2016

Changing Shape of the Legal Profession: in-house survey

28 September 2016

As the legal profession continues to change shape, we're keen to find out more about the services supplied by in-house solicitors.

As part of our strategy ‘Leading Legal Excellence’, we set out our ambition to secure a modern, flexible legislative framework for the profession.

Much of the legislation covering the operation and regulation of the legal market is over 35 years old.  It’s increasingly out of date and unfit for purpose, which is why we want to gather information and evidence about the changing role of solicitors. 

We are particularly keen to engage with the in-house community and are carrying out a short survey to find out more about the services you provide. 

Take the survey here.

The survey is anonymous and should take less than ten minutes to complete.  It will be open until Friday 28 October 2016.

More information on our legislative priorities is available here.  Please contact us if you have any questions or would like to contribute further to this project.

 

In-House in London – Networking Event

5 September 2016

Invitation to a networking event for Scottish in-house solicitors in London. 

Are you an in-house solicitor working in London?  Would you value the opportunity to meet with like-minded lawyers? 

We’re keen to establish a strong network for Scottish in-house solicitors in London.  A forum where you can discuss the commercial realities of working in-house, hear about how others handle their diverse workloads, or simply widen your network. 
 
We'd like to invite in-house lawyers with a Scottish connection to our first event - an informal drinks reception where we can discuss what sort of shape this network might take. Details as follows:

Date - Wednesday 21st September
Time - 6.30pm to 8pm
Location - Titlesolv, 10 Fenchurch St, London, EC3M 3BE

We hope to hold some interesting events on a quarterly basis and we’re keen to know what you want out of these.  Whether it’s a formal presentation from a prominent in-house lawyer, a relaxed gin tasting session, or a bit of both – we’re open to your suggestions!

Please contact Beth Anderson, Head of Engagement for In-House Lawyers, if you’d like to join us.

 

New In-house Lawyers’ Committee Convener

4 July 2016

Full results from the 2016 ILC Convener election

Graeme McWilliams, Legal Adviser at Standard Life, has been appointed as convener of the Law Society of Scotland’s In-house Lawyers’ Committee (ILC).

In-house Lawyers’ Convener election results

Graeme McWilliams – 159 votes

Andrew Todd and Allan Steele – 76 votes

Total: 235 votes

Graeme joined the In-house Lawyers’ Group Committee, which last year became the ILC, in 2012 and has worked as an in-house lawyer at Standard Life since 1988. As ILC Convener, Graeme will also be a co-opted member of the Law Society Council and will lead and support the in-house community for the next three years.

Beth Anderson, Head of Member Engagement for In-house Lawyers at the Law Society, said: "Graeme brings a great deal of experience and enthusiasm to the role of ILC Convener and I want to congratulate him on his appointment. I look forward to working with Graeme over the next three years to represent, support and promote the interests of Law Society members working in-house in Scotland and beyond.

“I also offer my thanks to Andrew Todd and Allan Steele for putting their names forward. I know they will continue to help lead legal excellence and promote the in-house community as dedicated members of the ILC.”

Graeme McWilliams said: “It is a great honour and privilege to have been selected by my fellow in-house lawyers to serve as Convener of the In-House Lawyers’ Committee, particularly when our sector makes up about a third of the profession.

“It is also a major responsibility, which I will undertake with the same enthusiasm and commitment as Lynda Towers, our outgoing Convener, who worked tirelessly to transition to the Society’s new In-House Lawyers’ Committee. I would like to express my sincere thanks to Lynda on behalf of all of our members.

“These are very challenging times for us all, and the ILC will continue to champion the in-house community, support the Society’s pursuit of legal excellence, and make a real difference for in-house members in both the private and public sectors.”

The ILC was set up in 2015 to represent, support and promote the interests of Law Society members working in-house in Scotland and beyond.  It continues the work of the ILG Committee, which was established in 1973 as an independent committee of the Society.

Brussels Agenda: in-house focus

20 June 2016

Latest edition of the Brussels Agenda features articles by and for in-house solicitors. 

The Society’s joint Brussels office, shared with the Law Society of England & Wales and the Law Society of Northern Ireland, publishes a monthly bulletin for solicitors across the three jurisdictions.

The most recent edition of the Brussels Agenda (published in mid-June 2016) focuses squarely on in-house solicitors: their role, their challenges and their aspirations.

Features include:

  • The Evolution of the In-House Lawyer by Lynda Towers, outgoing Convener of the In-House Lawyers Committee of the Law Society of Scotland
  • In-House Lawyers in Business by Janice More, Executive Director and General Counsel at The Law Society of England & Wales
  • Key Challenges for Aspiring In-House Lawyers by JP Irvine, General Counsel and Company Secretary at Translink in Northern Ireland
  • Profiles of two in-house lawyers working in Scotland who started their legal careers elsewhere in Europe
  • Legal Professional Privilege for In-House Lawyers: the European context, a reminder of the current position from the Brussels office
  • How to Successfully Progress your In-House Career by Robert Bourns, Vice President of The Law Society of England & Wales 

Read the June 2016 edition of the Agenda for these insights and more from the Brussels office.

To subscribe, email the Brussels Office or you can follow them on Twitter.

EU Referendum: in-house survey results

31 May 2016

Last month’s survey indicated a strong preference from respondents working in-house to remain part of the EU.

The survey, which sought views from our in-house members on how the EU impacts them and the organisations they work for, attracted 145 responses.  Around one third of respondents worked in the private sector and two thirds in the public sector.

Asked what their preferred outcome from the referendum would be: 85% of respondents hoped for a remain vote; 6% would prefer to leave the EU; and the remaining 9% didn’t know or declined to answer.

In relation to the impact of the EU on individuals: 78% of respondents thought it had a major or slightly positive impact on them professionally; 10% thought it had a major or slightly negative impact; and 12% said that the EU made no difference to them professionally.

As for the impact of the EU on businesses and organisations: 83% thought it had a major or slightly positive impact on their employer; 10% thought it had a major or slightly negative impact; and 7% said that the EU made no difference to their employer.

The Law Society of Scotland is a firmly non-partisan organisation.  We recognise that there are differing views within the profession and continue to take a neutral stance.  Respondents to our survey were, however, keen to share their individual opinions on the positive and negative impacts of the EU.  A selection of those responses is below.

Positive

  • "Freedom of movement of trade and people within the EU is a great bonus for in-house lawyers."
  • "The EU has been a source of a huge amount of positive labour legislation, consumer protection and sector specific rules in my sector (financial services).  Being part of a wider group provides opportunities, influence and relative stability."
  • "My employer only exists because of the barrier-free EU."
  • "The EU has been the driving force for equality legislation."

Negative

  • "The laws which emanate from the EU have a stifling effect (through overly prescriptive regulation) on my organisation which is an SME."
  • "My perception is that the EU creates lots of ‘red tape’."
  • "Employment, data protection and procurement are highly lucrative areas for some lawyers, but as an in-house lawyer, for my client, these areas of European law are very complex and expensive to negotiate."
  • "We are over regulated and over represented."

To help inform the debate, the Society has issued a discussion paper on the issues raised by the referendum.

We're also hosting an event on 16 June where Ian Forrester QC will deliver a lecture on the origins and successes of the European Union as well as its problems and challenges. Register here.

Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014

5 April 2016

Can an in-house solicitor employed by a local authority advise both their employer and an “integration joint board” set up by their employer and the Health Board under the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014? 

The Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014, came into force on 1 April 2016. This legislation implements health and social care integration by bringing together NHS and local authority care services under one partnership arrangement for each area.

Q. Can an in-house solicitor employed by a local authority advise both their employer and an “integration joint board” set up by their employer and the Health Board?

Yes - the opinion of the Society’s professional practice team is that such solicitors may advise both their employers (the local authority) and an integration joint board, as long as there is no conflict of interest with their employers and providing any issues of confidentiality are addressed. Often there will be a common interest that the board and the authority wish to achieve, and in such cases there would clearly not be a problem.   

However as individuals, solicitors should be aware of potential conflicts and issues such as privilege and confidentiality.  For example a solicitor might know something from their work for the local authority, which might be relevant to the joint integration board, which they could be precluded from divulging to the board because of duties of confidentiality to the local authority.  Conflict of interest is matter which can only really be considered on its own individual circumstances.  It is up to the solicitor to assess the risks in any particular case however help is available from the Society’s professional practice team – who can be contacted on 0131 226 8896 or on profprac@lawscot.org.uk.

A service level agreement, between the local authority and the integration joint board, might assist. It could set out the scope of the agreement to provide legal services and include issues such as the possibility that the solicitor may have to withdraw from acting in certain circumstances. It could also be used to consider the need for insurance and to specify that the solicitor will not incur personal liability.

21st Century Bar Conference report

29 January 2016

Court reform dominated discussions at the 15th annual 21st Century Bar Conferencewhere Lord Carloway gave the keynote address

21st Century Bar Conference reception - celebrating 15 years and counting…

Wet and windy conditions did not deter attendees from gathering on 3rd December 2016 for a reception in celebration of the 15th annual 21st Century Bar Conference.

The reception was held at the Reading Room of the Advocates Library at Parliament House. Guests included the President of the Law Society, Christine McLintock; the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, James Wolffe QC; 10 QCs; and two judges.

Christine Mclintock And James Wolffe

Law Society President Christine McLintock and Dean of the Faculty of Advocates James Wolffe QC

The President paid tribute to the contribution of Colin Anderson, then vice chair of the In-House Lawyers’ Group (now member of the Board and Council of the Society) and Lord Malcolm (then Vice Dean of the Faculty) in setting up the annual bar conference for in-house lawyers in 2000. She also expressed the sincere gratitude of the Society to the Faculty, its office bearers, and its members for all the hard work involved in making these conferences so consistently well received.

Lord Malcolm And Colin Anderson

Lord Malcolm and Colin Anderson

Over 55 Faculty members have been speakers and chairs at these events, including 28 QCs and 7 holders of judicial office, showcasing the talents of the Scottish Bar and celebrating the important collaboration between the Faculty and in-house lawyers.  

The Dean thanked the President for her tribute and looked forward to many more of these annual conferences.      

All those present enjoyed a chance to network with conference colleagues and celebrate a milestone achievement.      

Report by Graeme McWilliams, Legal Adviser at Standard Life plc and In-House Lawyers’ Committee member

 

Court reform dominated discussions at the 15th annual 21st Century Bar Conference

The following day James Wolffe QC, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates, welcomed delegates to the 21st Century Bar Conference.    

The morning session was chaired by Laura Dunlop QC and began with a keynote address by the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Clerk, now Lord President Carloway.  Lord Carloway put particular emphasis on reform of the Scottish court system.  During a highly topical speech, he stated:

“Court reform is never complete. Our courts must be ready to adapt and respond to progressions and innovations in society. They should do so with a modern outlook but at the same time reflecting upon historical experience.”

He asked at one point:

“What is more likely to be true: a record of an event as caught on camera and a video recorded statement made by a witness in the hours immediately following an event, or the oral testimony of a witness at a proof months or perhaps years later?”

Lord Carloway emphasised the continuing importance of oral testimony in court. However, he firmly stated:

“The days of the lengthy proof with oral testimony will soon be over. Such diets are time consuming, expensive and unnecessary. They do not operate in the matter best suited to the ascertainment of truth. They are not consistent with modern ideas of justice.”

The keynote address was followed by updates on a range of topics including: Employment Law by Graeme Dalgleish, Advocate; Contract Law by Ross Anderson, Advocate; Bribery Act and Proceeds of Crime by Bryan Heaney, Advocate; Intellectual Property by Kathryn Pickard, Advocate; and Legal Professional Privilege by Alastair  Duncan QC.

The afternoon session, chaired by Kenneth Campbell QC and Graeme McWilliams from the In-House Lawyers’ Committee, included updates on: Public Procurement by Ruth Crawford QC; Court Reform by Andrew Stewart QC; Data Protection by Morag Ross, Advocate; and Company Law by David Sellar QC.

Graeme finished the afternoon by paying tribute to the Faculty and its members and staff for all their hard work in ensuring the success of this 15th annual conference.

This event was open to all in-house members and in-house trainees and there was ample time for networking with Faculty members and devils.

The conference ended with a tour of the historic Parliament House (including the rather eerie lower hall) and a drinks reception in the Reading Room of the Advocates Library.  Reflecting on the day, it did feel as if Scots law could have the very best of the old and the new in court reform, legal scholarship and advocacy.  

Read Lord Carloway’s full speech

Report by Sharon Wares, Solicitor at The Highland Council and In-House Lawyers’ Committee member