Understanding your sector
Understanding your sector

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1.1 Functions of professional bodies

The overall functions of professional bodies vary widely according to how they are set up and organised, but the following list is fairly comprehensive:

  • set and assess professional examinations
  • provide support for continuing professional development (CPD)
  • publish professional journals or magazines
  • provide networks for professionals to meet and discuss their field of expertise
  • issue a code of conduct to guide professional behaviour
  • deal with complaints against professionals and implement disciplinary procedures
  • represent their members in lobbying government about relevant legislation
  • promote fairer access to the profession to people from all backgrounds
  • provide careers support and opportunities for students, graduates and people already working in the profession.
(Source: Reference.com )

If you look at this list closely, you should be able to identify a number of areas where a professional body might be useful to people who are not members of the profession but are interested in finding out more. Understanding more about a particular profession – how it is regulated, the qualifications required for entry and progression, the networks that exist and the support provided – can be hugely valuable to anyone thinking about entering that profession.

Visit the Law Society’s website [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , the independent professional body for solicitors, to discover what is provided in addition to elements devoted to professional practice and policy. What do you notice about the range of topics covered?

The range of topics is very extensive and include:

  • events and training
  • publications
  • research and trends
  • communities including women lawyers, ethnic minorities and lawyers with disabilities
  • campaigns and consultations
  • news including social media
  • careers including how to become a solicitor
  • for the public – advice including common legal issues and frequently asked questions.

Activity 2 The uses of professional bodies

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Think about the various sections of the Law Society website listed above. If you were considering a career in law, how might some of these sections help you? Make some notes in the table below.

Table 1 Possible uses of the Law Society website
Section of websitePossible uses
Careers
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Campaigns and consultations
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For the public
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Events and training
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Research and trends
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Communities
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Publications
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News
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Words: 0
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Comment

The ideas listed below are not meant to be complete – you might well have thought of more. What they demonstrate, however, is that the Law Society can be a very important resource for anyone wanting to find out more about the legal profession, how it works and what its current concerns are. The same is also true of other professional bodies in other fields.

Table 2 Suggested uses of Law Society website
Section of websitePossible uses
Careers
  • Advice on entering the profession
  • Qualifications required
  • Useful tips
Campaigns and consultations
  • Insight into what is happening in the law currently and what matters to the profession
For the public
  • Insight into how the profession presents and explains itself at a public level
Events and training
  • Information about events that the public can attend
  • Insight into how training can help with career progression
  • Insight into areas of training popular with solicitors
Research and trends
  • Insight into legal issues and what is happening in the law generally
Communities
  • Helpful information for people who might be members of particular communities
Publications
  • Background reading on different areas of the law and research undertaken
News
  • Current issues in the law
  • The legal profession’s response to issues of public interest

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