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President's column

10 December 18

My own – and the Society’s – engagement with members continues, on subjects from using new technology, to the Roberton review, to members’ views of the Society. Have you taken the chance to join in?

by Alison Atack

I’ve said it before but it’s definitely worth repeating: meeting solicitors and accredited paralegals the length and breadth of the country has been such a pleasure and is a real highlight of my presidency. Your feedback – whether good or bad – is key to the work of the Law Society of Scotland.

You may also have had a chance to go along to one of the LawscotTech launch events that have recently taken place in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow. These events are bringing together the profession’s expertise with technology experts to look at developing solutions specifically for the legal sector. You don’t have to be a techie to get involved – if you have identified an area you think could benefit from a technological solution, from streamlining your firm’s admin processes to improving access to justice for people, then get in touch. The LawscotTech team are keen to hear from you.

Engaging with the review

I have also met members at a number of meetings organised by your Society Council members to discuss the recommendations put forward from the Scottish Government’s independent review of the regulation of legal services carried out by Esther Roberton. The main recommendation is to create a new single regulatory body and remove the regulatory role of the Law Society of Scotland in regulating Scottish solicitors. She recommends the same for the Faculty of Advocates and Association of Commercial Attorneys. The Society’s regulatory role includes setting and enforcing standards in qualifying as a solicitor, accrediting degrees, anti-money laundering supervision in a world where the profession is a target for cybercrime, inspecting law firms and managing the client protection fund, which protects consumers from financial loss through the dishonesty of a solicitor or their staff.

While we strongly oppose the overarching recommendation for a single independent regulatory body, because of the unnecessary risk it places on protecting consumers and higher costs, there are several proposals that we want to see happen. We are keen to hear your views on how we move forward on this. You can read more about the report and our reaction to it on our website.

Surveys, and results

Speaking of feedback, our annual members’ survey is currently underway with a cross-section of our members selected at random to take part in telephone interviews. This year Mark Diffley Consulting & Research, and Survation, have been appointed to carry out this research so I’d encourage you to take part if you receive a call – your views play an important role in shaping what we do.

As the Journal went to press, the Society was getting ready to publish the results of its biggest survey with the Scottish legal profession into equality and diversity matters. The research Profile of the Profession shows that the legal sector has made great progress in the past five years in reducing the gender pay gap, but also highlights that there is room for improvement in other areas. The research will be published on the Society’s website. 

Christmas spirit

In the run-up to Christmas, it’s always good to give and so I was delighted to hear that my Society colleagues have raised a fantastic £8,669 for Ovarian Cancer Action over the past 12 months, in memory of much missed colleague Jeune Robertson, who sadly passed away from the disease last year.

And now’s my chance to ask you to dig deep and support a very worthy cause – the Lawscot Foundation. The charity’s annual BaubleFest fundraiser will help support talented youngsters from disadvantaged backgrounds through university and onwards to help them realise their dream of becoming a solicitor. For every donation made during BaubleFest (3-21 December), a bauble featuring the name of generous individuals or organisations will be added to the Law Society of Scotland’s Christmas tree and shared across social media. The Foundation, which was set up by the Society in 2016, is currently helping to fund 17 students through their legal education journey. Some have been in care; some have been homeless; all of them have beaten the odds to achieve academic excellence and make it to university. Please visit the website to donate today. Thank you!

Christmas is a sad or difficult time for some members of the profession. The Lawscot Wellbeing section of our website is a great source of practical information, and signposts you to specialist organisations that can help you with specific issues including stress and depression. There’s even a section for solicitors who have concerns about their clients. Visit the Society's website for more information.

However you spend Christmas, I hope it’s healthy and restful.

Alison Atack is President of the Law Society of Scotland president@lawscot.org.uk

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