The Society’s 60th anniversary celebrations opened in earnest last night with a reception at Edinburgh Castle’s Great Hall, in the heart of ancient Scotland. This morning, the keynote speeches at our Law in Scotland conference were delivered by those holding offices dating back to the 13th and 15th centuries. But while both events recognised the long and respected traditions of the legal profession, they were also focused firmly on the future.
Such was the multi-lingual chatter at the castle reception – with interesting discussions about pushing forward business opportunities at home and abroad - it outdid the combined efforts of five pipers. And that international flavour was highlighted once again when Baroness Scotland delivered the first of the morning’s keynote addresses, describing herself as the great, great granddaughter of a Scot from Kinross who emigrated to the Caribbean.
More than that, the first woman Attorney General for England, Wales and Northern Ireland since the office was established in 1277, shared the stage with Scotland’s first female Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini: potent reminders, if they were needed, of the diversity of the modern legal profession.
Yet both keynote speakers, and those who addressed the castle reception, touched on common themes: the vital role of lawyers in upholding the rule of law, promoting access to justice and contributing to the democratic process; and, the need for a strong and dynamic Society to represent the profession and the public.
Both, too, urged solicitors to adapt and move forward with increasingly broadened horizons. As Elish Angiolini pointed out - at the establishment of the Society in 1949, the notion of two women law officers, from either side of the border, must have seemed as unlikely as landing on the moon. Yet, that is the welcome reality of today. The time is right to plan for tomorrow, seize our opportunities and shape the future.