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President's column

17 April 17

Have you considered standing for Council? As your President can testify, it can lead on to many things

by Eilidh Wiseman

In this, my penultimate column as your President, I am hoping to inspire some of you to think about standing for election to the Law Society of Scotland’s Council in the forthcoming elections. It is not too late to put your name forward or to pick up the phone to our Registrar, the endlessly patient David Cullen, to chat through the process. [Deadline is 26 April: see notice at Journal, March 2017, 39 – Editor.] 

Little did I know, when I decided to stand in 2009, that only seven years later I would be elected your President and be privileged to carry out this role speaking on your behalf to the best of my ability. I use “speaking” advisedly. Throughout the last 10 months I have lost count of the number of conversations I have had with many of you, one-to-one, in faculty meetings, at conferences, presenting awards, in interest groups, with bar associations and, of course, at our offices at Atria One where many of our staff colleagues are also our members. It has been a joy, sometimes challenging, but I am always learning.

In-house talent

I attended one such meeting recently with around 25 of our members working within the legal team at RBS as part of their “Talent Academy” series. RBS has the largest grouping of our members in-house in the private sector. Their interest in how they can make a positive contribution to issues facing the wider profession was very refreshing. We had a very wide-ranging discussion from career progression, socio-economic inclusion, reform of legal aid, to qualities of strong leadership, innovation and technology and an insightful debate around how in-house solicitors can be drivers for change in the profession. It was stimulating – I shall miss this engagement greatly. 

Later this month I shall be part of the judging panel for the In-house Rising Star Award. If other years are anything to go by, the standard will be very high. It is great to see some of our earlier winners now engaged with Society committees and working groups.

Commonwealth perspective

As I write this I have just returned from the Commonwealth Law Conference, where I was struck yet again by the very real threats posed to our colleagues in other Commonwealth countries as they carry out their duties representing their clients, often in the most difficult of circumstances. Our colleagues look to their fellow lawyers in the UK to support them in their struggle to uphold the rule of law. We should ensure we are not found wanting. The independence of the judiciary was a hotly debated topic and we were privileged to hear the Rt Hon Sir Terence Etherton, Master of the Rolls, address us with his views.

With the recent Easter holiday and the promise of spring, I hope each of you managed to rest and relax over the break and perhaps had some time to reflect on the privilege we enjoy to be solicitors, entrusted by our clients to act honestly, with integrity and to safeguard their information, a truly great responsibility which we should cherish dearly.

Until next time,
Eilidh 

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