Our leaders must show vision and courage to establish the best way forward. They need to rebuild trust in the wider community. Above all, they should send a message of hope, particularly to the excluded youth.
Not an exchange of verbal punches between Government ministers and union officials, as the biggest strike in a generation takes place – though similar appeals for peace to break out have been made by both supporters and opponents of this week’s industrial action – but the words of former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan at a recent “masterclass” on leadership in business and civic society, hosted by the Scottish Council for Development and Industry in Glasgow.
Perhaps given my other major diary commitment that day – welcoming the newest members of the solicitors’ profession at an admissions ceremony in Edinburgh’s Playfair Library – the third of Kofi Annan’s lessons particularly stuck in my mind. The need to send out a message of hope.
As with more experienced colleagues throughout the profession, new solicitors are keenly aware, possibly more so, of the difficulties caused by the continuing economic gloom. The qualification process is extremely competitive – becoming more so with the Scottish Government’s proposed changes to funding the Diploma stage – and securing a traineeship during a period of such hardship is as hard as ever. However, the newly qualified solicitors I met at the admissions ceremony were, without exception, hopeful about the future, even those not entering the profession in their job of first choice. Also take into account their obvious commitment and enthusiasm, and there is genuine cause to be optimistic about the future.
The Society recently launched our strategy for the years ahead, to help shape the profession “Towards 2020”. Despite having to take big decisions in difficult economic times, we will continue to have the courage to do what we believe is in the best interests of solicitors and the public they serve. Some recent debates have proved challenging and, at times, divisive – our focus now is on building trust across and in our profession. Vision, courage, trust. And, having met again some of the leaders of the profession of tomorrow, not just hope, but well founded confidence, that the future of the profession is in capable hands.Lorna Jack is Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland