Meet the Board – Trustee Michael Gillman
When Michael Gillman became a Trustee of the Solicitors’ Benevolent Association, as it was then known 15 years ago, it was in a very different place. Michael wanted to ‘give something back’ as a solicitor and could see that an overhaul of the charity was needed as many of its processes hadn’t changed for decades. As chairman from 2012 and 2015, he teamed up with the then new CEO Tim Martin and worked on bringing their visions for improving the charity to fruition.
“What I wanted to do was to ensure the charity was fit for purpose so that the beneficiaries are well supported.”
“One thing that motivated me was hearing from a solicitor acquaintance who told me about a young friend who had worked for a big City law firm, but became very ill and was really supported by the charity.”
“That’s what it is all about. There are real people in need. Solicitors are human and any one of us can succumb to illness and hard times.”
New initiatives were introduced, including risk analysis of policies, creating strategies and agreeing criteria for the grant-making process.
“I’ve always been motivated to ensure that the charity could provide the best support possible for beneficiaries and not merely hand out money. We want to avoid creating a dependency culture,” he explained.
“During my time as Trustee I’ve been delighted that the support for beneficiaries has widened considerably through initiatives such as the charity helping to fund LawCare, enhancing provision of money and debt management advice, and using the services of Renovo for career counselling to enable people to return to work, not necessarily in the legal profession.”
The management has been reformed and there’s much more diversity on the Board of Trustees, which better reflects the modern profession which the charity serves. Michael is standing down from the Board this year after 15 years as Trustee and hopes he has been able to be a catalyst for changes for the better, in the way the charity serves the profession.
A former Senior Partner and specialist matrimonial solicitor at Bishop & Sewell LLP, Michael retired in October 2019 after more than 40 years as a solicitor. He still assists the firm, supporting the Family and Dispute Resolution teams and former clients.
Michael was President of the City of Westminster & Holborn Law Society in 2008. He continues to sit as a Deputy District Judge. He is married with two adult sons and enjoys fine arts, gardens, opera and travel.