So… it’s May and I remain the President of your Law Society of Scotland for one more month. We may even have the result of the Scottish Parliament election by the time you read this.
Since I last wrote here we have continued with the work for members and the public, as we have done throughout the pandemic. Last month saw the launch of the Scottish Solicitors Bar Association, and we had an open and constructive meeting with their President Julia McPartlin and other members of their executive committee. Over the last year, we have had a particularly collaborative relationship and positive engagement with the Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen Bar Associations, and I and Society colleagues look forward to that continuing at an across-Scotland level.
On the issue of court recovery, our Vice President attended a round table with various justice stakeholders, where we built on our requests to be included on the Criminal Justice Board, having recently achieved membership of the Advisory Group which challenges and informs the Board. I had followed this up from the first Recover, Renew, Transform round table chaired by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice by writing to him prior to the Parliament’s recess. The Vice President also wrote to the Scottish Government after the round table event, and we will continue to pursue this to bring a variety of areas of relevant direct experience of practice issues and client impacts, whether accused, vulnerable person or complainer, to the Board.
In June 2020 in my first Journal column, I wrote of my desire to face the many challenges with openness, compassion and consideration; and that I would work to protect fundamental rights, ensure our profession reflects the society that it serves, promote wellbeing and stand up for and to challenge.
Whether I have done that will be for others to judge.
It has however been an historic year. We have worked through a global pandemic. The first openly LGBTI+ President in the Society’s 72 year history. The biggest increase in legal aid fees across the board for a generation. The launch of the first profession wide wellbeing strategy.
In other news, there have been repeated challenges to the use of defamatory language against those in the legal profession for meeting their professional responsibilities, and multiple statements about the importance of the #RuleOfLaw and preservation of #HumanRights, all much closer to home than I imagined would be the case when I stood for election in 2018. There have also been the international conferences learning from the experiences of others in the use of technology, the new work environment, and the engagements closer to home with members and stakeholders on how to #Sustain #Maintain and #BuildBackBetter.
Rising to the challenge
The work of Law Society colleagues and member volunteers is always immense, and this year has been beyond exceptional to allow delivery of outcomes never imagined while still responding with expertise, speed and professionalism to the many demands of actions and consultations.
In these exceptional and unprecedented circumstances the work of the profession in the interest of their clients, whether they be the state, big, small or medium business, or the individual (robust, vulnerable, traumatised or otherwise voiceless), has been a sight to behold.
The impact of the last year has been significant for all, whether healthwise, emotionally, economically, all or otherwise. The world has changed forever, but we must continue to approach the potential advantages of urgent, significant change with an open mind to ensure we don’t disrespect the losses so many have endured. Your resilience, adaptability and motivation for the work, your profession and place in society have been amazing.
Thank you all for that you have done, deliberately or otherwise, supporting me in my time as your President.
There is #MuchStillToDo, but I know Ken Dalling and the Law Society team are #OnIt.