Ten “board critical” projects are among the 32 actions included in the Law Society of Scotland’s annual plan for the year from 1 November, approved at the latest Council meeting.
The 2016-17 plan, the second since publication of the Society's five-year strategy, Leading Legal Excellence, contains five more actions than the 2015-16 plan.
The top 10 projects, which will be monitored by the board from month to month, are headed by making a strong case to the Scottish Government for modern, flexible legislation regulating the provision of legal services, meeting the needs of the profession while protecting the public.
Others include delivering new member services, concentrating on areas of wellbeing, business support, career growth and professional support; increased member engagement, including high street and sole practitioners, England & Wales members, and in-house solicitors; a separate programme of increased big firm engagement; and preparing for the launch of new membership categories in 2017-18.
The Society will also build on its #Defendlegalaid campaign by arguing for an effective legal aid system as Government reforms take shape and publishing new research on the preventative benefits of legal aid; provide a leading voice in defence of members' interests as the Brexit negotiations take shape; and enhance its performance as the designated anti-money laundering regulator for the Scottish legal sector.
A target of £2m revenue has been set for increased revenue from commercial activities; and the first bursaries should be issued to law and diploma students from low income backgrounds via the newly launched Lawscot Foundation.
Beyond the top 10, actions for the year include:
- improving the induction training for Council and committee members;
- improving the CPD offered to members;
- establishing a secure, online committee portal system to allow more paperless working; and
- the launch and future work of the Public Policy Committee.
Council also approved the Society’s draft budget for 2016-17, effectively a breakeven budget as it shows an operating surplus of £3,000 on income and expenditure both at over £10.6m. This compares with a projected deficit for 2015-16 of around £240,000, largely due to the one-off impact of the Society's relocation to Atria One.
The practising certificate fee again remains unchanged in 2016-17.