As the city of discoveries and home of the RRS Discovery, Dundee was a fitting venue to explore the best way forward for the Society and our members in the years ahead. And the attributes apparently required of the ship’s crew for the celebrated 1901 Antarctic expedition – according to the then president of the Royal Geographical Society – could equally have appeared on a flip chart during the Council brainstorming session that took place today and yesterday. Imagination, enthusiasm, calm yet quick and decisive in action, demanded the RGS’s Sir Clements Markham. All qualities needed within the Society and among solicitors in a changing world.
The Council session, for instance, that considered the approach the Society should take in the coming years heard of the need to adopt the “three Ps”. In other words, we should be “pre-emptive, proactive and pugnacious”. Another session highlighted the need for better or more engagement, effective representation, communication (including listening to our members and others), leadership and innovation. Sir Clements might also have demanded those traits in Scott, Shackleton and crew.
The strategy discussions considered a broad range of issues, from a debrief on the highlights and lowlights of the recent past to lessons learned and future opportunities and threats. Priorities were outlined and key values established. But above all, it was agreed that leading and supporting solicitors in a changing world must lie at the heart of our mission between now and 2020.
The goals that support the overarching aim include promoting the professionalism and reputation of solicitors, whom we should help operate in an economically sustainable way and be seen as trusted advisers. As an organisation, the Society should be a leading regulator that performs to high standards.
Undoubtedly, the Society and solicitors around the country face a number of challenges, for example in relation to globalisation, advances in technology, a changing legal services marketplace and threats to access to legal services. But the future presents opportunities too. We can build on the profession’s international reputation for excellence, or develop new business models to promote growth in a changing marketplace.
Whatever the future holds, we will all need a broad and positive outlook and a unified profession. The Society is planning for a long journey. Who is ready to set sail?Lorna Jack is Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland