John Bailie, former deputy director of the Northern Ireland Court Service, has been appointed chief executive and secretary of the Law Society of Northern Ireland.
Bailie, a qualified solicitor, joined the public sector in 1985 and was appointed to the management board of the court service in 1992. He has now become the society's first chief executive.
"I feel privileged to be asked to serve the society in this capacity," he said.
Looking to the future for the society, he said: "Apart from unavoidable and increasing competitive pressures, the society, through its council and office-holders, will be required to address issues such as the future funding of legal services, self-regulation and the maintenance of professional standards, and the protection of human rights and access to justice, in the context of a new or renovated government administration.
"At the same time the society will be required to continue to discharge these responsibilities through management and support services which demonstrate responsible and value-for-money stewardship of the society's finances and affairs."
Brian Stewart, litigation partner at Belfast firm O'Reilly Stewart, said Bailie faced the task of bringing the Northern Ireland Law Society into the 21st century and up to speed with technology.
"His background will mean that he can see where the dangers are," he added.