Council reports 2014

Council Meeting, 28 November 2014

Presidential nominations

The Society will have an all-female presidential team next year for the first time in its 65-year history.

The candidates for 2015/16 were nominated at today’s Council meeting. Current Vice President Christine McLintock was the sole nomination for next year’s presidency.

The nominations for the vice presidency, Eilidh Wiseman, a former partner and Head of UK Employment Law Group at Dundas & Wilson, and Jane MacEachran, Head of Legal and Democratic Services at Aberdeen City Council, guaranteed that the top two posts would be held by women.

A secret ballot of Council members will decide the election for vice president, with the results due to be announced on 12 December.

Former general counsel for Pinsent Masons, Christine has been a member of the Council for nine years and also served as the Convener of the Education and Training Committee.

The current President, Alistair Morris, said he could think of no better person than Christine to take up the presidency.

He added: “I am also pleased to see two excellent candidates for vice president. Whoever wins, it is clear there will be a first class team at the helm of the Society.”

The new team will take up their positions in May 2015.


Regulatory reform

The Society will develop more detailed plans for regulating legal firms as well as individual solicitors, Council members agreed.

They backed a proposal that so-called entity regulation and charging should progress to the next stage, with papers prepared for discussion and further consultation with the profession.

The Council also decided to review the Society’s current rules and guidance rather than pursue reforms that would involve relying more on a principles and outcomes based regulatory approach than the current system of clearly defined rules, a project that had met with “less enthusiasm”.

Both decisions, which were recommended by the Regulatory Committee, were taken following previous feasibility studies and consultations on the issues.

Philip Yelland, Director of Regulation, said the previous debates and discussions on the potential reforms had been very useful, with the responses to the previous consultations considered by both the Regulatory Committee and the Board.

He added that although the rules and guidance had recently been consolidated, the way they were actually written had not been reviewed. He said a project plan would be prepared for the review.


Equality and diversity

Equality and diversity benefits solicitors and their clients – and is good for business, the Council heard.

Janet Hood, Convener of the Equality and Diversity Committee, made the comments as she presented the Society’s Equality and Diversity Strategy for 2014 to 2017.

She said the Society’s achievements to date included attracting more female, ethnic minority and state-educated new lawyers into the profession. Important work had also been carried out on issues such as bullying, she added.

However, more needed to be done on other issues, including equal pay between men and women and providing legal services to disabled clients, she said.

She said recognising the importance of equality and diversity was good for solicitors and those they served, adding: “If we get this right, it’s going to be good for the bottom line too.”

Lay Council member Dr Bronwen Cohen welcomed the strategy and said it provided an “opportunity for the Law Society to take the lead”.


Regulatory Committee 

Efforts will continue to improve the regulatory system in the year ahead, the Council heard.

The Convener of the Regulatory Committee, Carole Ford, gave a presentation on the work carried out in the past year and also looked forward to 2014/15.

She explained that the committee’s main projects had been: considering the feasibility of entity regulation and charging as well as principles and outcomes focused regulation; and, creating the Appeals and Reviews Sub-Committee.

Other work included oversight of the regulatory sub-committees and working with the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission to improve the system for making complaints about solicitors.

A report before Council members said: “The year has been a busy one for the Regulatory Committee, covering a lot of work; much remains to be done as the committee goes forward, with refreshed membership looking at the continuation of a number of the matters it has looked at in the last year and new matters which are to be identified.”

The President, Alistair Morris, paid tribute to the work of the committee and Carole’s “steely determination and clarity”.