Letter of Welcome from Nicola Sawford, Chair, Governance, Risk and Audit Committee
Dear Potential Candidate
I warmly encourage you to consider making an application to become a member of the Governance, Risk and Audit Committee (GRA) of the Bar Standards Board. To help you as you contemplate whether this role may suit you, I would like to give you a little insight into the Board, its work and what it is like being a part of the BSB.
I joined the Bar Standards Board myself at the beginning of 2015. As a former diplomat, with no legal background, I found I had a lot to learn about how the legal system works, how legal regulation works and how the Bar Standards Board itself works. That in itself has been enjoyable and interesting. As is so often the case when one is learning something new, things do not remain static. The last two and a half years have seen a lot of change and progress and I do not see the pace slackening. This is very definitely a role for those who enjoy an intellectual challenge across a wide variety of topics.
Governance reform has been a key programme of work since I joined the BOardand we have made major changes to how we work, including increasing delegation to the Executive and better defining the role of the Board and its Committees. This work will continue in the coming years, and where we previously relied on a large number of subject matter committees to provide assurance across all areas of our work, we need now to develop new ways of achieving that assurance. The oversight and assurance provided to the Board by GRA is vital to our efforts to be a modern, independent and effective regulator.
With both independent members and Board members (lay and barrister) on the Committee, you would be joining a small group of highly capable and articulate people. We have a wide range of views expressed on all the issues we consider. The interaction between able people with very different backgrounds and types of expertise is one of the most satisfying aspects of what we do. We all learn from each other and by doing so, I believe we produce well-reasoned decisions. Acting with integrity and respect is a central tenet, especially as we debate what can sometimes be difficult topics. Decisions are not always easy to reach and we engage in robust deliberations in order to properly test the issues before us. Everyone has an opportunity to contribute and we are always keen to ensure that all perspectives are aired before we make decisions. I expect all Committee members to participate fully in this way.
We are supported by a talented and dedicated Executive team. I think we enjoy a good rapport with our individual staff members while also holding the Executive properly to account. Our governance changes aim to create a better balance between the Board and the Executive and the role of GRA in reporting on improvements made, as well as identifying issues that need attention, is a key factor in achieving that balance. The Board relies upon the ability and willingness of GRA, as a group and individually, to analyse reports put before it critically and to challenge the Executive constructively.
The BSB is funded by the profession, and we need to make sure too that we subject our operations to proper scrutiny. The GRA helps ensure that the Board sets its policies properly and has robust systems in place to monitor what the BSB is doing.
If you are successful in your application, you will join at an interesting time in the BSB’s development and you will genuinely have an opportunity to help shape the future. The importance of the Bar to the rule of law and democracy in this country may not be appreciated by all but it is something we bear in mind at all times. The energy with which all Board and Committee members, and our Executive team, approach the issues before us is often inspirational. The chance to make a difference is both motivating and stimulating to me – and I think the other members of the Board and its Committees too.
If this also appeals to you, please do make an application. We look forward to our new member joining and I can assure you of a warm welcome for whoever is successful.
Chair, Governance, Risk and Audit Committee