Media Release: Solicitors vote overwhelmingly for Law Society’s representation

SOLICITORS have voted resoundingly in favour of the Law Society of Scotland retaining both its representative and regulatory roles.

Says a spokesperson: “Seventy-three per cent of members who voted, voted in favour of the Society maintaining its dual role. 4,138 solicitors (almost 40 per cent of members) voted in the poll which was carried out under the Society’s constitution by Electoral Reform Services on behalf of the Society.”

The Society was set up by statute to represent solicitors’ interests and those of the public in relation to the profession in 1949.

Ian Smart, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: “The resounding result is a mandate for the Society to continue to represent, regulate and support its members. It gives the Society a green light to continue its programme of change including reform of its governance structure and member services.

“Solicitors were asked to vote on a single question, ‘Should the Law Society of Scotland as statutory regulator continue to be responsible for promotion of the interests of, and the representation of, solicitors in Scotland?’ 3,037 voted yes and 1,101 voted no.

“The referendum was called under the Society’s constitution by members opposed to the Society’s dual role who campaigned vigorously for a no vote.”

Ian Smart, added: “Solicitors in Scotland have recognised that they benefit from keeping the dual roles of regulation and representation together. The very essence of what it is to be a profession is bound by its ethics and principles as well as any common knowledge and skills.

“Being part of a profession and a qualified solicitor should remain as a badge of distinction unlike other unregulated legal advisors, and is something we should all be proud of.

“The Council, committees and staff work tremendously hard on behalf of the profession and the message from a recent survey that the profession would like the Society to do more representational work for members is reflected in the referendum vote as we always believed it would be.

ENDS Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Notes to editors

The referendum on the Society’s representative role follows another recent two-question referendum on alternative business structures in Scotland in which 81 per cent of 1,880 members who responded were in favour of the Society regulating ABSs. The first question asked members if ABSs should be permitted at all, which won a narrow majority, and a second question asked if ABSs are permitted, should the Society regulate them which resulted in a positive vote.

The Society’s AGM will take place on Thursday, 27 May at the Hilton Grosvenor, Edinburgh. The annual report and finances will be approved and there will be a debate and vote on three motions on alternative business structures. The outcome of the vote will help determine the Society’s future policy on ABSs, which are expected to be permitted once the current Legal Services (Scotland) Bill is enacted.

MSPs are expected to debate stage two of the Legal Services (Scotland) Bill in June 2010.

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Contact: Suzy Powell
Phone: 0131 476 8115