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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

12 Aug 19

Constitutional meltdown?

The fundamentals of our constitution should not be put at risk simply in order to achieve Brexit by the scheduled date

8 Jul 19

70, and counting

The Society is in good shape as it turns 70, though uncertainty lies ahead

12 Jun 19

Uncovering the unacceptable

Our self-styled ethical profession has a problem of bullying and harassment. Can it be treated as a question of fitness to practise?

15 May 19

Make wellbeing a thing

Staff wellbeing in legal firms has to become a matter of culture, with supporting mechanisms in place

8 Apr 19

Law for people

The dignity of the law has come before the dignity of those caught up in its processes. What might happen if that were reversed?

12 Mar 19

Shape your future

Despite the uncertainty, it would benefit legal firms to think proactively about how to react to Brexit

11 Feb 19

Flexible is possible

As this month's lead feature illustrates, large and small firms alike can operate flexible working practices, and there appear to be few issues with clients when they do

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