Council reports 2014

Council Meeting, 12 December 2014

Presidential elections

The election of female solicitors to the Society’s top two positions for the first time was described as a “historic moment”.

The results of the elections for the Society’s president and vice president in 2015/16 were announced at today’s Council meeting.

The current Vice President, Christine McLintock, was the sole nomination for next year’s presidency, while Eilidh Wiseman, a former partner and Head of UK Employment Law Group at Dundas & Wilson, was elected vice president with 23 votes from Council members. They will take up their positions in May 2015.

In a close vice presidential contest, Jane MacEachran, Head of Legal and Democratic Services at Aberdeen City Council, received 16 votes.

Former general counsel for Pinsent Masons and previous convener of the Education and Training Committee, Christine said the fact that women had been elected to the senior elected positions was a “historic moment”.

Given that women held a number of other key positions at the Society – including Chief Executive Lorna Jack – she said it was “unapologetically a clarion call” for women in the legal profession.

Eilidh said it was a “tremendous honour and a great privilege”, adding that she looked forward to leading and supporting the solicitors’ profession and serving the public interest.

The current President, Alistair Morris, paid tribute to all three candidates.


Brussels office and EU engagement

The joint law society office in Brussels provides an effective service but more could be done to improve engagement within the European Union, a debate among Council members heard.

The Council was considering the EU Review report produced by Pinsent and Masons.

The report was commissioned by the Society in line with an annual plan commitment to “ensure we are obtaining best value for money in terms of our engagement at an EU level by carrying out a full needs analysis and an external review of our Brussels office”.

The in-depth analysis – which included interviews with members engaged in EU issues in private practice and in-house, management at the Society and other stakeholders – considered:

  • best practice among other comparable law societies and bar associations providing EU services and Brussels representation to their members
  • how Scottish local government organisations lobby and make their voices heard in Europe
  • the serviced office and meeting room space available in Brussels
  • the free and subscription EU law update services available
  • resourcing options and financial costs

The report recommended maintaining a fixed presence in Brussels to effectively represent the Scottish legal profession in Europe.

It added that sharing an office in Brussels with the Law Society of England and Wales and the Law Society of Northern Ireland provided value for money compared with other options.

The report said that the joint office would be more effective if engagement between the Society and the Brussels team improved.

The current service – which includes public relations, lobbying, awareness raising and issuing publications – costs £100,000 a year.

A debate among Council members agreed that the Brussels office provided a useful service, though more could be done to ensure maximum value for the Society’s investment in the facility.