicitors and their families in times of need. Whilst that might not be as relevant today, it is still important for Faculties to give back to their local communities, which can be done by fundraising at social events.
Having been involved in our Faculty committee for the last six years, my experience has been that there is still an appetite for this sort of engagement with our members in Dundee. And whilst the Charter could arguably do with a revamp, I hope that the Faculty still exists in another two hundred years.