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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

Case to be made

12 Mar 18

If the independent legal aid review could not find evidence to support a general rise in fees, what should the response be?

“Good – in parts,” might sum up the reaction of legal aid solicitors to Martyn Evans’s review report, of which more in the March Journal.

Recognition of their contribution, their low morale, and of the complexity and inflexibility of the present system, along with a call for independent setting of legal aid fees and a general review of rates, with priority to criminal fees, are all there. But so is the conclusion that “I tried hard to find persuasive evidence... that there should be a general increase in all legal aid fees. I could not”.

Before writing off his findings as based on inadequate scrutiny, practitioners should note Evans’s observations that not many took part in the Society’s research exercise into profitability of legal aid firms, that background data could not be made available, and that those who do make a good income from legal aid would also benefit from a general increase. His comment about “evidence” that is more akin to “strong assertion with anecdotes” is also worth a mention.

That said, Evans recognises that the lack of an independent review mechanism for fee rates gives rise to tensions between profession and Government which affects discussions of many other issues, including wider publicly-funded legal assistance.

At time of writing the Government’s considered response is still awaited, but in the face of the report’s 67 recommendations it should have little excuse for inaction. Notwithstanding Evans’s opening line that the Scottish service compares very well internationally – something that says as much about other systems as about our own – he believes that a fundamentally new approach is needed, and a profession that has repeatedly called for change should consider seriously whether it can accept his way of thinking.

Perhaps the message to be taken in relation to fees is that it is not enough to bang on about 1992 rates, when the people who matter see these as relating to a residual and declining category of work. Or even to rely on broad-brush complaints about budget cuts, lack of fee increases or firms struggling to make ends meet. If the profession now decides to take up the challenge in the report and commit to an evidence-based review of fees – and does it have much to lose, even bearing in mind Evans’s warning that to do so carries “a very significant risk” to both sides? – it will have to think carefully about how best to pitch its case. A more nuanced and focused approach is likely to be required, both in relation to categories of work and types of provider.


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Blog archive

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?

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?