This website uses cookies

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience. By using our website, you agree to our Privacy Policy

Suzanne Townley

News Editor, Solicitors Journal

Law Society inaugurates first Asian and first Muslim president

Law Society inaugurates first Asian and first Muslim president


The new president said she will focus on five main priorites during her tenure

History was made yesterday (12 October 2022) when Lubna Shuja (pictured) was inaugurated as the 178th, first Asian, first Muslim and seventh female president of the Law Society of England and Wales. It was also the first time in the organisation’s history there has been two consecutive women presidents.

Shuja’s accession is especially significant as the profession will this year celebrate 100 years since the first woman – Carrie Morrison – was admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales in December 1922.

Admitted as a solicitor in 1992, Shuja is a sole practitioner who specialises in professional discipline and regulation. She is also experienced in contested wills and probate, divorce, child access, personal injury and contractual disputes.

Shuja has been a Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) accredited mediator since 2005 and handles civil, family, probate and commercial disputes.

She has been a Law Society council member since 2013 and is also a member of the Law Society board. She was the inaugural chair of its membership and communications committee and a past chair of our strategic litigation committee. 

Shuja commented: “I am honoured to serve as Law Society president. I take on the role at a difficult time for the legal profession. The rule of law has been in the spotlight as never before in recent history. The UK’s economy is on a knife-edge and businesses are having to deal with rising interest rates and high inflation.

“If the pandemic has proven one thing, however, it is that solicitors are resilient and adaptable. They keep the wheels of justice turning by providing services remotely, innovating at pace and ensuring the public can get the justice they deserve.”

Shuja said her enthusiasm for the profession will drive her five main priorities. “My plan focuses on improving the justice system, upholding the rule of law and supporting our members.”

Lubna is also set to launch a major focus on ethics in the profession, as she said a commitment to ethical behaviour is at the heart of what it means to be a solicitor. “Solicitors have integrity, are independent and abide by the laws democratically set by Parliament. They also have a role to play ensuring the UK government acts lawfully.

“Solicitors’ primary duty is always to the court and they must act in the best interests of their client. Parts of the profession have been unfairly criticised in the past for representing their clients and doing their job. These criticisms have become more pronounced in recent years, directed at lawyers practising in areas as diverse as immigration and financial services.

“As president, I intend to launch a major focus on ethics in the profession to support solicitors though this minefield. This will help the public to understand the finely balanced professional ethical issues solicitors weigh up on a daily basis to ensure the rule of law is upheld,” she said.

 Lubna also plans to actively talk about justice, the solicitor profession and why they are important to the public. She explained: “The rule of law is vital to society and democracy. I strongly believe the public should know more about what it does for them and why it is important in their day-to-day lives.

“Amid the cost-of-living crisis, the public must be able to easily access early legal advice, support and representation.”

 The new president will also continue to work on improving diversity, social mobility and social inclusion in the profession. She commented: “I am the first Asian, first Muslim and only the seventh female president of the Law Society. I am a Northerner, originally from Bradford, and I am from a working-class background. Diversity, social mobility and social inclusion are very important to me”.

Shuja said she wanted to “understand better” the barriers that firms and businesses face when trying to reach and promote diverse candidates, as well as identify the challenges faced by those who seek to enter and progress through the sector.

“More must also be done to achieve true gender parity in terms of pay and progression. 2022 is a landmark year for me and for women solicitors. I will celebrate 30 years as a solicitor in the same month that we mark 100 years since the first woman was admitted as a solicitor in England and Wales,” she said. 

“We have seen real progress in diversity in the sector in that time, but there is still more to do. We will also continue to support members seeking to become judges as well as those wishing to progress to the senior ranks of the judiciary.

“We must work on promoting alternative careers, including pathways to becoming a judge and progressing in the judiciary. I will work with our Solicitor Judges Network, the Ministry of Justice, senior judges and other stakeholders to further open up the judicial ladder,” Shuja concluded.