The admission of new solicitors to the profession always gives good cause to look forward with confidence. And so it proved at the Admissions Ceremony on Friday 14 November. Not only were there individual achievements to celebrate – for instance, the first husband and wife to qualify together for as long as anyone could remember – but there was also a collective sense of optimism.

Even the fact that the ceremony was held in a new Edinburgh venue – the renovated Hub, rather than the Playfair or Signet Libraries – gave a sense of looking to the future rather than backwards at our notable traditions. The turnout was also impressive, with 80 new solicitors scheduled for admission – more than at any time in the recent past. And the anecdotal and positive evidence from around the room was that a healthy number had already secured jobs.

Of course, the economic downturn was also the subject of some discussion, but what better than an injection of fresh talent to reinforce our resolve to respond positively to the challenges facing the profession? I am certain that solicitors – including our newest entrants – will play a full part in helping the country on the road to economic recovery and development. It was encouraging that the principal speaker, the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, Kenny MacAskill – himself a lawyer – recognised the challenges facing the profession, while also stressing how proud we should all be of the solicitor’s badge.

As I said to those present, we currently stand at a crossroads over issues such as alternative business structures, professional standards and, of course, education and training. However, we also have the opportunity to modernise and shape the profession for a new age. New solicitors, now and in the future, will be central to that process.

Richard Henderson is President of the Law Society of Scotland