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Society blog

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

4 Oct 16

Going international – a Scots lawyer's week at the IBA

John Morgan, a newly qualified solicitor at Brodies, recently received a scholarship from the International Bar Association to attend its annual conference in Washington DC. He tells of his experience

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 Nov 17

Mergers and markets

After the Maclays-Dentons merger, what now for the independent Scottish legal firm?

9 Oct 17

For the greater good

The profession should support those who attempt to improve the lot of the most vulnerable

11 Sep 17

Brexit and the legal order

Government recognition of the need to continue civil judicial cooperation with EU countries after Brexit is welcome, but how can it exclude the involvement of the CJEU?

7 Aug 17

Taking access to justice seriously

The House of Lords decision on employment tribunal fees elevates this constitutional principle

10 Jul 17

Advance of the courts

There is momentum behind civil procedure reform, and practitioners need to be alert to have their say

12 Jun 17

Defend our rights

Don't sacrifice rights to combat terrorism; welcome to Edinburgh for the UK Supreme Court

8 May 17

Review time

Patience will be needed as regards the outcome of the new review of legal services regulation, but there is much for the profession to concern itself with meantime

10 Apr 17

Complaints about the Commission

It is not surprising that solicitors are complaining about the SLCC budget and levy – but what should be done?

13 Mar 17

Crack this one

Digitising summary criminal business is a tough nut to crack, but a bold attempt has been made

13 Feb 17

Imbalance of power

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