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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

Complaints about the Commission

10 Apr 17

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

Relations between the Society and the SLCC have always tended towards the cool, but there is no mistaking the unseasonal chill that has prevailed since the SLCC unveiled its budget proposalsfor 2017-18, complete with 121⁄2% increase in the annual levy payable by legal practitioners.

Nor is there much doubt that the Society is in tune with members’ concerns in challenging the rise as way beyond anything that would be considered acceptable in a body funded out of general taxation. Given the 5,000-plus emails to MSPs (according to Society tweets) in the first days following the Society’s call for representations after the SLCC confirmed its figures for the year, something approaching half the practising profession has already made its point, unless some members have been organising mass petitions.

Will it have an impact? Naturally the SLCC had its defences ready, setting out not just the headline rise in complaints, but the work that goes into even confirming a complaint as ineligible, the subsidy from reserves applied in recent years and the longer term comparisons regarding what is levied.

Regarding eligibility, the article published online with last month’s Journal reveals that the process of confirming a complaint as ineligible is rather more elaborate than might be supposed, though it would be difficult to say whether it is unnecessarily so without inspecting individual files. As for budgeting, while the SLCC undoubtedly was over-cautious at the outset in making provision for its needs, it has since reduced its reserves; and the arguments about it spending money on activities beyond its core functions are not all one way, if these are part of its statutory remit.

Questions might be asked more urgently why the SLCC did not agree a special case to the Court of Session, following the ruling against the competency of “hybrid” complaints, to avert the need for separate appeals in every such case where the Society wishes to continue to pursue the misconduct element. Beyond that, the principal challenge must be over whether it could do more with less. The SLCC’s accounts are subject to “best value” Government standards and audited through Audit Scotland. But its feature of being funded by a levy on professionals appears to result at present in it not being subject to the same budgetary restraint and oversight at the crucial forward planning stages as other bodies that perform public service functions.

No doubt the thinking behind the original legislation was to protect it, as an independent body, from political or other interference. But it is not in anyone’s interests, surely including the SLCC’s, that there is not a more overt method of giving some reassurance at the outset that the profession’s, and ultimately the public’s, money is being used to best effect.

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Blog archive

14 Jan 19

Seeking the positive

A bit of flexibility and imagination can achieve things this year, whether for a business in the face of Brexit or for employees to improve their work-life balance, and wellbeing

3 Dec 18

A turbulent Christmas

Depressing divisions and a lack of clear thinking dominate the Brexit scene. But (stop press) there is something positive in the official reaction to the legal aid review

7 Nov 18

Put to the test

The Society's position as regulator will come under renewed scrutiny following the Roberton report, but the report itself should equally be subjected to proper scrutiny

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?