Newly qualified solicitors are often, rightly, reminded of the weighty responsibilities they inherit – upholding traditions and values developed over centuries, building the profession of tomorrow, honing technical expertise throughout a long and rewarding career.

Perhaps less often, they are advised simply to be nice. Or, as Robert Carr, Anderson Strathern chairman and speaker at last week’s admission ceremony, put it: “Being courteous, friendly and just plain nice will take you a long way.” Strong personal relationships with clients, colleagues, fellow professionals and the courts were vital, he told the 65 new solicitors in Edinburgh’s Playfair Library. Likewise, the public is entitled to expect solicitors to be trustworthy – a reputation that must be earned and protected, and is easily lost.

And his comments were echoed by the guest of honour at the ceremony, American Bar Association President Bill Robinson, who spoke later the same day at the Society’s annual dinner. A passionate supporter of the rule of law and the role of the legal profession within a constitutional democracy, Bill emphasised that the work of a lawyer is not measured by monetary reward. Rather, he was proud to be a part of a profession that not only made a positive difference, but often did so on a voluntary, or pro bono, basis. The ultimate success of someone’s life, he concluded, was the degree to which they helped others.

Good advice – for newly qualified solicitors and old sages alike. Thankfully, research recently carried out by the Society suggests that levels of satisfaction (87% very or fairly satisfied with the service they most recently received from their solicitor) and trust (95% describing their solicitor as very or fairly trustworthy) are encouragingly high. However, as ambassadors sharing collective responsibility for the reputation of the profession, there is no room for complacency – another message for our new entrants last week.

The final word goes to Robert Carr: “You can be a nice person, and have fun, as well as being a tough lawyer and an outstanding professional dedicated to excellence. It is a rollercoaster. Strap in and enjoy it.”

Lorna Jack is Chief Executive of the Law Society of Scotland