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President's column

13 July 15

Scotland had a significant presence on the world legal stage this past month, and the Society intends to put more emphasis on members’ potential internationally in its new strategy, soon to be launched

by Christine McLintock

Simply world class

A number of events this month highlight the benefits of sharing experience across jurisdictions and the positive influence that Scottish solicitors and legal academics have on an international stage.

Edinburgh hosted the annual International Legal Aid Group Conference, at which nearly 30 nations were represented. Delegates shared the outcome of research and various solutions designed to address access to justice issues, often technology led. One of the leading lights of ILAG is Professor Alan Paterson, a former Council member and convener of the Society’s Complaints Subcommittee.

Edinburgh also hosted the third Colloquium on the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Organised by Professor Elaine Sutherland, a member of the Family Law Committee, this group share best practice on implementation of the Convention across the globe. The theme for this event, “Doing the ‘best’ for children and young people? Best interests, welfare and well-being”, was particularly relevant to Scotland because of the way in which the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 seeks to bring into concrete reality tests of well-being consistent with the Convention.

To mark the 25th anniversary of our Brussels office, we jointly hosted a seminar focusing on the protection of the rule of law both at EU and national level, followed by a reception. It was a pleasure to meet a number of Brussels-based members at this event. We also hosted a meeting of the leaders of the Law Societies of Ireland, Northern Ireland, England & Wales and Scotland to discuss legal market reforms and the major issues challenging the solicitors’ profession.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Council of Law Reporting hosted its Fifth Macfadyen Lecture, at which the Rt Hon Beverley McLachlin, the Chief Justice of Canada, spoke on the need to maintain public confidence in the courts in the 21st century. She mentioned the need to improve civic education in schools on constitutional law issues, the rule of law, the role of lawyers and the role of judges and the court – something the Society is promoting in Scotland through our successful Street Law scheme – and she emphasised the benefits of comparative analysis of the law.

It is perhaps no surprise then that in our new strategy, to be launched later this summer, the Society has recognised the need for the Society and its members to be able to excel not just at home but on a national and international stage.

Still proud after all these years

I had a wonderful time welcoming 65 new solicitors to the profession in the gracious surroundings of the Signet Library. Our guest speaker was Shonaig Macpherson, whose successful and diverse career is testament to the opportunities open to those blessed with the skills of a Scottish solicitor.

Our profession is not only a significant economic generator in its own right – ours is a profession that is critical to Scotland’s other key sectors. It also provides advice and assistance to individuals to guide them through the most important events in their lives. We deliver the legal aid system to those in need: this helps tackle inequality, encourages early resolution of problems, and protects fundamental rights. We are there to challenge any arbitrariness in the exercise of executive powers and stand as guardians of the rule of law.

My call to our new solicitors was to remember the importance of what they do to the society in which we live, to be proud of it, celebrate it, and respect their profession and all of their fellow solicitors. As I tweeted on the day I became the President of the Law Society of Scotland, I am proud to be a Scottish solicitor today, and every day.

Christine McLintock is president of the Law Society of Scotland – president@lawscot.org.uk Twitter: @Christinemclint

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