Council reports 2015

Council Meeting, 30 October 2015

Judicial diversity

Further consideration should be given to developing a distinct career path for the judiciary, the Council heard.

During a discussion about the Society’s response to the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland’s paper on judicial diversity, Council members raised the issues of specific judicial training and the Bench as an attractive, separate legal career.

The meeting heard that a number of focus groups had informed the Society’s response to the paper, with further input from Society committees and staff.

The focus groups raised the issue of a judicial career path distinct from solicitors and advocates – a system used in several European jurisdictions – which required further thinking across the legal profession.

It was also pointed out that the Society is keen to work with JABS to ensure training on gaining judicial competencies is more focused and effective.

The Society’s response made a number of recommendations, which also included promoting outreach work in schools and providing mentoring opportunities.

The Society said good progress has been made in increasing diversity within the judiciary – for instance, as a result of a conference on merit and diversity attended by the Society last year – but more could be done.


CCBE and Brussels office

Lawyers’ bodies operating across the European Union carry out valuable work but could benefit from more involvement by Scottish solicitors.

Council members were given presentations on the work of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) and also the UK law societies’ Brussels office.

The CCBE presentations were given by: Ruthven Gemmell, second Vice President of the CCBE and a former president of the Society; James Wolffe, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and Head of the UK Delegation to the CCBE; and, Mark Clough, the Society’s representative on the UK delegation.

The presentations by Ruthven Gemmell, who is due to become the first UK solicitor to assume the CCBE presidency in 2017, and James Wolffe, the first dean of the Faculty to address the Council, pointed out the work carried out to advance the interests of European lawyers and promote issues such as human rights, democratic values, the rule of law and access to justice.

Mark Clough highlighted the economies of scale membership of the CCBE provides for smaller legal professions.

He added that, while the Society and Faculty are represented on a number of committees, the CCBE would benefit from more involvement from Scottish solicitors at committee level.

The Brussels-based CCBE represents more than a million European lawyers. The UK delegation is made up the three law societies and the Faculty.

Mickael Laurans, Head of the UK law societies’ joint Brussels office, outlined the work carried out to represent solicitors and inform them of developments in EU law.

A question and answer session with Council members raised issues such as the gender and ethnicity of the CCBE, its role in recent discussions about the Maternity Directive and how the work of the CCBE could be best communicated to the Council and Scottish solicitors.


Michael Scanlan

Former Society president Michael Scanlan, who died earlier this month, was described as an outstanding representative of the Scottish solicitors’ profession.

In a tribute, the Society’s President, Christine McLintock, said he was an exceptional solicitor, with wit and charm, who enjoyed a distinguished and varied career.

He served as president between 1999 and 2000, also chairing a number of Society committees and representing the constituency of Glasgow for eleven years until 2003.

The Council offered sincere condolences to his wife and family.