Andrew Holroyd OBE

Presented by Professor Frank Sanderson

Honorable Pro-Chancellor, I have pleasure in presenting Andrew Holroyd OBE for the award of an Honorary Fellowship from Liverpool John Moores University.  

Andrew Holroyd is the President of The Law Society, the professional body representing the interests of the 125,000 solicitors practising in England and Wales and another 20,000 members in over 70 countries. The society is there to help protect and promote solicitors across the country in a range of ways, from negotiating with and lobbying the profession's regulators and central government to offering training and advice.   

Andrew, the first Liverpool lawyer to become President in 25 years, has enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a leading Liverpool solicitor serving the inner city communities. He maintains that he would not have reached this elevated status but for the Toxteth Riots of 1981.'Becoming President was really by chance rather than design,' he believes. 

Following the riots, during which Andrew's office in the Rialto Building on Upper Parliament Street was burnt down, Liverpool Law Society were looking to appoint someone to its committee who had a good working knowledge of the area. Andrew, an immigration law specialist, was the ideal candidate and was duly appointed. 

Andrew was born in Liverpool in 1948. After his schooling in Liverpool where he did well academically, Andrew completed a Law degree at the University of Nottingham, followed by his solicitors' finals. 

Despite his father being a lawyer, Andrew was still uncertain about a career, and went to Indonesia to work for VSO. This experience convinced him to be a lawyer: "I wanted to change the world in the best way I could", he recalls, "and thought that I could do it better at home than as a stranger in another country."  

Back in the UK, he joined Alsop Stevens Batesons, the largest commercial law firm in Liverpool, and there he enjoyed excellent training in shipping law and commercial litigation. But his experience in Indonesia had given him an ambition to use his skills to support the disadvantaged, and so in 1975 he joined Jackson & Canter, a small firm in inner-city Liverpool. 

He became a partner in 1977, and for over 3 decades there in which time he has become the longest serving partner, he has worked to ameliorate the problems of urban deprivation: dealing with issues such as housing, family law, welfare benefits, immigration, and children taken into care, under the headline "helping people who need it most". 

He is confident that the firm has made a real difference to people's lives not only by offering legal protection but also by influencing social policy, leading for example to improvements in how the police interact with people in the inner city.   

Following his appointment to the committee in the 1980s, Andrew became president of the Liverpool Law Society in 1993 before being persuaded to take over the seat for Merseyside on the national Law Society Council in 1996. He then achieved a high profile on the council through chairing the training committee and then the standards board. In 2003, he was awarded a well-deserved OBE for his services to publicly funded legal work.  

In 2005, Andrew was chosen to be Deputy Vice President elect by members of the Law Society Council, becoming Vice President in 2007, and President this year. A theme of his year of office has been to examine what professionalism really means in the 21st century to law firms large and small, raising issues such as pro bono, quality of life, the environment and diversity. 

In October, he oversaw the launch of the Law Society's Excellence Awards which celebrate innovation in the profession. And he has placed special emphasis on the core values in the new Solicitors Code of Conduct which he says "tell you all you need to know about what lawyers should be like in the 21st Century":  upholding the rule of law, which includes the principle of equal access to justice and the rule of law  integrity independence confidentiality good client service and upholding the reputation of the profession  

Outside of his legal work, Andrew is a Methodist lay preacher on the Liverpool south circuit and is a staunch Evertonian. 

Lawyers and the legal profession don't always enjoy a good press, but Andrew Holroyd's strong belief that promoting access to justice and "redressing the balance of power between the powerful and powerless" are central to the lawyer's role makes him an ideal president of the Law Society and a great credit to his profession.  

He pursues a noble cause in using the law as a tool to make a positive difference to people's lives and we would like to acknowledge today his public spiritedness, his unstinting support for the underdog, and his manifest humanity.  

Thus I have pleasure in presenting Andrew Holroyd, this most distinguished person and son of our region, for admission to our highest honour of Fellow of Liverpool John Moores University.