The Law Society of Scotland’s annual plan for 2019-20, launched at the start of the new practice year on 1 November, is the final operating plan in the fifth year of its Leading Legal Excellence strategy, adopted in 2015.
The plan sets out 28 projects across each of the Society’s five strategic goals, to assure, serve, excel, influence and grow.
“One of our objectives this year will be of course to develop a new strategy, and we have already started that process with our staff and our Council members. Once again, we have a challenging set of objectives to achieve over the next 12 months; however, I am confident and excited about leading us through this next period and launching our new strategy for 2020 and beyond.”
(Lorna Jack, CEO)
“Regulation, as ever, remains one of our key areas of work. We take our duty to the public extremely seriously: it is imperative that we work in the public’s and our members’ interests to ensure we maintain a robust and proportionate regulatory system.”
(Philip Yelland, Director of Regulation)
Projects under Assure include:
- seeking to retain a robust and proportionate regulatory system by engaging fully with the Competition & Markets Authority in its review of the Scottish legal services market, and the Scottish Government’s consultation which follows the Roberton report;
- designing an apprenticeship route to qualification, and setting up a pilot group of employers and a university provider;
- continuing to develop a programme to promote social mobility and encourage firms to follow our guidance on best practice in recruitment processes, to ensure all graduates have a fair chance of obtaining a traineeship, regardless of their background and personal circumstances;
- working with Scottish Government, the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and the Faculty of Advocates to bring forward regulations to the Scottish Parliament to improve the current system for dealing with complaints, and reviewing our processes for dealing with conduct complaints to ensure they will be dealt with as efficiently and effectively as possible;
- continuing to embed the risk-based approach to anti-money laundering (AML) regulation in firms, including implementation of the Fifth Directive, and to develop and implement changes to the current inspection regime in terms of a risk-based approach.
“We need to continuously strive to understand the needs of our members and the challenges they face so we may focus on providing them with the best business, professional and wellbeing support, career growth and CPD, be that here in Scotland, across the globe,
on the high street, in a large firm or in-house.”
(Paul Mosson, Director of Member Services & Engagement)
Projects under Serve include:
- developing new, and refining existing, services that support our members, with a focus on emotional wellbeing, AML, technology, business development, and tools that enable firms to improve efficiencies, as well as reviewing guidance on a risk-based approach and producing “Pocket Professional Practice” video content;
- continuing to grow our portfolio of CPD and training, maximising our new online platforms to make our services more accessible, developing new content and expanding titles that support specialist accreditation and our accredited paralegal programmes. Supporting our members through the implementation of the Fifth Money Laundering Directive if brought into domestic legislation;
- listening to our members and continuing to develop a deep understanding of their needs and concerns; increasing our engagement across big firms, the high street, the in-house sector and those working outside Scotland; supporting our members on the issues that concern them and ensure their voice is heard by ensuring feedback captured at meetings is recorded and shared internally; developing a new forum for Fellow members;
- supporting our members to understand the latest best practice guidance on how to reduce complaints, and how to handle those that are made to reach the most positive outcome;
- leading a cyber-resilience programme to support the profession in taking appropriate steps to protect their businesses;
- supporting the profession as it embraces technology in the delivery of legal services and compliance with regulation; championing innovation and leading LawScotTech, a hub that matches legal expertise with technology talent;
- continuing to promote the benefits of increased diversity within the profession;
- working with the Society of Solicitor Advocates to develop a plan to celebrate 30 years of solicitor advocacy in 2021 that will showcase the immense contribution of this important part of the profession.
“Service excellence and customer service is at the heart of our organisation and it’s imperative that we have the technology, the systems and the processes in place to support that. The development of our new five-year strategy will be a real cross-organisational effort – it’s going to be an exciting year ahead.”
(Derek Sommerville, Interim Director of Finance & Operations)
Projects under Excel include:
- developing our systems, processes and structure to improve the delivery of service excellence, ensuring that relevant and timely management information is available at all levels across the organisation to support the decision-making process;
- improving Council and committee member recruitment and induction by streamlining processes and systems as well as improving our support to Council and committee members, facilitating more effective communication channels across all areas of governance;
- benchmarking and improving on our green credentials;
- promoting and supporting diversity, ensuring that we are recognised as an inclusive workplace;
- developing a new five-year strategy and refreshing our associated values.
“Brexit will continue to have an influence over our work throughout the next year, and it’s vital that we are part of that conversation, ensuring the interests of our members and the public are properly considered.”
(Kevin Lang, Director of External Relations)
Projects under Influence include:
- continuing to provide a leading, non-partisan voice as the UK moves towards leaving the European Union, ensuring the interests of the profession and the public are properly considered by political decision-makers;
- promoting the jurisdiction internationally; seeking to ensure that, post-Brexit, our members maintain access to international clients and markets and have access to resources devoted to promoting legal services internationally; promoting Scotland as a destination for dispute resolution and legal expertise;
- seeking to influence the Scottish Government in creating a long term, sustainable funding arrangement for legal aid in Scotland;
- ensuring solicitors and access to justice issues are central to legislative change around mediation and alternative dispute resolution;
- ensuring that our approach to assuring competence compares favourably with other jurisdictions and professions;
- preparing for the Holyrood elections in 2021, creating a set of policy priorities for publication.
“In order to keep the cost of practising as low as possible for our members, it’s imperative we expand our offerings and keep growing our commercial income. We’ll also be launching two new associate membership categories. It’s certainly going to be a busy and challenging year ahead!”
(Liz Campbell, Director of Education, Training & Qualifications)
Projects under Grow include:
- reviewing the success of the Accredited Paralegal scheme, promoting the revised scheme of operation and considering new practice areas in line with market need;
- reviewing the uptake of our specialist accreditations and considering new categories and their relevance to the profession both now and in the future;
- keeping the cost of practising as low as possible by growing non-core income through commercial activity, reducing the dependency on the core practising certificate fee; increasing our market share for the provision of CPD in Scotland; delivering a leading programme of member benefits;
- developing and promoting the brand of “Scottish solicitor”;
- growing our numbers of practising members past 12,000; increasing accredited paralegals to 750; developing the Fellow non-practising member status; recruiting 500 new student associates; launching two new associate membership categories, legal technologists and law accountants, recruiting 100 members to each.