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Linking effectively with local faculties of solicitors is key to ensuring that the Society, your Council members and office bearers within the Society listen to members' views, give information to the profession about the Society's work and do the best possible job of representing members' interests.
This section of the website provides a fixed point of reference for all faculties and a source of updated information about matters of interest, including free or low cost CPD available from the Society via the faculty network.
President Eilidh Wiseman and Vice President Graham Matthews took up office on 31 May 2016. 2016 was year 3 of a wider 3 year rolling cycle of visits whereby within that 3 year period, all faculties will have had the offer of a visit to their area.
During 2015-16, the President, Vice President, Council Members and Society staff, including the Chief Executive visited 17 constituency locations across Scotland meeting 430 members from Lerwick to Stranraer, answering questions and taking questions on board, to respond to and act on back at the Society offices.
Future visits will to be worked out so as to continue to ensure fair coverage across the country and crucially, not to clash with important local events as well as fitting in between the President and Vice President’s other engagements.
If you would like to keep in touch with the planning of these visits or if your faculty would particularly like a visit please contact Laura Malcolm.
Where Has the President Been?
In the first quarter of the 2016-17 practice year, and before the turn of the calendar year, President Eilidh Wiseman visited Ayr, the GBA, Dundee, Portree, Dingwall, Elgin and Banff.
Very useful conversations were held in relation to members' concerns and priorities and the Society is taking forward some great ideas that were shared, and will feed back to Scottish Government and other stakeholders some of the concerns that were raised.
Over the last three years the Presidents and Vice Presidents have together visited over 50 locations, have invited members from all the faculties across Scotland and have met approximately 1,500 high street members.
Where we were in Nov and Dec 2016:
Ayr, 1 November: Eilidh Wiseman, President with Norman Geddes, Dean of Faculty and a great turnout of members.
Glasgow 1 November 2016: Eilidh, Vice President Graham Matthews and members of the Criminal Legal Aid Committee met with members and committee members of the Glasgow Bar Association.
Dundee 8 November 2016: a great number of Dundee practitioners met with the President.
Portree 13 December 2016. The President en-route in the most beautiful Scottish winter weather and then meeting all but one of all the solicitors working on Skye as well as their colleague based in Kyle of Kochalsh.
Dingwall, the next day, 14 Dec. at lunchtime. Eilidh with Ian Hanvidge, Dean of Faculty and members
Elgin, that evening. Eilidh and Grahan Matthews Vice President making their final stop in the largest geographical Council constituency in Scotland.
Banff 15 Dec. Eilidh and Graham visited Graham's home patch where he is Council Member as well as Vice President. Despite the pre-Christmas court running late, a good turnout managed along and vibrant discussion ensued.
The next series of Presidential visits during spring 2017 is in planning and visits will be advertised shortly.
We are also timetabling a parallel series of Faculty visits for 2016-17 on core issues including How to Minimise exposure to Cyber Crime, Anti Money-Laundering workshops and a new workshop on How to get the Best From Your Smartcard as well as regulatory topics such as Professional Practice issues, Complaints Avoidance etc. Please speak to your faculty secretary if you would like to request one of these talks.
We will continue to use the Society e-bulletin and dedicated pages of the website to spread information and seek comments on issues affecting high street members including sole practitioners, as well as the LinkedIn page and the Council Member network.
From 2014-18 the world is marking the centenary of the Great War. Scottish soldiers and regiments played a vital role and paid a heavy cost for their brave service during the conflict. Anecdotal evidence tells of the contribution of members of the Scottish legal profession who served and fell but until now there has been no lasting memorial to stand testament to this sacrifice. We believe it is only right and fitting that such a memorial should be created and as comprehensive a record as possible compiled to honour those members of our profession from across Scotland who fell.
It is our belief that this memorial should be more than a simple plaque or monument. To truly tell the story of the contribution of our profession, we want to create a single national repository detailing those who served, those who led others and those who did not come home. Throughout this year, we will encourage members of the public to come forward with stories, pictures and any other information on the lives of those who served.
It will of course only be possible to create a comprehensive record of the military service of our profession with the help of the Faculties, Societies and Associations such as yourselves. Your long-standing role in society and civic Scotland as well as the diligent records kept before, during and after the war years will be truly invaluable to the success of this project and we dearly hope you will be able to help. Of particular value would be records of deaths, journal articles from the period, photographs and any previous research which may have been carried out.
A plaque has been erected at the Law Society’s offices, to commemorate the centenary of the conflict. It was unveiled and dedicated on Monday 30th March 2015.
Will search database The Royal Faculty of Procurators of Glasgow has set up a will search mailing list for firms in and around Glasgow. Where a firm needs to locate wills or other documents a check can be done quickly and easily across all the firms taking part in the scheme. If you would like to take part in this scheme, all that is required is to nominate one person from within your firm to act as the point of contact. This can be anyone within the firm who would be able: (a) submit queries to the RFPG to forward to the will search mailing list and (b) respond to any queries sent to the mailing list. To nominate a contact for the scheme please email the contact's name and email address to firstname.lastname@example.org
Kilmarnock Faculty CPD programme The Kilmarnock Faculty runs a very full and successful CPD programme for its members throughout the year. A recent and successful initiative has been to open its programme to law students at no charge. Although students do not require to carry out CPD, this is a very valuable means by which they can learn about the reality of life as a practising solicitor and make links with local firms. Members can also benefit by familiarising themselves with local students who may decide in future years to return to the town to seek their traineeship or employment. Other faculty Secretaries or CPD Secretaries who would like to learn more are welcome to contact Martha Clark, CPD Secretary at Kilmarnock.
Dundee Faculty have instituted their own newsletter which is sent to all members of faculty and interested others on a regular basis to promote discussion groups, social events and spread other relevant professional information locally. If you would like to be added to the mailing list please contact the Faculty Secretary.
Courts - closures, reform and Taylor - what do these mean for your faculty? There are a number of changes to the way in which court business will operate, and which may affect you and your faculty.
Ten Sheriff Courts were closed between November 2013 and January 2015: Arbroath, Cupar, Dingwall, Dornoch, Duns, Haddington, Kirkcudbright, Peebles, Rothesay and Stonehaven, with Dornoch, Kircudbright and Rothesay closed in November 2013; a number of JP courts are also closing.
The implementation of the Taylor Review, now contained within The Courts Reform (S) Bill and making its way through the Scottish Parliament, will see legislation to introduce summary sheriffs, establish judicial specialisms, introduce a new specialist personal injury court and increase the privative jurisdiction threshold for the Court of Session. A number of changes to the way in which PI, commercial and other actions would be dealt with are also proposed.
Faculty members may have a number of questions:
Closure of the local sheriff court may raise raise questions for the faculties associated with these sheriffdoms:
We can arrange to visit your faculty if you are affected by the coming reforms and closures and would like to discuss the various ways in which your faculty can manage these changes and how the Society might assist you. Please contact Laura Malcolm for further details.
Many groups find that a simple website offers an efficient and flexible method of spreading information to existing members and attracting new members. The Society recommends this approach and the faculties which do have websites or Facebook pages are listed below. If your faculty has a site or a Facebook page which is not listed, please contact Laura Malcolm and we will add it in so that others can find you.
It is difficult for trainees to find placements at present and there are many flexible ways for firms which may be considering taking a trainee to do so. For example, trainees can be 'shared' between firms should there be insufficient work to justify offering a conventional two-year placement. Any firm which wishes to explore the options should contact Katie Wood at the Society who will be happy to discuss the possibilities.
Faculties that would like to increase the number of younger members, and trainees and NQs who would like further details of the continuing and varied support offered by the Society, should contact Olivia Parker at the Society.
The Scottish Forum of the Legal Sector Alliance meets alternately in Glasgow and Edinburgh. The Alliance includes legal firms which aim to reduce their carbon footprint and to develop sustainable environmental practices.
Join the Alliance and find out what the obligations on business are and what the legal profession can do to put our own house in order and keep clients informed.
The Wise Group operates the Energy Saving Scotland advice centre, Strathclyde and Central on behalf of the Energy Saving Trust giving impartial, accurate and independent advice to householders, communities and businesses on ways to reduce carbon emissions, how to use water more sustainably and how to save money on energy bills.
In addition to providing free and impartial advice, The Wise Group can help businesses to take advantage of government funded schemes, tax incentives and interest-free loans to help finance improvements.
There is currently a fund available from Skills Development Scotland for firms with fewer than 100 employees to recover some of their training costs. Funding is available for up to 10 employees per business and the money is not a loan. Skills Development Scotland will refund up to 50% of each episode up to a maximum of £500 for each employee.
The Society has specifically asked SDS whether or not this can count for CPD. They have assured us that it can, although we would urge all members to double-check their own circumstances with Skills Development Scotland.