It is, sadly, all too common for the new year to lose its sheen well before we Scots have finished wishing each other a happy one. In doing so now I hope that over the piece it will prove a good one for each of you.

Debating the EU

One issue that may come to a head this year is that of the UK’s continued membership of the European Union. The Society has already carried out an initial survey of members’ views, on which we report in this issue. While it discloses a much more pro-EU sentiment within the profession – albeit on a fairly small number of respondents – than appears to exist in the population as a whole, there is a prevailing view that the Society should not take a position either way, but aim to give the issues, and members’ views, a proper airing.

It will be an uphill battle to achieve an informed level of debate. Prejudices on the subject are rampant, as is public confusion, for example as between the EU and European human rights law, or which categories of migrants can move more freely under EU law. Judging by the responses to the survey, indeed, there is room to suspect that some solicitors are not as well informed on the subject as one might expect. The general media often only spread further confusion and misinformation; however the attempt to counter this has to be made, in everyone’s interests.

New office, new culture?

To what extent do its office premises shape a corporate body’s culture? We will find out from this year whether it makes a noticeable difference to the Law Society of Scotland, moving from traditional New Town buildings to a purpose-built, open-plan development. Atria One creates a very favourable first impression, and there are real hopes that the relocation will be “transformational”, to quote the President in this month’s lead feature.

Certainly an environment where the chief executive’s desk is as visible and accessible as everyone else’s must help to instil a mindset of communication and sharing. And with the Leading Legal Excellence strategy already fixed on 2020, having a building designed for the future is likely to accelerate the pace of change. As anyone who has read the strategy will know, there is much more that will be transformational, over quite a short timescale. Members should keep their eyes open lest they find themselves caught unawares.