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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

Uncovering the unacceptable

12 Jun 19

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

It is a couple of years now since the #MeToo movement made its breakthrough, yet personal accounts, and collective data, showing the extent of the issue of sexual harassment still come to light very regularly.

That applies not least to the legal profession, where the English legal press has carried a number of reports recently of quite senior lawyers being required to leave their firms due to behaviour towards a colleague or colleagues having come to light that is unacceptable, and even criminal.

We know that there is also a widespread problem in Scotland. That was exposed by last year’s Profile of the Profession survey, with nearly one in five solicitors having personal experience of bullying or harassment in the last five years.

It should trouble us that a profession that sets great store by its ethics, and in particular its integrity in looking after its clients’ interests and financial affairs, should be home also to such a deep seated problem. Yet it may equally be true that very often the perpetrators do not properly appreciate that their behaviour is not acceptable, or its effect on those subjected to it. To that effect is our blog of the month (p 6), written by an anonymous junior female solicitor in England who repeatedly suffered at the hands of others, yet writes that she does not believe they were being intentionally hurtful.

Related to this is the issue of unconscious bias, another subject of which awareness is growing, and one which can manifest itself in relation to any protected characteristic within the equality sphere. There have been many calls for training to counter such bias, for those responsible for recruitment, and managers generally.

Should we be taking action at an earlier stage? The more serious cases of bullying and harassment must raise questions about fitness to be admitted to, or to remain on, the roll of solicitors. Could such tendencies be identified at an earlier stage? Would it be feasible for Diploma students to undergo psychometric tests designed to identify unacceptable attitudes, or in any event to be given training against unconscious bias? (I don’t know the answer, but am happy for the issue to be debated in the Journal.)

And could such training be part of the compulsory course for new partners? No doubt that has much to cover already, but could it? Or in any event be given regular slots in the CPD programme?

The Society knows there is a problem to address, and we await to see what it proposes. It seems to me, however, that the issue needs to be tackled on multiple fronts, and wherever possible before it leads to acts that mean another victim in the next set of statistics.

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Blog archive

7 Oct 19

High noon

The welcome decision of the UK Supreme Court in the prorogation case shows the need for a court free from political influence

9 Sep 19

Courts and politics

Courts should be able to intervene if an abuse of power threatens the balance between executive and legislature

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