Reviews of Scottish Young Lawyers Association and Cl@n Child Law sites

Scottish Young Lawyers Association

The Scottish Young Lawyers Association’s relaunch was covered in last month’s Journal and I don’t think that their website has been reviewed (or not for some time, at any rate), so now seems like an apposite moment to do so.

The SYLA website has a crisp, modern and attractive look to it. It has obviously been professionally designed (or much kudos to the amateur who did it), and benefits from this immensely. It obeys many of the basic rules of web design, e.g. it is immediately apparent from the first sight what the organisation is and what it does: “representing, educating and entertaining young lawyers in Scotland today”.

From the latest news section (which also features on the home page) it is apparent both that the site is frequently updated, and that the Association is a busy and active one.

Highlights from the rest of the site include the “Events” page, which is a cross between a CPD calendar and a facebook style social diary (complete with photos of previous events). The “Issues” page provides updates on the SYLA’s work on various issues of interest to young lawyers: from the obligatory trainees’ salaries and professional competence certificate to thorny questions vexing the profession as a whole, such as the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, legal aid reform etc. Finally, a “Careers” page offers some interesting information and relevant links to the solicitor in the early stages of their career.

In conclusion, and without wishing to sound like a recruiting sergeant for the SYLA, this really is a must for the bookmarks of any young lawyer.

CL@N Child Law

Launched in April 2008, CL@N is a new law centre in all but name. CL@N is an acronym (if you overlook the “@” symbol) for Community Legal Advice Networks, and the organisation’s aims state: “every person should be able to get the legal help that they require at the time that they need it and in a way that is suitable to them”.

Thus, CL@N Child Law is only “phase 1” of what seems to be a very ambitious project indeed. Backed by Sheriff Gail Patrick among others, the website relates to their initial focus, i.e. child law in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

The site itself is not nearly as inspiring as the project. It comes in predominantly grey, with occasional blue highlights, and even the atmospheric photo at the head of the page is of grey skies (being based in Edinburgh, you can’t fault them for accuracy!), albeit tinged with orange.

Technically, the site is a little basic and it scores very few points for accessibility despite CL@N offering advice on disability discrimination. This no doubt stems from the small scale and limited budget of what is still a young charity, but it certainly doesn’t make for a good first impression.

It is a fairly small site and very easy to navigate, with no page being more than one click away. Much of the information is provided by way of downloading PDF documents which, on a site of this size, is unnecessary for the most part and simply places a barrier between the user and the information they are trying to reach.

The main features of the website beyond the introductory parts are the News and Training pages. The news has not been updated since the launch, but the training section has been – bringing details of a very full and useful training programme to be run through the autumn. On finding a suitable training course online, I imagine many would be disappointed to note that the only way to book a place is to send a cheque by good old-fashioned snail mail. I realise that online booking and payment may be beyond a small charity, but an email link or web response form would add functionality to these pages.

Special mention must be made of the “R U under 18?” section, in which young people have been offered the opportunity to design a new logo for CL@N – the winning entries are displayed in full colour here.

Are you a Scots law blogger? Or do you know of one? Please let me know and the site(s) may feature in a future web review.

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