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18 May 09

Chief Executive Lorna Jack's impressions of her first few months

Four months after taking up the position of Society chief executive, Lorna Jack is still settling into her office at Drumsheugh Gardens – such has been her hectic schedule of visits to firms and faculties around the country. But despite meeting several hundred solicitors and trainees at the 100 or so meetings she has attended, her main focus is on engaging even more closely with the profession.

“It’s been fast and furious, no doubt about that,” she says. “But absolutely fantastic too. In one way, it feels like I’ve hardly been here five minutes, yet the whole four months has also been hugely fulfilling. The feedback from the solicitors I’ve met has been really useful and I want to get out even more to meet members and listen to their views and suggestions. I am scheduling in as many meetings with the profession as I can, so I am keen for firms, local faculties and groups to get in touch to arrange visits if I haven’t managed to reach them yet.”

In addition to formal occasions, Jack has met solicitors informally at a variety of events up and down the country, and in other jurisdictions where members practise. Others she has spoken to by phone or email. Always, she says, the contact with the profession has been a very rewarding part of her work to date.

“No one at the Society underestimates the current economic difficulties facing Scottish solicitors”, she says. “With that in mind, we applied a bit of imagination and thought it would be helpful to offer free access to the Law in Scotland conference to unemployed solicitors, so that they could keep up their CPD hours and also network with colleagues, which might open up job opportunities.

“In response, one of the members who took up the offer sent his unsolicited feedback thanking the Society for what he called ‘an enlightened and valued initiative for solicitors facing unemployment for the first time’. For me, this shows the Society connecting with our membership and responding to their needs. I hope that solicitor goes forward thinking he has a professional body that cared about him when the chips were down. The same goes for others too.”

Jack stresses that much work remains to be done. “When I was recruited last September, I talked about the challenges facing the legal profession, including, at that time, the looming recession. Looking back, the issues for the Society are much the same now as they were then – we need to be more dynamic, efficient and customer-focused so that the membership and the outside world value us more, but the good news is that we are already making progress towards those goals.

“That view has become stronger and stronger as I’ve gone out and met members of the profession and other businesses and organisations. My drive is to follow the path of modernisation by listening, responding and tailoring our services to meet the needs of all members.

“Some of the structural and cultural change within the Society has started. But we have to deliver more value for money to our membership, whatever size of firm or sector they are in. We need to be more visible, getting out there and meeting our members. After all, we are a service organisation and therefore a people-to-people business. This is about the whole of the Society, not just me, and I am looking forward to working hard with the team to continue the journey we have begun.”

Contributed by the Society

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