Law Society survey of solicitors finds increase in optimism
Optimism among Scotland’s solicitors continues to rise, research carried out by the Law Society has found.
The annual survey of more than 500 solicitors from different sectors of the profession, which was carried out during 2015 by Ipsos MORI, gathered views on a range of issues.
It recorded a slight increase in optimism in the solicitors’ profession during the past year, up to 62% from 60%, with the latter figure a jump from 53% in 2013.
Society Chief Executive Lorna Jack paid tribute to members’ increasingly positive approach during a period of such extensive and rapid change.
She said: “It’s very encouraging to see an increase in optimism among our members. That’s a great basis for us to start moving forward with high ambition for the Scottish solicitors’ profession.”
She added that the Society had responded to the demands facing the legal sector with an ambitious new five-year strategy, Leading Legal Excellence, which sets the bold aim of being a world-class professional body.
She said: “For the first time, our survey asked if membership of the Society was recognised globally as a rigorous and valued professional accreditation, and 79% of those who took part agreed that it was – and that is before we have even taken any sustained action on our strategy.
“We will now be able to track the responses to this question in particular and measure how we progress up to 2020. The input of members will be vital in ensuring we deliver our strategy.”
The survey also showed that solicitors believe the Law Society’s regulatory role was considered its most important function, with the highest priorities thought to include intervening in firms where a critical failure has been identified (81%) and setting standards for solicitors and updating practice rules (72%). Over two-thirds (69%) thought investigating conduct complaints against solicitors and prosecuting cases to the discipline tribunal was a high priority and 60% said inspecting firms to ensure compliance with accounting rules was also a high priority.
Other key findings included:
- 95% of respondents agreed that the Society should continue to be responsible for representation, support and regulation of solicitors
- 85% agreed that the Society was an effective regulator of the profession
- the Society’s regulatory role was considered its most important function, with the highest priorities thought to include intervening in firms where a critical failure has been identified (81%), setting standards for solicitors and updating practice rules (72%), investigating conduct complaints against solicitors and prosecuting cases to the discipline tribunal (69%), and inspecting firms to ensure compliance with accounting rules (60%)
- 80% considered the Society helpful and approachable
- 74% thought the Society was effective at leading and supporting the profession
- 69% agreed that the Society’s education and training standards were flexible and promoted equal access
- 66% said the Society focused on the issues that affect individual solicitors
- 60% disagreed with the UK Government’s plan to repeal the Human Rights Act and replace it with a British Bill of Rights
- 78% believed the Scottish Government’s policy on legal aid risks undermining access to justice for the poorest in society, while 77% backed increasing legal aid rates
Head of Marketing, Angus Maclauchlan, said. “This is the fourth year of our annual member survey. We carried it out to get an up-to-date picture of what members are thinking. Participants not only commented on wider issues but also on what the Society’s priorities should be, how much they know about us, the quality of our communication and the services we provide.
“Overall, members’ perceptions of the Society are largely positive and the results are generally consistent with previous years. While we are doing what our members expect, we are not complacent and are seeking to improve the range and type of services we can offer.”