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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

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

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

9 Jan 17

Civic engagement

The Society risked becoming political in welcoming the Government paper Scotland's Place in Europe

6 Dec 16

The year that was

The Journal employment survey reveals a gloomy outlook; how can solicitors meet clients' needs in these times?