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Solicitors still support Society retaining dual role, survey finds

13 March 2019

Scottish solicitors support the Law Society of Scotland continuing to regulate them as well as represent their interests, according to independent research published today.

Independent research of members' views carried out for the Society found that 93% of respondents agree that it should continue to be responsible for representation, support and regulation of solicitors in Scotland. In addition, 91% agree that the Society is an effective regulator of the solicitor profession.

The telephone survey of 512 solicitors and trainee solicitors, carried out by Mark Diffley Consultancy & Research, and Survation, also questioned them on what the Society's priorities should be. It found that 73% of respondents consider representing the profession on regulatory changes to be a high priority, the same precentage think investigating conduct complaints against solicitors should be a high priority, and 83% that another high priority should be intervening in law firms where a critical failure has been identified.

The results follow the publication of a report into the future of the regulation of legal services in Scotland by Esther Roberton in October last year. The report’s central recommendation is to create a new single regulator for the whole of the Scottish legal profession, which the Society opposes because of potential unnecessary risk to consumer protection and increased costs.

Asked about the biggest single issue facing Scottish solicitors, the top answer was Brexit. While 17% stated this (followed by "financial sustainability of my business" at 11%), 24% said it had featured "a great deal" or "a fair amount" in advice given to clients, and 53% thought Brexit would have a negative impact on their business over the next two years, with just 7% thinking it would have a positive impact. Confidentce in economic prospects has fallen friom 49% in 2017 to 39% in 2018.

Fully 95% of respondents said they were proud to be part of the Scottish legal profession. The Journal was regarded as a good quality, trusted magazine by 90%, the same number as said the Society kept them well informed with accurate and reliable information.

Alison Atack, President of the Law Society of Scotland commented: “The independent research shows that an overwhelming majority of Scottish solicitors agree that the Law Society should continue to both regulate and represent solicitors.

“The Law Society has 70 years of experience of setting and upholding education and entry standards to the profession, setting practice and ethical standards and auditing and upholding financial compliance.

“There is little evidence within Esther Roberton’s report to support the need for a new regulator, which could increase costs for consumers and weaken professional standards. We do agree with the majority of her recommendations and welcome her call for more flexible legislation to ensure the regulatory structure can keep pace with a rapidly changing market in legal services.”

Click here to access the research report (under "Annual members' survey").

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