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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

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

9 Jan 18

Hold tight for 2018

Get set for another rollercoaster ride through the year

4 Dec 17

Trends and revelations

From the Journal employment survey: sexual harassment must be taken seriously

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?