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Society blog

21 Feb 18

Scottish Legal International comes to fruition

Joint initiative aims to promote Scottish profession internationally

30 Aug 17

A paralegal's tale

Janet Rieu-Clarke, the Law Society’s accredited paralegal, explains the path that led her to new role at the Society and the rationale behind the new accredited paralegal status.

30 Aug 17

A call to vote from John Scott

John Scott QC urges his fellow solicitor advocates to vote for their dedicated representative

29 Aug 17

No globalisation without representation...

Katie Hay discusses the globalisation of the legal market and urges Scottish solicitors working internationally, to get involved

24 Jul 17

Bringing the world to "world-class"

Sarah Sutton, digital communications executive at the Law Society of Scotland, talks about her bright idea to ensure international representation on the Society’s Council

26 Jun 17

The Debate - backstage, front of house and top tips

In this mini-series of blogs, three key players in the Donald Dewar Memorial Debating Tournament share their individual perspectives of the event.

19 Jun 17

Got a passion for the profession?

Could one of the 23 current vacancies for 16 different committees be just right for you?

28 Apr 17

Professional Practice - advising the advisers

Scottish solicitors help their clients through some of the most momentous occasions of their lives, personal or professional, good or bad. But where do solicitors turn for support? Prof Prac, that's where.

1 Nov 16

How getting involved in debating can change your life

Head of education Rob Marrs explains how getting involved in debating, whether as competitor or judge, can be incredibly rewarding. And more importantly, he explains how to win a debate.

14 Oct 16

Career development and volunteering at the Law Society of Scotland

If you want to enhance your career, develop your skills or just give back to your profession, there are lots of different personal and professional development opportunities at the Society

Editors Blog

Imbalance of power

13 Feb 17

These days, all lawyers may need to be ready to take a stand in defence of the rule of law

There have been times in recent years where I have feared for the rule of law. Politicians have directed slighting comments at judges whose decisions they did not like; successive UK Governments have done all but openly defy the European Court of Human Rights, particularly over the issue of prisoners’ voting rights. (The Russian Constitutional Court has now decided to defy the Strasbourg court: British ministers were well warned that this sort of thing would result from their own hostility.) And the media, despite vigorously defending their own freedoms under the law, can be as guilty as any of undermining the integrity of the system.

The strain on the system was increased during the article 50 Brexit litigation, with the notorious “Enemies of the People” headline following the High Court decision and the Lord Chancellor’s marked lack of enthusiasm for standing up for the judiciary, despite her statutory duty to defend the rule of law. At least both she and the Supreme Court were fully prepared by the time of the latter’s decision last month to uphold the initial ruling, and the coverage, though not exactly respectful at times, showed a little more understanding of the points at issue.

Admittedly the court’s decision may itself lead to other tensions: as is noted in our leading features this month, its hands-off approach to matters regarded as of constitutional convention rather than law could result in a lack of policing of contentious legal-political issues that ends up putting the constitution itself under further strain. The courts are well aware that they are in sensitive territory, but it is clear enough that holders of power are liable to exercise it in any way they are able, in the absence of some constraint.

And what are we to make of events in the United States, just in the first weeks of the Trump Presidency? One man appears intent on testing, perhaps to breaking point, a prided system of separation of powers. If Congress is compliant, only the judiciary can uphold the constitution – at risk, if early instances are repeated, of unrestrained ridicule if they do, at the hands of someone who has only just sworn to uphold the constitution.

To date the legal profession there has won plaudits for its actions in support of what it believes to be right. If it should fail, the consequences could be serious indeed. There is no guarantee that we in the UK would be immune. The rule of law may need us all to take a stand.

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Blog archive

9 Oct 18

Under siege

After the extra money announced for prosecutors and then the police, something has to be done now for the defence sector

10 Sep 18

Programme for action?

How much can we expect to happen through the Scottish Government's Programme for Government?

6 Aug 18

No deal, no say?

The arguments for a second EU referendum apply with greater force in a "no deal" scenario

9 Jul 18

System under threat

Items in this month's issue illustrate increasing threats to the rule of law and the integrity of the legal system

11 Jun 18

Speaking out

The benefit sanctions system has drawn some unusually sharp comments from the Society, but the need for such strictures is likely to increase

8 May 18

After Windrush

The treatment of those of Caribbean origin shows a need for the law to be rebalanced

9 Apr 18

Mind the gap

Do the Gender Pay Gap Regulations provide enough useful information to justify their approach?

12 Mar 18

Case to be made

If the independent legal aid review could not find evidence to support a general rise in fees, what should the response be?

9 Feb 18

Crunch time

The independent reports due in the next few months will be an indication of how the profession is seen from outside

9 Jan 18

Hold tight for 2018

Get set for another rollercoaster ride through the year