I would have liked to record my impressions of the "Law in Scotland" conference straight from the event, but it's been one of those weeks.
However a day or two on, the test is what stands out in the memory. Very clearly, as a matter of general impression, was the overwhelming reaction among delegates that this was a quality event from start to finish, with speakers steeped in their subject, backed up by an excellent exhibition from those servicing the profession, all in a venue that catered very well for our needs.
Of course it was simply not possible to keep up with all the concurrent presentations. But the keynote speeches from the Attorney General and Lord Advocate which opened the conference, on the rule of law and the role of government and the law officers, were both excellent and we hope to carry these in the Journal magazine at the first opportunity. (The Lord Advocate was even kind enough to quote from a recent editorial; not something I ever imagined would happen.)
Picking out a few highlights from the presentations I did manage to see, Lord Gill gave some clear pointers to the way his civil court review is heading without disclosing the actual conclusions - and says his proposals, to be presented to Government at the end of June, are intended to be taken as a package and not cherry picked. The session on the combat in Afghanistan brought home to us the crucial role that rules of engagement play there, and the extraordinarily pressured decisions that have to be taken by our forces on the ground.
And whereas panel sessions sometimes rather skate over the issues scheduled for discussion, the one that took place on the Saturday morning produced some meaty contributions, as well as disclosures from Mr MacAskill that he is leaving jury numbers alone (at 15), and the Legal Profession Bill will not now be published till after the summer - to give more time to get it right. (Why not, as little would happen to it between June and September anyway?)
Oh, and talk about a complete cross section of the profession being there. One nice little moment came when after an address by Sheriff Principal Taylor, a member of the audience got up to offer a comment, introducing himself as "Arthur Hamilton, Lord President". As someone observed to me, it shows the egalitarian nature of the Scottish profession these days.
So the Society should be well pleased with the result, which will have generated a good deal of goodwill - not least from those solicitors, now unemployed, who were offered free passes to come. More will appear in print, but ideas were sparked there and the benefits will be wider and deeper than a few resulting magazine articles - good reading though these will undoubtedly be!