The Society is always learning, from conferences and other events, from meeting and talking to people – and from constructive feedback from members who think it could do better in its services

Every day is a school day…

Recently I took part in the introduction ceremony at the Court of Session for nine newly admitted solicitor advocates (you can see them in all their glory on p45): a proud day for them and for all their family and friends. The declaration of allegiance was administered by a very gracious Lady Stacey and the group was then warmly welcomed by Lord Carloway.

The occasion was a great opportunity for me to talk with members that I might not always get an opportunity to speak to. Among those being introduced to the court was former Society Council member Mike Dailly, of the Govan Law Centre. Mike mentioned that he anticipated more public interest litigation and judicial review in Scotland following reforms in both Scotland and England.

This reminded me of a fascinating day in June at the annual Scottish Universities Law Clinics Network (which is sponsored by the Society), at which the benefits of public interest litigation were discussed, with contributions from South African barristers and legal academics: their protective costs regime encourages such cases to promote social justice. There was also a session led by the Aberdeen Law Project (a student-run pro bono law clinic), following their success in the case of Cross v Aberdeen Leasing Ltd, and a session led by Professor Julie Price of Cardiff Law School, which is successfully partnering with local law firms to promote specialist clinics and innocence projects.

I am just back from the American Bar Association conference, where I gave a presentation on the
Magna Carta and the rule of law – a topic that Michael Clancy, as the Society’s director of law reform knows much about! Did you know that Scotland had one of the first legal aid systems in the world, with the introduction of “poor laws” in the 15th century?

Being President of the Society sees me talking about the Scottish solicitor profession all over the world. Recently I had a conversation about our members, much closer to home. As I grabbed some tapas with my newly graduated LLB (Hons) daughter (yet another proud moment), the conversation moved to the legal profession. My daughter is a volunteer Street Law tutor for the Society. Having delivered Street Law sessions over a six-week period last year at Lochend High School in Easterhouse, Glasgow, she was sharing some ideas with me around how we could support and mentor students who want to pursue a career in law. It reinforced the view set out in the Society’s new five-year strategy (which is outlined on p22), that the Society and the profession would benefit hugely from more and better engagement with our members and future members – and that it is not just qualified solicitors who can contribute enthusiasm and creativity to our work.

To see ourselves as others see us

Following our annual Ipsos MORI poll of members, we commissioned further research with the minority of members who expressed dissatisfaction with our services. It is useful to receive constructive feedback in developing our new strategic objective to serve every member every day. It was fascinating to find that high street members felt that the Society prefers large firms, large firm members felt we were focused on the high street, and in-house members felt that the Society focuses more on private practice than those that work in-house. Thank you to everyone who took part in the survey. Rest assured we are listening and working hard to address these perceptions.

The Author
Christine McLintock is President of the Law Society of Scotland – president@lawscot.org.uk; Twitter: @Christinemclint You can find out more about our future plans in our new five-year strategy at www.lawscot.org.uk/strategy  
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