You will not need me to tell you that this month's Journal has a new look and feel, with a fresh design as well as the magazine being once again perfect bound with a proper cover.
We hope you like the changes, which are designed to give the magazine a more modern and less condensed appearance. The structure is little changed, though we will be introducing a few variations by way of regular columns.
The serious business of reporting on significant developments affecting solicitors will of course remain our top priority. This month we lead with the Data Retention etc Act, a subject that may seem esoteric to many lawyers but one that has implications for every individual – as well as potentially for legal professional privilege. Certainly it is a matter for grave concern, despite the assurances from the party leaders who agreed its emergency passage, that the Government's description of the bill as preserving the legal status quo was not subjected to proper scrutiny before it was enacted. It did not take long for serious questions to be asked from outside Parliament, and the whole episode calls into question the insistence by some politicians that Parliament (as opposed to the courts, domestic or European) should be the ultimate arbiter of our rights and freedoms.
But the issue from which there is no getting away for the time being is the independence referendum. Despite the televised verbal punch-up between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling, it is possible to hold a decent head-to-head – like the debate and question session organised by the Society and featuring Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, against Advocate General Lord (Jim) Wallace. Not all the questions were answered, of course, but there was a good interaction and audience input.
With its series of events, the Society has been diligent in attempting to keep an informed debate going for the duration of the campaign – a pity that its efforts have not reached an audience much beyond the profession. A lot of work has clearly also gone into its paper Scotland's Constitutional Future 2, following up last year's document with questions for the two campaigns to answer, though most of the issues it now poses for answer are realistically only going to be addressed, to the extent that they are then relevant, once the outcome is known.
Next month's issue more or less coincides with polling day. I will restate now my desire that the result be determined by people's beliefs in what is best for Scotland's future, rather than their scorecards on the campaigners.