New year, new plan
With the start of its 2018-19 practice year, the Society has published its latest annual plan containing its key projects for the year. Here are the highlights
A total of 31 objectives are included in the Law Society of Scotland’s annual plan for 2018-19.
The annual plan – the fourth since its Leading Legal Excellence strategy was adopted in 2015 – sets out projects under each of the Society’s five strategic goals to assure, serve, excel, influence and grow.
Projects will be delivered by teams working in Regulation; Member Services & Engagement; External Relations; Education, Training & Qualifications, and Finance & Operations.
Improving the system for regulating solicitors will remain a key area for the Society in 2018-19. Key areas of work to assure members’ clients and others will include:
- using the report of the independent review of legal services regulation to build a consensus in creating a new, flexible and permissive legislative framework;
- reviewing existing procedures for investigating complaints against solicitors, and seeking final authorisation as an approved regulator of licensed legal services providers;
- enhancing its role as an anti-money laundering supervisor by implementing recommendations of the Office for Professional Body Anti-Money Laundering Supervision;
- undertaking research with a view to enhancing specialist accreditation, and creating new categories;
- embedding the processes and guidance around the new admission regulations and allow, subject to the Lord President’s approval, early admission by trainees;
- introducing changes to outcomes required from the current process to qualify as a solicitor, and working towards a solicitor apprenticeship route to qualification.
Supporting members as they innovate and embrace new technology will be a priority in the year ahead. This will include:
- creating a range of world-class new services for members, with a focus on business growth, career development, technology and alternative dispute resolution;
- driving innovation in legal technology, including LawscotTech, a hub that matches legal expertise with technology talent;
- improving CPD and training, using new online platforms, creating content and developing an accredited CPD programme for paralegals.
- The Society will also serve its members by: making services and registration processes easier and simpler to use through “self-serve” online platforms;
- improving news, updates and information by integrating the Lawscot and Journal Online websites;
- addressing wellbeing issues.
As the Society approaches its platinum anniversary, it will be using this major milestone to showcase the contribution of Scottish solicitors over the past 70 years. In aiming to excel as a world-class organisation, it will:
- transform administrative processes by making use of digital technologies to streamline workflows and minimise the use of paper;
- review interventions in legal firms, including judicial factors, to ensure the current approach is effective and efficient;
- improve processes for internal reporting to the Council, board and committees by better using technology and automation.
In representing the interests of Scottish solicitors and the public they serve, the Society will continue to prioritise access to justice and fair access to the profession by:
- building on the independent review of legal aid, pushing for additional funding for Scotland’s legal aid system and reasonable fee rates;
- taking forward the action plan in response to the Scottish Parliament Justice Committee’s Fair Access to the Legal Profession report, expanding the Street Law programme, encouraging fair and open recruitment processes and supporting the Lawscot Foundation;
- continuing to provide a leading, non-partisan voice, as the UK moves towards leaving the EU in March 2019, ensuring the interests of the profession and the public are properly considered.
- In other work to influence society around us, the Society will:
- seek to ensure that, post-Brexit, members maintain access to international clients and markets and have access to resources devoted to promoting legal services internationally;
- undertake new proactive policy projects on reform of cohabitants’ rights and improvements to the treatment of vulnerable people in the criminal justice system.
The Society aims to grow its membership and income to ensure it remains a vibrant and sustainable organisation. Actions include:
To find the full annual plan, go to www.lawscot.org.uk/annualplan
- growing the number of practising members to 12,000, and accredited paralegals to 630;
- expanding the student associate scheme by recruiting 500 new associate members, and adding 100 legal technologists with the launch of this new associate membership category;
- continuing to grow non-core income to £2.3 million, including working to identify prospective investment opportunities.