Skip to main content

Regulation tops Law Society member priorities in new poll

13 January 2014 | tagged News release

Key aspects of the Law Society of Scotland's regulatory role, including inspecting firms and intervening in critical situations, have emerged as the highest priorities for solicitors in a new poll published today.

In its annual survey of members' views, the Law Society commissioned Ipsos MORI to poll over 500 Scottish solicitors from across the profession on a range of issues. 

The survey included questions on what should be the Society's highest priorities.

The poll found that;

  • The Society's role in intervening in firms where a critical failure is identified was given the greatest importance, with 87% of members agreeing it should be a high priority.
  • 76% of members said it should be a high priority for the Society to inspect firms to ensure compliance with accounting rules.
  • 71% said investigating conduct complaints and prosecuting cases to the discipline tribunal should be a high priority.

Away from regulation, the Society's work in law reform and legal aid also came out as strong priorities for members.

Carole Ford, the non-solicitor Convener of the Society's Regulatory Committee, said:

"It is encouraging to see members placing such a high priority on the important regulatory work carried out by the Law Society. 

"There have of course been big changes as to how that work is overseen with a new Regulatory Committee set up following the 2010 legislation with substantially more involvement by non-solicitors. It is a responsibility which I and the rest of the Regulatory Committee take extremely seriously.

"Previous polling of the public showed the high levels of confidence and trust which people have in the solicitor profession. However, we can never take that position for granted. After all, it is in the interests of solicitors as well as the public to have a strong system of regulation, maintaining high standards, proactively inspecting firms and taking action in the small minority of cases when issues of misconduct arise. These new survey results underline the importance which solicitors across Scotland place on that work."

Philip Yelland, the Director of Regulation at the Society, said:

"The last two years have been particularly challenging, not least because of the increased number of judicial factors, with one on a scale which we have never seen before. This all brought added pressures for both the interventions and complaints teams and was why we have invested extra resource.

"It is also encouraging to see such positive feedback which we regularly get from firms in response to our financial compliance inspection teams. That said, there is always room for improvement and we are keen to hear from members as to what more we can do and what we can do better."

Commenting on the other areas where members highlighted as a priority, Law Society President Bruce Beveridge said:

"It is encouraging to see members highlighting some critical areas where the Law Society is already focusing its resources. 

"We know solicitors care about good law and the passing of effective legislation. After all, our members work with Scots law day in and day out and understand how critical it is for our society. Our law reform team carefully scrutinises legislation coming from Holyrood, Westminster and the EU, engaging with politicians from across the political spectrum. Our recent work on the current Criminal Justice Bill has been particularly important given the plans to end the requirement for corroborated evidence, something the whole of the legal profession in Scotland is deeply concerned about.

"Equally we know legal aid is a priority, even for those who do not practise it. Our polling has shown significant public support for legal aid and concerns over the potential impact of cuts. This will be a particularly important year, given the expected consultation on contracting in criminal legal aid and our access to justice team will be following up the detailed research we have already published to ensure our members' voices are heard.

"Conveyancing issues have also come out as a priority. With the debate having been dominated by the issue of separate representation, we are now pushing for improvements to the Council of Mortgage Lenders' handbook and acting on members' concerns regarding the new panel management systems and charging. Separate to this, our future of conveyancing working group is looking at wider reforms and improvements to the system in Scotland."

Notes to editors

The polling results came from the Society's annual survey of members' views using Ipsos MORI, which polled over 580 Scottish solicitors in December. Further results from the survey will be published over the coming weeks.

The full results on members' priorities were as follows;

Question - I'm going to read out some areas in which the Society carries out services on behalf of the legal profession. For each of these, can you please tell me how much of a priority for the Society you think these should be? 

 

High priority %

Medium priority %

Low priority %

Intervening in firms where a critical failure has been identified.

87

12

2

Inspecting firms to ensure compliance with accounting rules

76

22

2

Investigating conduct complaints against solicitors and prosecuting cases to the discipline tribunal

71

24

5

Suggesting improvements to legislation in the UK and Scottish parliaments

60

31

9

Protecting the legal aid budget and representing those solicitors working in legal aid

54

38

8

Tackling conveyancing issues with banks and other lending institutions

53

34

13

Improving the perception of the profession among the general public

51

41

8

Providing support for trainees, newly qualified solicitors and those interested in a career in the law

50

46

4

Provide support for solicitors who are unemployed or face redundancy

47

41

13

Providing quality training, networking and professional development events for members

45

45

10

Providing business support for the legal sector in Scotland

28

52

20

 

ENDS                                                                                                13 JANUARY 2014

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: Please contact Kevin Lang on 0131 476 8167. Email kevinlang@lawscot.org.uk

13 January 2014

Back to articles