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SYLA reports successful year

18 July 11

2010-11 was a year in which the committee's planned events proved highly popular

by Catriona Headley

The Scottish Young Lawyers’ Association seeks to educate, entertain and represent young lawyers in Scotland, and 2010-11 was an incredibly successful and productive year for the committee in all three of these areas. By far the most successful activity of the last year has been SYLA’s provision of educational and CPD events for our members. SYLA is committed to providing the majority of its CPD for free and the only CPD events we charge for are conferences, which are priced at extremely competitive rates and only marginally above cost.

SYLA is indebted to the members of the profession who speak at our events. Without their goodwill, SYLA would not be able to do what we do. This year we continued the seminar series titled “So you want to be a lawyer?”, covering the areas of employment law, oil and gas, commercial property, in-house lawyers, human rights, and family law. We also ran in-depth seminars on commercial property law and the Childrens’ Hearings (Scotland) Act in both Glasgow and Edinburgh and, in conjunction with the Law Society of Scotland, hosted a Q&A session on the forthcoming changes to legal education and training.

SYLA has held two conferences since last August. In November we hosted a sell-out Annual Criminal Day Conference in Edinburgh, which featured seminars from Donald Findlay QC and John Scott, solicitor advocate, amongst others. The recent Annual Conference in Glasgow, “Progression in the Profession: The Future of Law in Scotland” was extremely successful, with seminars on innovating legal practice, social media, and the future of rights of audience in Scotland. Richard Susskind, author of The End of Lawyers? and Lorna Jack, chief executive of the Law Society of Scotland, delivered keynote speeches during the day.

Arguably, the most successful educational event that the SYLA ran this year was the inaugural Annual Lecture which was presented by Lord Hope of Craighead and generously sponsored by Digby Brown LLP. Lord Hope spoke to more than 150 SYLA members on the topic of “Scots law from south of the border”. Little did we know that the content of Lord Hope’s speech would have such relevance in the months following the lecture. The speech can be viewed at our website: www.syla.co.uk.

Although focusing on educational events, the committee also organised social events for the membership. An audience with Colonel Ted Shields, Chief of Staff of the Army in Scotland, a whisky and chocolate tasting evening at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society, the annual BBQ in Glasgow, and a Vegas-style evening of casino games and cocktails following the annual conference, have allowed members across the country to meet and network in an informal setting.

Following the very successful campaign against trainee redundancies in 2009, the last year has seen the committee tackle smaller, but no less important, representative issues. In the autumn, an open letter was sent to the membership regarding the SYLA’s concerns over the Society’s “Student Extra” scheme. We have also been in regular discussions with the Society over its decision to end free CPD for new lawyers. SYLA has joined the New Lawyers’ Reference Group set up by the Society, which has held a first, very productive, meeting. We also participated in the Society’s bullying and harassment in the legal profession research project.

Complimenting all these activities has been an overhaul of SYLA’s website and email system. These will continue to be developed in the coming year.

Looking to the next year, the new committee which was elected at the AGM on 24 June 2011, will be meeting soon to discuss projects and priorities. Members are invited to submit suggestions for events or raise representation issues to inform these discussions: mail@syla.co.uk

 

Catriona Headley, President

 

The SYLA committee for the coming year is: President, Catriona Headley (Digby Brown LLP); Vice President, Fiona McAllister (Burness LLP); secretary, Söla Paterson-Marke (DLA Piper LLP); treasurer, Roseanne Ogden (MacPhee & Partners); committee members, Emma Boffey (Scottish Law Commission), Laura Bloxham (Archibald, Campbell & Harley), Karen Wylie (Morton Fraser LLP), Stephen Allison (Digby Brown LLP), Robert Booth (Glasgow City Council), Audrey Young (Hill Brown & Co), and Fiona Gibson (Hill Brown & Co).

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