Charles Kennedy, the former leader of the Liberal Democrat Party, will be the guest speaker at the 2009 Birmingham Law Society Legal Awards.
The politician is set to be the top name at the awards ceremony that recognises the best performers in Birmingham’s legal sector.
Paul Farrow, the chief executive of Birmingham Law Society, said: “Charles Kennedy is a real political heavyweight, having led one of the UK’s major political parties, and we are extremely pleased to have him as guest speaker at the 2009 Legal Awards.
“Despite stepping down as leader of the Liberal Democrats, Charles continues to be a popular member of the party, juggling his political responsibilities with that of being a husband and father. His insight into the world of politics will no doubt be extremely informative and entertaining.”
The Society said it is expecting more than 500 people to attend the awards ceremony, which is being held at the ICC next year.
The awards, which seek to recognise and reward the achievements of Birmingham’s legal community – the biggest outside London – have become a fixture on the city’s social circuit.
This year’s speaker was broadcaster and journalist John Sergeant, who recently hit the headlines after pulling out of reality TV contest Strictly Come Dancing.
The society is currently looking for nominations in the nine award categories, which include Legal Executive of the Year; Trainee Solicitor of the Year; Assistant Solicitor of the Year; Commercial Solicitor of the Year; Solicitor of the Year; Barrister of the Year; Law Firm of the Year (15 partner or less) and Law Firm of the Year (16 partners or more).
There is also a new category, Law Firm Manager of the Year, who can be either a senior partner, managing partner or chief executive.
Born in Inverness in 1959, Mr Kennedy was raised and educated in Fort William, and later attended Glasgow University. Following his graduation in 1982, he worked as a journalist and broadcaster with BBC Highland in Inverness, before moving into politics a year later when he stood as the Social Democratic Party (SDP) candidate for Ross, Cromarty and Skye.
After winning the ballot, he was elected to the House of Commons, defeating the sitting government minister to become the youngest MP at that time. During his term in parliament he acted as a spokesman on issues ranging from the welfare state to Europe, agriculture and rural affairs.
After the 1987 general election, Mr Kennedy was the first SDP MP to back the merger with the Liberals, and moved a successful motion to this effect at the party conference that year.
In 1990, he was elected UK Party President, the equivalent of party chairman, which he served until 1994. In August 1999 he was elected as the leader of the Liberal Democrats, and was appointed to the Privy Council in October that year.
During his six years as leader of the Liberal Democrats, Mr Kennedy took the party through its most successful election for 80 years, when it returned 63 MPs in May 2005. Six months later, in January 2006, he controversially stood down as leader of the Lib Dems.
Today, he remains actively involved in politics and is the MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber.