Council reports 2012

Council Meeting, 31 May 2012

President and vice president

Glasgow solicitor Austin Lafferty took up the post of Society President at today’s Council meeting, with Bruce Beveridge becoming Vice President.

Cameron Ritchie, whose presidency came to an end after chairing the annual general meeting earlier in the day, said it had been a "great pleasure and a great privilege" to lead the Society during an exciting and challenging year.

He said Austin had all the skills needed to take the Society and the profession forward. The well-known legal figure runs his own multi-branch law firm in and around Glasgow. He has been a member of the Council for six years.

Bruce, former Scottish Government solicitor and recently appointed Chair of Scottish Land and Estates' Centre for Rural Development, was described as a "dynamic" Vice President.

The new President said Cameron Ritchie’s term of office had been one of "distinction and achievement".

Tribute was also paid on the twentieth anniversary of Cupar representative Alistair Morris joining the Council. He is the longest serving member of the ruling body. On standing down from the Council, its second longest serving member, Oliver Adair, was described as having served his constituencies and the profession as a whole with distinction.

A number of new members were welcomed onto the Council: Nyree Conway, Linlithgow; Janet Hood, Dundee; John Mulholland, Stirling, Falkirk and Alloa; David Preston, Campbeltown, Dunoon, Oban, Rothesay and Fort William; Neil Ross, Elgin and Nairn; and, Ken Swinton, Dundee.

Trainee salaries

The recommended salary rates for trainees will go up by 1.5%, the Council agreed.

The increase follows a decision last month that all trainee solicitors must be paid at least the national minimum wage.

From tomorrow, recommended remuneration will rise from £15,965 to £16,200 for first-year trainees and £19,107 to £19,400 for second-year trainees.

The increase reflects the current annual wage rise for workers across the UK. Rates were frozen last year due to the economic downturn.

A report before Council members said: "There is a danger in continuing to freeze the recommended rate as, in the long-term, this will lead to a significant jump at some stage. It was considered that incremental rates were preferable."

The report added that the majority of trainees were paid at or above the recommended rates.

In-house lawyers

Changes to the way Scotland’s in-house solicitors are supported and represented by the Society have moved a step closer, Council members heard.

An update report on implementing the findings of a review of support for in-house lawyers said a working party was making good progress.

The working party Convener, David Newton, said it was minded to recommend to the Council that an In-House Lawyers Committee be established under the Society’s normal governance arrangements.

He added that further work was needed before a more detailed paper could be brought to the Council.

A debate among Council members heard that the "hearts and minds" of the members of the current In-House Lawyers’ Group must remain central to discussions.