"One Profession" comes together
The Society's "Law in Scotland" conference has streams for all sectors of the profession while highlighting its shared values
The need for solicitors to come together as “one profession” has never been greater, Society President Cameron Ritchie will tell next month’s “Law in Scotland – One Profession” conference.
Delegates will hear that, while the profession is increasingly diverse, solicitors continue to have many shared interests.
That message is reflected in the wide range of topics due to be discussed at the conference, in Glasgow’s Hilton Hotel on Tuesday 6 September. Six streams have been developed to cater for all sectors of the profession – private practice, in-house, big firms, high street solicitors, legal aid lawyers, sole practitioners and new lawyers.
Cameron Ritchie said: “Given the diversity of the current solicitors’ profession, it is more important than ever that we come together to discuss our shared interests and the different challenges we face.
“During a period of change, it is particularly crucial that we move forward together. The fact that public spending cutbacks are beginning to take effect only underlines the need for unity.
“The Law in Scotland conference reflects the theme of the year ahead – one profession. I hope that those who attend will build on an emerging mood of consensus, while engaging in robust but constructive debate.”
Ritchie added that many of the issues due to be discussed at the conference would be familiar to all solicitors, such as meeting the needs of clients and improving teamwork.
One of the keynote speakers, Hamish Taylor, founder of the Skills Exchange Network, a management and leadership development organisation, will highlight the benefits of learning from the skills and experiences of other professions and sectors.
He said: “If you only look at other law firms, you are only ever going to be equal to them. If you really want a breakthrough, you have to look outside your current environment.”
Taylor, the former head of brands at British Airways and chief executive officer of both Eurostar and Sainsbury’s Bank, will describe how inter-profession working has been successfully used by the airline industry, which developed queuing systems pioneered by Disney and introduced flat beds on planes by working with a yacht designer.
In asking whether lawyers are really ready for the information age, one of the other keynote speakers, barrister Stephen Mason, will also highlight issues faced by all sectors of the profession.
“Like many other professions,” Mason said, “lawyers face IT security threats, for instance from hackers and malicious software, while also meeting challenges such as maintaining a website and managing internet use.
“But more specifically, they also have to consider issues such as client confidentiality, data encryption and digital signatures. The question is – are they ready for all the complexities and opportunities of the information age?”
The conference is sponsored by HSBC, whose head of commercial banking for Scotland, Mark Tate, said: “As ‘one profession’, there are shared business issues facing legal practices and HSBC is keen to understand how they impact specific firms.
“Spread of fee income across varying legal disciplines; monitoring and valuation of work in progress; collection of fees; fixed overhead structure; and partners’ remuneration, are common issues. However, we are seeing some positive sentiment return to the sector, and well managed firms are once again looking at opportunities and not just threats. We are looking to help firms convert these opportunities into positive gains.
“HSBC is keen to support legal firms in Scotland, and seeks to increase the number of main banking relationships we are entrusted to run for our legal customers. We are experiencing strong growth in all facets of our Scottish business to which legal sector clients have contributed and who are key future clients for us.”
As usual the conference will feature an extensive exhibition. Sarah Prior, the Society’s events manager, explains that delegates will have the chance to win an iPad 2 by getting their entry card stamped by all the exhibitors. Second prize will be an exhibitors’ goody bag.
Members and non-members can book by going to www.lawscot.org.uk/events and reserving their place using their website login details. Rates are available from £95 per person.
The pre-conference “Networking Beyond the Norm” event takes place in Glasgow the evening before. It features Roy Sheppard, an expert on building profitable business relationships through networking and referrals. This event is open to members and non-members, who can book by going to www.lawscot.org.uk/events/networking-beyond-the-norm