Society of Labour Lawyers at Labour Party Conference 2022

The Society of Labour Lawyers attended our busiest Labour Party Conference yet! 

We organised 5 of our own events, contributed to a further 3 and met lots of enthusiastic party members whilst manning the Socialist Society stall.

Flagship event, in partnership with The Law Society and Bar Council

We were delighted to once again partner with The Law Society and Bar Council on our flagship conference event. 

This year Catherine Atkinson (Society of Labour Layers Chair) was joined on the panel by Lubna Shuja (Vice President, The Law Society) and Mark Fenhalls KC (Chair, Bar Council). From the Shadow Justice team we were also joined by: Steve Reed MP, Emily Thornberry MP, Ellie Reeves MP, and Afzal Kahn MP, as well as the outgoing Chair of the Criminal Bar Association, Jo Sidh KC. 

The event tackled the increasing pressing question: “The Erosion of Justice: Crumbling Courts, Legal Aid and Respect for the Law”. 

Many of the speakers highlighted that justice needs to be one of Labour’s top priorities in the manifesto and the pressing need for urgent funding throughout the Criminal Justice system. Sweeping cuts to legal aid is having a detrimental effect for vulnerable people, who now have to represent themselves in court, as both Lubna Shuja and Afzal Kahn explained, describing the system as “on its knees”. Mark Fenhalls KC focussed on the court backlogs, and how, in order to find a solution, we must be imaginative in our response. Jo Sidhu KC raised the crucial point that junior criminal barristers are earning an average wage of £6.25 per hour; far below the minimum wage. 

As well as highlighting the current problems within the justice system, the panel also highlighted what changes a Labour Government would make, from rolling out specialist rape courts to hiring more trained trauma specialists. Both Ellie Reeves MP and Emily Thornberry MP pressed that these issues cannot be tackled without a fresh Government, who cares about the Justice system and the Rule of Law.


Trade & EU group event, in partnership with the Musicans’ Union and Labour Business

The Trade & EU group at the Society of Labour Lawyers hosted a discussion with Stephen Kinnock MP on: ‘A better relationship with the EU that delivers for UK people and business’. This event focussed on how current trade and immigration provisions are impacting small businesses across the UK and the arts sector, and the practical steps a Labour Government could take.

Family, Immigration and Crime group event, in partnership with Liberty Law Solicitors

The Society of Labour Lawyers family, immigration and crime groups were joined by Alexandria Walsh (Team Manager, Barnardo’s Independent Child Trafficking Guardianship and the Shadow Minister for Immigration, Stephen Kinnock MP. 

The panel highlighted the important topic of trafficked children and asked whether the current government and opposition are doing enough to prevent such trafficking from occurring. 

Speakers highlighted how children are often left to struggle through a labyrinthine system, with the Government taking “deeply retrograde” steps across legislation. 

Violence Against Women and Girls group event, in partnership with Women’s Aid.

Our Violence Against Women and Girls specialist, Deeba Syed, chaired the standing-room only event and was joined by Jess Phillips MP, Ellie Reeves MP, Farah Nazeer (Women’s Aid) and Andrea Simon (End Violence Against Women Coalition). The discussion was incredibly productive, looking at how a cross-departmental approach is needed to address the issue.

Junior Labour Lawyers’ Reception, in partnership with Thompsons Solicitors and The Law Society.

After a day packed full of panel events, we hosted our annual drinks reception, which once again proved hugely popular. 

We heard from a long list of passionate speakers including: the Shadow Justice team, Fiona Rutherford (Chief Executive, JUSTICE), Elkan Abrahamson (Director of Major Inquiries, Broudie Jackson Centre of Huge Battles for Justice) and Alex Tarrier (Trainee Solicitor, Thompsons Solicitors). 

External events

Our Chair, Catherine Atkinson chaired an event hosted by the Charted Institute of Legal Executives which focussed on Social Mobility in the legal profession, with Steve Reed MP and Emily Thornberry MP. 

We also contributed to an event with the Labour Housing Group. SLL member David Watkinson, represented the Society and spoke on the panel. The event focussed on how housing needs can be met, and what legal & planning reform is needed to meet such needs across the next decade.

We also supported the Socialist Societies Stall throughout conference and ended our programme of events with the Socialist Societies Reception, with Chair of the Labour Party Anneliese Dodds MP. David Drew (Vice-chair of SLL) spoke at the reception, alongside representatives from many of the other fantastic socialist societies.