Given that my first contribution to the Journal on taking up the presidency was to submit a team sheet – the “first XI” of management board members – it seems only appropriate near the midpoint of my term that I should now provide a half-time report.
Before doing so, I give a reassurance – although we have moved into 2010, there are no plans to make use of a January transfer window and bring in some new faces. Rather, I would like to thank the board members – as well as all others involved with the Society – for their hard work in 2009 and wish them well in the year ahead. The same best wishes for 2010 go to every solicitor.
The year past was a landmark in many ways, suitably so for our 60th anniversary. A good deal of time and effort was spent responding to the parliamentary reform process – adapting to the first full year of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission and influencing the shape of the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill, introduced to open up the marketplace.
But much else has been achieved, within the Society and among the profession. Dealing with such a rapid and harsh recession quickly became a priority for all solicitors. The Society responded in a number of ways, focusing energies on representing and supporting our members and, crucially, delivering a £100 cut in the cost of practising.
The progress of the Legal Services Bill, and with it the opportunity to form new business structures, will no doubt prove one of the key developments of 2010. We will continue to reform our structures and processes to ensure the Society is in a position to operate as an effective and efficient regulator of the proposed licensed legal services providers. At the same time, we understand that our model of regulation, representation and support must meet the needs of a diverse profession, whether they pursue the opportunities presented by new business structures or not.
Despite the ice and snow of Christmas and New Year, the game is most definitely on. Let the second half begin.Ian Smart is President of the Law Society of Scotland