Running a law society

Student law societies vary drastically in what they offer. Some may simply provide a social adjunct to studies; others may offer a variety of provisions to complement them. Whether you’re in the early stages of creating a fledgeling society or inheriting a presidency within an established society, here are some top tips to making it work.

  • Last updated Jun 26, 2019 1:15:31 PM
  • Ben Chapman and Tuula Petersen

Make membership worthwhile

A society would be nothing without the support of its members. In order to draw in fellow students and retain their interest over the course of the academic year, it’s important to keep the society fresh and exciting. There are many ways in which you can achieve this, but most obviously this can be done by organising a variety of events throughout the year that appeal to different demographics of students.

Members will most likely expect a host of career-related events, such as industry talks, panel events and workshops. Organising socials is another excellent opportunity to promote a friendly environment and encourage members to form friendships.

Treat the role professionally

Running a society is no walk in the park. On the contrary, it requires time and dedication, and the willingness to approach the role in a professional manner. Many students rely on the law society to provide them with a kick-start in their legal careers, which is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. Performing poorly as a law society could have a detrimental effect on your members’ career prospects after graduating.

Members will expect certain actions from the society in exchange for the membership and event fees. You need to shape your society as a provider of a service rather than just a whimsical entity providing occasional sources of distraction from studies. You hold a legal responsibility for the money entrusted to the society—as well as a professional duty to deliver content, workshops, events and activities to those who have paid.

Set the ground rules from the start

Remember, what might seem obvious to you may not be so obvious to other members of the committee. Everyone has a different way of dealing with matters as well as different degrees of professionalism. Make sure that standardised rules and expectations are explicitly clear from the beginning. Make sure that there are no excuses for acting out of line and that there’s footing for disciplinary procedures should something arise. To add to this, formulating a clear and concise code of conduct will benefit future committees of the law society for years to come.

Be prepared to live a double life

Running a committee while balancing your other commitments, such as your academic work and social life, can be challenging to get to grips with. You may find yourself overwhelmed by the responsibility and the required administrative tasks. As a result, one of the main takeaways from running a law society will be the ability to effectively separate academic and social life.

Something else to be aware of will be your ability to distinguish between your role running the society and your friendship with the committee and society members. At least once over the course of the year, you’re bound to run into a disagreement over the organisation of the society with your fellow committee members. It’s during such situations that you should remember the role you play in the society and argue your case accordingly in a professional manner, setting aside your friendships and allegiances.

Don't get above yourself

It’s essential to remember you’re providing a service for all your members. More often than not, these members are likely to turn to the committee or to you for guidance and advice. Try to answer any of their queries to the best of your ability or alternatively refer them to someone whom you’re aware has a better knowledge and understanding of the matter at hand. You can also use this opportunity to develop your communication and interpersonal skills.

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