In-house lawyers news archive

ILG at the Society AGM

22 April 2013

Report from ILG on LSS AGM

In-house at the Society's AGM 2013 and panel discussion

For the first time ILG had a slot at the Law Society of Scotland's annual general meeting (AGM). This took place on 22 March in Edinburgh and was attended by over 100 people.

ILG Chair, Lynda Towers, presented the ILG report. She spoke of the successful free CPD programme which by the powers of video conference has reached in-house lawyers from the Western Isles to Gibraltar. She said that our 2012 annual conference was one of the ILG's most successful conferences in years. She also thanked Janet Hood and Colin Anderson for their many great years of service.

Looking ahead, she said that this year ILG hopes to get out and about and speak to people and focus on particular groups of in-house lawyers to better meet their needs.

A full report of the AGM and a link to access a video of the proceeding can be accessed here: AGM 2013.

The item at the AGM which caused most debate was the proposal for separate representation of the borrower and lender in conveyancing transactions (sep rep). If you work for a lender this will directly impact your organisation. If not you may still have a view on it.

What are the pros and cons?

At the AGM those in favour of sep rep said that it is needed to avoid conflicts of interest. Those against raised concerns about increased fees and time for lenders and ultimately borrowers.

What was decided?

The vote was overall in favour of the proposal to move to mandatory sep rep, which means the practice rules will now be drafted for a final vote at the Society's SGM in September. However some in-house lawyers who were present voted against sep rep and the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML), the body which represents Scottish lenders' interests, has publicly stated that it does not support it.

If you have views about sep rep, please feed them into us ahead of the final vote which is due to happen at the September AGM so we can represent your interests. For more information on the AGM, see the report and articles on this topic in the Journal.

Panel discussion

A lively panel discussion about the future of the legal profession followed the AGM. On the panel from the in-house arm of the profession was the inspirational Anne Mackenzie, of GHA Law LLP. Anne spoke about how her legal team demonstrates its value-add. This included using technology to generate visual reports for clients to show what they are doing for them, interacting with clients and managing risk via training, engaging with senior management by attending their meetings and constantly reviewing what they do and trying to create synergies and build trust. They are increasingly being drawn into the decision-making process.

Anne said that in-house functions should:

  • drive efficiencies in external legal spend
  • maintain profile and add value - training is key here
  • reach out to their clients, engaging, building relationships and trust to help become more proactive than reactive
  • measure their performance against the strategic objectives of the organisation, making sure performance matches the organisation's needs
  • always strive to perform excellent legal service

She said that "a strong legal team is an indispensable contributor to the success of any organisation". Clearly we just need to make sure we're demonstrating that value to our internal clients.

Society members can also view a video of the panel discussion, using the link from AGM 2013, or by logging in to the website.

By Sara Scott, Vice Chair, and Sheekha Saha, member of the ILG Committee