Kevin Lang, executive director of external relations, opens a series on those leading the Law Society of Scotland's new management structure
Tell us about your career so far…
At almost every stage, my career has gone in a direction I didn’t expect. I started off with the aim of working in science so got a university degree in chemistry. However, after graduating, I ended up working for an MP in the House of Commons. I then worked as head of communications for BAA when it owned and operated Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen airports. I very nearly became a Member of Parliament back in the 2010 election, before coming to work with the Society.
Why did you decide to join the Society?
Back in 2010, the Society was looking for a maternity cover for the head of communications. I thought it would be an interesting 12 month placement. Here I am, six years on, and still love working here.
Have your perceptions of the Society changed since you started?
Completely. Like many, I started off with an image of the Society as a pretty stuffy, traditional and old fashioned organisation. Instead, I’ve found it dynamic, fascinating and full of imaginative and committed people.
What have been the highlights for you personally?
As a senior manager, I think the most important contribution you can make is shaping your team and bringing in the right people to work with you. My teams in communications, policy, research and international are just outstanding. They make me proud and inspire me every day. Being able to work with them and lead the external relations team overall is and will always be my highlight.
What are the main issues that you think the Society/your department has to address at the moment?
Serving a modern profession and a changing legal market with a creaking Act of Parliament which is almost as old as me. It’s why I am part of the team pushing hard for new legislation that allows us to be more flexible, nimble and responsive as the legal market changes.
What has been the most surprising aspect of your work at the Society?
In my previous roles, I normally dealt with one solicitor who would give me one legal view which I would then run with. Here, with access to so many different solicitors, I’ve seen how you can get completely different legal views even on the same issue. It just goes to show how much of the law is down to judgment and interpretation.
What are you most looking forward to as part of the Society’s Leading Legal Excellence strategy?
Getting the new forms of membership agreed and launched. This is a bold step for the Society, but it is absolutely the right approach and will benefit our existing solicitor members as well as the new legal professionals who (hopefully) join up.
What’s your top tip for new lawyers?
Don’t leave decisions regarding your profession to others. This is your Law Society, so get involved, particularly on committees. I’d really like to see more younger lawyers get involved in our policy work. Those that do often contribute the most useful and innovative ideas.
If you could change only one thing for members, what would it be?
I wish I could get more money for members doing legal aid work. They do a fantastic job, both on the criminal and civil side, often under extremely difficult circumstances. Fees have been frozen or fallen in real terms over many years and I know that, for many members, doing legal aid is simply no longer commercially viable. It’s a real risk to access to justice in the future.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
With two young daughters, my family first and foremost. I’m also a keen runner, constantly trying to bring down my marathon time. I’m still politically active and also love to travel, particularly to the US where I have a target of getting to all 50 states (I’m at 31).