The Society’s Regulatory Committee is made up of experienced solicitors and non-lawyers – and one young lawyer member, Joe Boyd, who tells the Journal about his experiences so far

There is hardly a more sober and responsible task than setting standards for the profession.

It is a role undertaken by the Regulatory Committee of the Law Society of Scotland. That body is principally made up of longserving lawyers and lay people, but currently among their number is the committee’s youngest member to date, Joe Boyd. Part of the Registry & Operations team at RBS, Boyd relishes the opportunity to make a contribution, and encourages other young lawyers to do the same.

He was appointed to the committee with effect from January. At 31, he is the youngest member to serve on the committee, and currently the only in-house member.

Boyd joined RBS in 2012, after training with a small firm in the Scottish Borders where he qualified in 2011.

Having gained experience of court work and dispute resolution in his first posting, initially his role at the bank involved dealing with contentious complaints. Now, his focus is on corporate governance and he is responsible for a portfolio of around 200 RBS subsidiary companies. He also acts as an in-house notary and is responsible for arranging execution and notarising powers of attorney, in most cases for major corporate transactions.

Regulatory scope

The Regulatory Committee sits under the Society’s governing Council. Set up as part of the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 to exercise, independently, Council’s regulatory functions, it has five solicitors and five lay members and is convened by lay member Carole Ford. Meeting bi-monthly, when items are put up for approval, discussion, or information, it oversees several subcommittees covering admissions, client relations, complaints, professional conduct, practice rules and waivers, among other things.

“What has struck me most,” said Boyd, “are the number of matters referred, and the breadth of legal disciplines covered.

“For example, we could embark on a discussion on the roles and remits of the regulatory subcommittees before examining reform of the Guarantee Fund and then education and training matters. In the information section we can cover more obscure, albeit still relevant, matters such as Scots notarial practising rights in England.

“The matters we discuss could affect all solicitors, in private practice and in-house, in large firms and small, from Dumfries to Dingwall.”

Twin perspectives

Although he does not represent any particular group, Boyd believes that he is able to provide a perspective as both a younger and an in-house lawyer. “I have managed to influence certain things,” he said. “So far, I am most proud of making a positive contribution to the Society’s new strategy which has recently been published. I suggested the strategy should emphasise a desire for the Society to be more approachable and engaging, particularly in regard to young lawyers. Proactive engagement already occurs – for example, the Society runs regular events for new lawyers. Nevertheless, it was recognised that more could be done.”

Given his experience since January, he hopes younger members of the profession would think about becoming involved in the committee and its subcommittees. He believes the profession is in an exciting and unprecedented position, with the Society having a record number of members and it is appropriate that younger lawyers have a voice on these important forums.

Wider views

Boyd cites the current review of the Guarantee Fund as a good example of how wider views are canvassed. In June, the committee approved a name change for the fund, which clients can claim on if they lose out due to a solicitor’s dishonesty. From November, it will be known as the Client Protection Fund: it’s thought this title better reflects the nature and purpose of the fund.

Following that change, a consultation began in July to garner views across the profession about the future operation of the fund. That consultation has just closed and subsequent matters will come to the committee.

Boyd admitted: “My first year on the committee has gone really quickly. I’ve been struck by the volume and breadth of matters determinable by the committee, its importance, the role it fulfils in how the profession is run, and I’ve been pleased to be able to contribute to debates, discussions and the strategy.

“And I would encourage more young lawyers to get involved – vacancies can come up quite often and they are advertised on the Law Society of Scotland website.” 

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