The Solicitors Regulation Authority named its first first non-lawyer chair today. Enid Rowlands, UK chair of charity Victim Support, will succeed current chair Charles Plant in the role from January 2015.

The appointment was made by an independent appointments panel, chaired by Elizabeth Filkin, following an open competition. Rowlands is the first SRA chair chosen since the Legal Services Board insisted that all appointments at that level be lay members.

Rowlands said she wanted to continue the SRA’s programme of ‘modernisation and liberalisation’ to benefit solicitors and consumers.

She added: ‘I am particularly looking forward to developing strong and effective working relationships with those regulated by the SRA and with their representative bodies, and to developing a stronger dialogue with the users of legal services on whose behalf we regulate.’

Rowlands has served on the SRA board since January 2013.

As well as her position with Victim Support, she has held roles with Consumer Focus, North Wales Police Authority, North Wales Health Authority, the Training Standards Council and S4C Broadcasting Authority.

Following a training in psychology, Rowlands’ professional life included training and skills positions. She began her career working with unemployed and disadvantaged young people, progressing to being chair of Education and Skills Wales. She is currently a member of the General Medical Council, board member at the Information Commissioner’s Office and a trustee of Nest Corporation.

Her appointment was welcomed by the Legal Services Consumer Panel, which tweeted: ‘Congratulations to Enid Rowlands, next SRA chair. Good to see someone with strong consumer credentials in the top job.’