Leading lawyer to leave for top role Down Under

    Jonathan Smithers appointed head of Law Council of Australia

    Jonathan Smithers

    One of the UK’s leading lawyers, Jonathan Smithers, is leaving Tunbridge Wells company Cooper-Burnett to take up a senior position in Australia.

    Mr Smithers, 54, has been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer of the Law Council of Australia.

    He is currently President of the Law Society of England and Wales, but his tenure ends next month and he will start his new role in September.

    A senior partner at CooperBurnett, he was educated at the Beacon School in Crowborough and then studied at Nottingham Trent University.

    He retires as head of the property and private client department at CooperBurnett, having spent 32 years at the legal practice since taking his articles there.

    A well-known figure in the town, he is a member of the Oriana Singers in Tunbridge Wells, and has sung in more than 40 cathedrals around the country.

    “After 32 years at the firm, from articled clerk to senior partner, I will miss the friendship and camaraderie of so many with whom I have been privileged to work,” Mr Smithers said. “I am looking forward to taking up my new post and to be able to utilise the knowledge and skills which I have garnered both at the Law Society and at CooperBurnett.”

    Fellow partner Victoria Sampson said: “Whilst we are really sorry to see Jonathan go, this is an important international role into which I know he will put energy and enthusiasm.”

    Criminal court fees, cuts to legal aid and cyber security are among the issues he has been addressing during his term of office at the Law Society.

    “I have thoroughly enjoyed the strategic challenges and delivery aspects of my current role as President of the Law Society,” he said.

    “Moving to Australia is something I have obviously thought long and hard about, but the lure of a fresh set of issues to tackle was an opportunity too good to ignore.”

    The Law Council of Australia’s President, Stuart Clark, paid tribute to his new recruit, said:

    “Jonathan has established a reputation throughout his career as being both courageous and strategically sound.”

    Mr Smithers has been representing the interests of all Kent lawyers on the Law Society Council since 2007.