A hoped-for agreement with the Scottish Government on securing new legislation for solicitors, a move to new office premises and setting out who may become affiliate members, are among the key features of the Law Society of Scotland's 2015-16 annual plan, published today.

Covering the year from 1 November 2015, the plan sets out the targets for the first year of the Society's new five-year strategy, Leading Legal Excellence. These include:

  • securing agreement on legislative time in the next Scottish Parliament for a new Legal Services Act;
  • implementing reforms to improve consumer protections, through the Client Protection Fund (formerly Guarantee Fund) and entity based regulation;
  • enhanced services to members, including professional practice, mentoring and digital-based services;
  • raising solicitor membership to 11,800 by developing a new retention strategy, and "ensuring we provide a value proposition for those not required to hold a full solicitor practising certificate";
  • agreeing new categories of affiliate membership and the required qualifications;
  • boosting the Society’s commercial income to £1.6m by launching innovative new products and services, and by expanding commercial partnerships which benefit members and their clients.

Chief executive Lorna Jack commented: “The next 12 months will mark one of the most significant periods of change in the Law Society’s proud 66-year history. We are excited to begin the journey towards being a truly world-class professional body and the annual plan sets out how we will work towards achieving our ambitions."

On the elements of the plan she continued: “We realise that the ability to fully deliver our new strategy is limited by the current statutory framework. We plan to work with the Scottish Government, Scottish parliamentarians and others to argue the case for new enabling legislation that would mean we can meet our strategic objectives and create an environment which will allow the legal market to thrive while also providing strong consumer protections.

“In the first year of the strategy we will look to complete important work already underway and launch new projects that enhance the confidence and trust of the public. Through reforming our Client Protection Fund and continuing our work towards a system of entity-based regulation we aim to improve our protections to consumers.

“It is essential that we improve our own understanding of the increasingly diverse needs of our members, whatever their background and place of business so we can develop new services which bring added value to our members, including broader use of our new digital smartcards."

She concluded: “This year’s targets are just the start as we head towards 2020 and our overarching ambition of being a world-class professional body which is leading legal excellence. I look forward to reporting on what we achieve in the next 12 months.”

Click here to view the plan.