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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

Crack this one

13 Mar 17

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

The digital revolution is pretty much a way of life now for most branches of the profession. Digitising the caseload of the summary criminal courts must, however, be something of a final frontier. Many who appear as accused are people whose patterns of behaviour do not, shall we say, fit readily into any computer model. Indeed it may take a degree of coercion to get them to appear at all, and trying to coordinate accused and witnesses for a summary trial must often be the stuff of nightmares.

We should not be too surprised, therefore, at figures that record that approximately 52,000 summary trial diets are fixed each year for an end product of 9,000 actual trials. We can believe too that not only Scottish Courts & Tribunals Service but pretty well anyone with an interest in the summary justice system would like to see less wastage.

Hence the efforts of the working group that has produced the proposals described in this month's lead feature should be applauded. Given a remit to start with a blank sheet and think “clear sky”, it has made a serious attempt to show how the various procedural permutations can be brought within a digitally based, case managed system in which court diets are kept to a minimum until disputed issues are narrowed and trial can be set to take place within a few weeks.

Will the proposals work? What all involved are keen to emphasise is that the debate starts now, and the floor is open for feedback, particularly from defence lawyers.

For many, the first question will be what it means in terms of legal aid payments. That of course is still to be confirmed, though there is no mention as yet of any expectation that new efficiencies should be reflected in lower fixed fees. One could argue, conversely, that the current fee does not reflect dead time often spent in court; further, the solicitors on the working group have pointed out that, as with other procedure reforms, there is more “front loading”, i.e. work required at an earlier stage, in order to meet the demands of case management.

Some worry that there will be fewer occasions for budding lawyers to hone their advocacy skills. That may be true, but is not something that should stand in the way of otherwise desirable reforms. There would still be important pre-trial hearings to determine, for example, what evidence should be taken to be agreed.

Now if we can just persuade the court-shy that there is no hiding place...

 

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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