Media Release: A year of challenge and change, Law Society of Scotland AGM will hear

THE solicitors’ profession should move forward with a renewed sense of purpose following a year of change and challenges, the Law Society of Scotland’s annual general meeting will hear tomorrow, Thursday, 27 May.

The Society’s president, Ian Smart, will outline key issues facing the profession during his address to the AGM in Edinburgh. He will also highlight achievements from 2009, the Society’s 60th anniversary year.

Ian Smart said: “The past year was a landmark in terms of progress made on significant projects yet the profession also faced a number of challenges, not least dealing with the downturn in the economy. The suddenness of the collapse in the property markets took all sections of the profession by surprise.

“The Society’s response was to ensure that we were clearly focused on providing support to solicitors, which we did in a number of ways. Our own robust budgeting process allowed us to deliver a £100 reduction in the cost of the 2009/10 practising certificate, helping in a small way to deal with the effects of the recession.”

He said the Society made progress in other key areas, including:

• modernisation of governance arrangements to remain an effective, efficient and transparent regulator for the profession and the public;

• combining the expertise of professional practice, law reform and the events team in a single department for a more cohesive approach to delivering all aspects of representation and professional support;

• adapting to the first full year of operation of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission, also challenging its budget and the annual levy, resulting in £40 reduction in the main levy;

• moving from consultation to implementation of the review of every aspect of education and training;

• beginning the phased introduction of a new database to provide greater flexibility and efficiency for members and staff; and

• carrying out the most comprehensive research undertaken into solicitors’ views of the Society’s services.

Ian Smart added: “Tomorrow’s AGM will allow us to reflect on the progress made on these issues as well as consider the best way forward on the proposed introduction of alternative business structures, which have attracted considerable attention in recent months.

“Three ABS motions will be put to members at the meeting. Whatever decisions are made, I continue to hope that common ground can be found in order for the profession to unite around a settled position and move forward with a renewed sense of purpose.

“My term of office as president ends at the close of the AGM. It has been a privilege to serve the profession and I would now like to welcome Jamie Millar into the post. A number of new members were also recently elected to our Council. Together, I am sure they will bring some fresh thinking to what we do and the policies we develop.”

Other AGM business includes the approval of previous minutes and the Society’s accounts. Draft practice rules on wills, incorporated practices and foreign lawyers are also on the agenda for approval.

ENDS 26 May 2010

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Contact: Suzy Powell
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