In-house lawyers news archive

How to Get the Best Out of the Society

27 February 2015

Neil Stevenson Director of Representation & Professional Support, writes about his recent seminar presentation to the ILG

I was incredibly excited to be invited to speak at an ILG seminar a couple of weeks ago on how members can get the most out of the Society. 

I should start with a confession – I’m an unashamed Law Society luvvie, who can’t wait to get into work every day, is incredibly proud of what we do for members, and in my spare time even works for another professional regulator because of my enthusiasm for the importance of professions in society and economy. Sad, I know!  

In my defence I should add that I mediate that with some realism.  We know we can get better at what we do for members, and every annual plan we publish sets out how we hope to do that.  I also started and finished the presentation, and so likewise this article, with a plea – help us be better!

If our CPD isn’t relevant tell us what you do need, if you want update on a certain area of practice let us know, consider joining a committee our Council (literally hundreds of members have).  We obviously can’t provide everything, but every single bit of member feedback can help us improve, from the one line email from your smartphone with a simple idea, to the big suggestions for step change. 

When I chat to people about the Society, I always let them know how we work.  We have a strategy which sets out our 10-year plan (now five in) and which gives us a strategic aim, and five objectives – such as ensuring Scottish in-house lawyers are the ‘trusted adviser of choice’ to UK businesses.

We then set out an annual plan with specific targets and projects for the year, which is presented to the profession each year, along with an annual report on how we performed in achieving last year’s actions.  A 10 minute skim read could see you understand so much more about our approach – it might enthuse you or enrage you, but either reaction is fantastic and gives us something to work with from someone informed about our approach.  

So who comes up with all this?  Many of our members refer to us as ‘Drumsheugh Gardens’, as if the fading grandeur of sandstone and wood makes decisions itself.  In fact we have a vibrant Council,   with many in-house members, and over 50 committees and sub-committees which look at all aspects of law, regulation and member support with a key one for the in-house sector being the ILG.  We see members coming in every day and informing our work.  The Council set the strategy, and the Board, Committees and Staff implement it. 

So, you now know how to find out our master plan, and how those plans are set by members, but as a busy practitioner, with hundreds of work and personal demands on your time, how do you get the best out of all of that?

You might want to start with a quick scan of our A-Z of services.  At this point you may want to imagine me channelling Julie Andrews and singing ‘these are a few of my favourite things’, but even if that’s too dark and disturbing an image, there should be something there which for you is as exciting as whiskers on kittens or brown paper packages wrapped up in string.

Did you know? 

  • We can provide support to take on a non-exec role and build a portfolio career, all supported by free online CPD. 
  • We also have legislation trackers which can give you a quick summary of EU law progressing through Brussels which will impact on your businesses in years to come;
  • We have a confidential and independently run helpline for if you are stressed or being bullied
  • We publish an equality standard for law firms which can help you meet public sector procurement duties in relation to equality?
  • We publish a report on annual hourly rates in private practice you can use to inform tenders for external counsel.
  • We provide 20 evening seminars for free for in-house members, and that you can now log in to these from your desktop computer.
  • in-house lawyers can become solicitor advocates and judges, and how to do that?
  • we now provide training to the sales team of a major UK bank in how the client account works, so they can pitch to law firms?
  •  our law reform committees are probably right now discussing areas of law that affect your employer and that you could contribute and influence that legislation, and could have early insight to brief your employer?
  •  if you have a teenage child our car insurance deal in the members benefits service can save some members most or all of their PC fee back?

I sometimes feel the challenge is not too little for members, but too much.  If I can get a one-to-one conversation with a member, or a small group, I’ve a pretty good success rate in getting them enthused about something we do.  But trying to match the right member with the right service by mass marketing is harder.  It often takes more than a story in The Journal or the e-bulletin (despite us having one of the best readerships of any professional body for those publications!).

Like so many things in life it comes back to one of my mother’s clichés (my life is dominated by these much uttered phrases, which annoyingly so often prove true).  ‘You get out what you put in’.  So, why not do a little thing.  Sign up to our twitter feeds @Lawscot or @In_houseLawyers, or promise yourself you will read this quarterly bulletin in full and try to spot things that can help you.  We hope that helps you get the best out of your Law Society, or inspires you to tell us what is missing, what would help, and how we can be better for you.