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Society to expand support against recession

30 January 2009

The Law Society of Scotland is looking at further ways to help practitioners with business management and development to counteract the effects of the recession, the January Council meeting heard today.

Deputy chief executive Henry Robson told the meeting that work was progressing well on establishing a panel of business consultants to offer advice to those facing challenges in the current climate. Firms in the Highlands might also be able access business workshops organised by Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Engagement with the banks and Council of Mortgage Lenders was also taking place to continue to promote the importance of the legal sector. 

Mr Robson added that there were still real concerns about redundancies among solicitors and difficulties with traineeships. The Society's Education and Training Department was offering to hold meetings with trainees and students to offer advice and support. 

"Far reaching" changes

Council was also briefed on the "far reaching" proposals in the Scottish Government's consultation paper Wider choice and better protection, on alternative business structures and reform of legal services.

The paper, published earlier this month, examines issues relating to regulation, the ownership of organisations providing legal services and the future role of the Society and Faculty of Advocates.

It has implications for the future governance structure of the Society, with the size of Council and a likely increase in non-lawyer involvement both featuring in the consultation paper.

Council member Alistair Morris described the paper as “far reaching”, and likely to lead to regulation of the “entity” providing legal services, rather than individual solicitors.

The Society is drawing up a response to the consultation, which ends at the beginning of April. The Legal Profession (Scotland) Bill is expected to be introduced before the summer recess.

In a separate discussion on governance, members agreed the process to be followed by the new Nominations Committee, which will oversee the selection of committee members and help the Council to appoint conveners. Committee convener Cameron Ritchie said reform was needed to ensure good governance and transparency.

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