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Since that nerve wracking time in 2009 when first I put myself forward for election to the Law Society of Ireland Council, I have met and worked with some of the most amazing people. As a Council Member, I have contributed to discussions, chaired working groups, attended awards ceremonies and have represented the Law Society of Ireland at events and functions both at home and abroad. Above all, I have learnt so much.
One day in 2013, I was approached and asked if I would consider accepting a three year appointment as one of the Law Society’s two Trustees for LawCare.
I seem to remember that I was recovering from a particularly horrible fall at the time, but not wanting a little thing like crutches and a leg brace to interfere with anything, I accepted the appointment and embarked on a journey into the as yet unfamiliar, world of LawCare.
An avalanche of information was to follow! I made contact with my co-trustee for Ireland, the hard working and unfailing LawCare supporter, Louise Campbell, who was responsible for the avalanche – in the nicest possible way! Through her, I slowly but surely came to learn about this wonderful Charity.
I learnt about the Volunteers who give of their time willingly to manage the Helpline; I learnt about our colleagues who might have no other port of call in a crisis, were it not for those volunteers, and I learnt about the quarterly Board Meetings which usually take place in London, and I prepared to attend my first one which was in the following Spring.
I remember wondering what it would be like, and what would the other Trustees think of me!
They all knew each other and I was the new kid on the block, which was an unusual position in which to find myself.
Well, I needn’t have worried, a nicer gathering of people, I could not have met. I was welcomed and felt accepted immediately. At the time of my appointment, the then Chief Executive, Hillary Tilby, was about to retire, and a new Chief Executive, Elizabeth Rimmer, was appointed soon afterwards.
What became immediately clear to me very early on in my term as Trustee, was that caller numbers to the Irish Helpline were remarkably low compared to our counterparts in the UK, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Good news you might say, confirming the lack of need among Irish practitioners for help in the form of a Helpline. Or was the communication of LawCare’s message the issue?
Louise and I, along with the LawCare co-ordinator for Ireland, Mary Jackson, and Elizabeth Rimmer, as well as a whole team of people drawn from the many relevant departments of the Law Society, sat around a table one sunny October day and we brainstormed for a few hours. We looked at all sorts of things, including communication methods, the complimentary services already available and, importantly, LawCare’s message.
We had only one goal in mind: not ever should any of our legal colleagues or their staff or their family fail to receive the help and support they needed, because the LawCare message had failed to reach them.
Slowly but surely, we are achieving this goal.
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