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Lawyer in call for compulsory pro bono

4 June 2010

A Glasgow solicitor has sent an open letter to all of Scotland's 129 MSPs calling for lawyers to be required to give some time every year working free for good causes.

Raymond McLennan, an intellectual property lawyer at Morisons in Edinburgh, raised the idea in a blog on innovation in the legal business and how to progress and improve standards of living for everyone.

He has since written to Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill to propose that a clause be inserted into the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill to commit all lawyers working in Scotland to donate a minimum of 20 hours a year to pro-bono work for the poor and needy, as part of their requirement to renew their annual practising certificate.

He added: "Yes, lawyers are in business to make a profit and to make money, but they also want to make a difference. This is an opportunity to make that difference, to give something back and set a principled example to make Scotland and Scots Law unique in the world once again."

The letter has been copied to all MSPs.

The Parliament considers the detail of the Legal Services Bill at stage 2 this month.

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Malcolm Cameron

Sunday June 6, 2010, 09:26

It is commendable that Mr McLennan donates his professional services to the populace, but short sighted and sanctimonious that he demands that others to follow his lead. I wonder if it occurs to him that "compulsory charity" is an oxymoron?

Raymond McLennan

Friday June 11, 2010, 13:10

It has been pointed out to me that Richard Susskind wrote in "The End of Lawyers?" at p249: "in relation to pro bono work...the support of professional bodies could be invaluable here, with a view perhaps to committing every firm, in due course, to providing a minimum number of contributions each year".

No one could accuse him of being short-sighted.

But rather than condemn the idea, we need to address the challenges of the future. Do you have any ideas of your own?