Council reports 2015

Council Meeting, 29 May 2015

President and Vice President

The first all-female presidential team in the Society’s 66-year history today took up their posts.

Solicitor Christine McLintock was installed as the 2015/16 President, while Eilidh Wiseman, Convener of the Society’s Education and Training Committee, became Vice President.

Christine, the second female President, told Council members: “It is a signal honour and a privilege to become the President of the Law Society and I am very aware of the responsibility attaching to the role.”

She highlighted a number of issues that could feature during her presidency, including the potential arrival of new business structures, access to justice and the reform of legal aid, political change, promoting the legal education system, fair access and equality and diversity in the solicitors’ profession, and improving the way the Society works.

Christine said: “It promises to be another busy, challenging and rewarding year for all of us and I am excited and enthusiastic to play my part in this chapter of the Society’s story.”

She added that she expected Eilidh to be a “fantastic Vice President and a wonderful support to us all as an office bearer”.

She also highlighted the “wisdom and expertise” of her predecessor, Alistair Morris, who received the past president’s medal. She described him as “passionate, committed and hardworking”.

 

Legislative reform

A working party is to be set up to oversee the Society’s input to a possible new Bill on the legal profession, the Council agreed.

Issues to be examined by the working party could include non-solicitor membership of the Society, further work on entity regulation and charging and the findings of the Guarantee Fund review, according to a paper before Council members.

The working party will provide advice and guidance, oversee any necessary consultation with members, report regularly to the Board and the Council and prepare submissions to the Scottish Government.

During a debate, Council members discussed how a Bill might help the Society meet the aims set out in its new strategy, Tomorrow’s Law Society.

A report before the Council outlining the case for legislation said the current legal framework surrounding the Scottish legal profession was a patchwork and should be modernised.

It said: “The Scottish legal services market has changed dramatically in recent years. The Scottish legal profession faces strong competitive pressures, but also strategic opportunities, particularly internationally.

“But the regulatory framework has not kept pace with changes in the marketplace, and is not well adapted to present challenges or opportunities – for consumers, for the profession, for the Society or for Scotland as a whole.

“The Society therefore considers that there is a compelling case for a strategic package of empowering reforms, which could be taken forward in a freestanding Bill in a forthcoming legislative programme.”

The Council also agreed that the previously established review of the Society’s rules should be suspended to allow the legislative reform work to take priority.

 

Council members

Society President Christine McLintock welcomed a number of new Council members, while paying tribute to those retiring.

The new Council members were: Galashiels solicitor Iain Burke and sole practitioner Patricia Thom, representing the constituency of Duns, Haddington, Jedburgh, Peebles & Selkirk; Murray Etherington, in Arbroath, Dundee & Forfar; Philip Lafferty and Campbell Read, for Campbeltown, Dumbarton, Dunoon, Fort William, Oban & Rothesay; and, Naomi Pryde, the first elected representative for England and Wales.

Christine said: “I hope that you will find your time on the Society’s Council both enjoyable and informative.”

She also thanked three members leaving the Council: former president Bruce Beveridge, who laid the foundations for a “huge programme” of governance reform and raised the profile of the Society during changes to the justice system; former chairman of the In-House Lawyers’ Group and current Convener of the Equality and Diversity Committee, Janet Hood, the second longest serving member of the Council, at 17 years; and, Roy Lumsden, the former representative for Alloa, Falkirk, Linlithgow and Stirling, who took an active interest in the Society’s Legal Aid Strategic Review.