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SYLA presents...

18 November 13

Introducing the Scottish Young Lawyers' Association programme for 2013-14, including a European conference that will be hosted in Edinburgh

by Fiona McAllister, Emma Boffey

The Scottish Young Lawyers' Association (SYLA) is pleased to announce an exciting new programme of events and activities for 2013-14.

Last year, we campaigned for fair access to the profession, and we are now working with the Law Society of Scotland on its "fair access" review. This includes access issues at many different levels - from school, to university, to traineeship. We participate directly in many forums to ensure the voice of young lawyers is heard, but we want to ensure that the issues at the top of young lawyers' agendas are at the top of ours, and we will soon conduct a membership survey to that end. We'll also hold a writing competition, and our 2013 annual debate will ask whether law is truly a profession for the privileged.

We have a busy calendar of events planned this year. We're especially privileged to be hosting the European Young Bar Association (EYBA) spring conference from 13-15 March 2014 in Edinburgh, together with our Spring Ball. Our "So You Want To Be…" series is aimed at students, trainees and NQs. These short evening seminars focus on getting into an area of law and what it's like once you're there, with top speakers from the profession giving invaluable insights and tips. This year, we're covering oil, gas and renewables, immigration and human rights, sport, employment, family, and litigation, as well as working outside Scotland.

The more in-depth "Beyond the Basics" series, aimed at current practitioners, gets under the skin of key issues across a broad range of practice areas, including personal injury, domestic abuse, advocacy, immigration and human rights, and property law.

Once again, we will run our annual Criminal Day Conference, Annual Lecture and Women in Law events. To support young lawyers in their early working lives, there will also be sessions on the soft skills young lawyers need to succeed in business, and support for financial planning from Clydesdale Bank.

This year, we are launching a new series of expert-led "Spotlight" events, designed to support the practice of those who are qualified and wish to improve or diversify their own knowledge, expertise and skills. Subjects coming up include energy, medical law and the armed forces.

In spring 2014, SYLA will cover both the legal and the political angles at its own independence event, featuring key personalities from the Yes Scotland and Better Together campaigns, and a top parliamentary lawyer.

If you're not exhausted by all that, you can enjoy yourself at a raft of social events throughout the year, including our Christmas social cheese and wine evenings and, in 2014, our 40th birthday party!

Joining SYLA is free and you benefit from being plugged into a network of people, opportunities and events that can be invaluable to your future in the law. See www.syla.co.uk for more details.

A postcard from London

In late September, I joined the European Young Bar Association for their annual International Weekend held in London, on behalf of both the Law Society of Scotland and Scottish Young Lawyers' Association.

The EYBA is the pan-European body for young lawyers, and runs three international events every year. Bidding to host these popular events must be the young lawyer equivalent of the Glasgow 2014 bid, as various jurisdictions tender for the privilege to welcome the future of the profession in Europe to their home city. Barcelona emerged victorious in their bid to host next summer's event. And Scotland is especially privileged to have been chosen to host the EYBA Spring Conference in Edinburgh, 13-15 March 2014.

London provided an opportunity to engage with and learn from young lawyers from across the continent. The themes to emerge from the conference showed the diversity of challenges facing young lawyers across Europe, and also the challenges that unite us.

Most jurisdictions shared concerns on the market flood of young lawyers in recent years, and a mixture of trepidation and excitement on the Susskind themes of changes in the delivery of legal services. Many saw a gradual, seeping erosion of the rule of law; and some were also concerned at the rhetoric surrounding human rights and public interest issues in their home media, and the effect this is having on the perception of young lawyers.

There was, however, much to be excited about. The conference was an affirming, uplifting event, which confirmed that, not only is legal practice becoming more global, but that there remains a raft of young people across the continent still hugely passionate about the profession. In these challenging times, that can only be a good thing.

Looking forward to the EYBA Spring Conference, its design will be similar in scope to the SYLA Annual Conference, focusing on the development of soft skills, business development and networking opportunities, with a progressive, global outlook. We encourage all young lawyers and their firms to attend the conference next March, and look forward to introducing Europe's young lawyers to what Scotland and our legal profession can offer.

Emma Boffey is Vice President of the Scottish Young Lawyers' Association

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