Report of 2001 AGM of the Society
“Openness, transparency and approachability have become the watchwords within the Society, whose permanent executive staff have come a long way in a short time,” Alastair Thornton told delegates at the Society’s AGM.

He said he had identified three key issues to address at the start of his presidency. Enshrining the team-based approach, wanting to add greater value to membership by placing “an increased emphasis on demonstrably useful services to all members, and creating a structure to enable a greater focus on the creation and development of policy initiatives.

He praised the organisation at Drumsheugh Gardens which had facilitated addressing these issues.

“The very rapid attainment of Investors In People accreditation and this year’s renewal of that mark of quality demonstrate very clearly how much has been achieved by the organisation. When I moved into the President’s Room at the end of May last year I thought I was already aware of the qualities of the people who work there. Since then I have frequently been astounded by their hard work and their commitment to the legal profession.”

He paid particular tribute to Chief Executive Douglas Mill. “One of the greatest privileges has been to work so closely with Douglas. He is a true champion of the profession about which he cares deeply, and I am proud to have had this opportunity to co-operate with him so closely.”

He also reiterated that finding a way to compensate firms and organisations of those who voluntarily give their time to the Society is essential if the Council is to reverse the trend of losing some of its “best and most hard-working members”.

Alastair Thornton said “the work of all the hours contributed free of charge by busy practitioners could never be adequately paid.

“I know from my personal experience that the real cost is borne by the partners and colleagues of those who contribute the most. For some time I have held the view that a modern, effective and, above all, professional organisation cannot continue to operate on this basis.”

At the Council’s annual strategy day, a significant majority favoured identifying a limited number of posts, essentially those of major committees, where payments would be made to the firms as employers.

“It may be argued that it would be more desirable if a universal ‘Corinthian spirit, could continue, but the sheer volume of work which the Society requires to undertake and the enormous commitment demanded of certain individuals are both now so much greater than 10, or even five years ago.”

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