Jim Mather, the Scottish Government’s Minister for Enterprise, Energy and Tourism, is known to say that “the magic is in the room” when he sits down with business representatives to discuss promoting sustainable economic growth. And it is certainly true that his wizardry with a laptop and projector produced some fascinating “mind maps” during a presentation at the Society’s headquarters, which was the high point of my week at the Society.
The mind map – a computer-generated diagram – charted the views expressed by those in the room, exploring barriers to using Scotland as a place to do business and identifying solutions to problems. Those who took part represented a broad cross-section of the profession, yet a general consensus was reached on the best way forward in the current economic climate.
The close-knit Scottish legal profession has advantages and opportunities not shared by others: by recognising those strengths, improving the links between the law and enterprise, and pulling together, we will be best placed to prosper when the downturn eases.
Work is already underway. The Society is represented on the Business Experts and Law Forum, which published a report with a number of findings the day before the event with Jim Mather and Fergus Ewing, the Minister for Community Safety. The suggestion that Scotland could become the “Switzerland of dispute resolution” is certainly an innovative and attractive prospect. Equally, the commitment to marketing Scottish legal services at home and abroad should give us all confidence in the future.
Next year marks the Society’s 60th anniversary. It also sees the launch of Homecoming Scotland, a series of events celebrating the Scottish brand and encouraging those with Scottish roots to return home. What better time to champion Scottish solicitors’ reputation for honesty, integrity and excellence? Working together will be the key.Richard Henderson is President of the Law Society of Scotland