What has SLAS ever done for me?
- SLAS is the largest voluntary legal society in Scotland. Our Royal Charter of Queen Victoria was already 65 years old when the Law Society of Scotland was created by Parliament in 1949 and we celebrated our 125th Anniversary in 2009. We remain today the biggest exclusively representative Society for solicitors in Scotland.
- SLAS strives to represent solicitors in all legal and practical matters affecting its members. SLAS Council endeavours to represent and promote the interests of the membership and of the profession generally.
- SLAS has been at the cutting edge of recent national legal campaigns, for example, the campaign against the introduction of Home Reports in 2008 and also that against 100% full-blown (ASS) ABS in 2010. Our vote at a Law Society SGM in November 2008 was the biggest ever witnessed at a Law Society General Meeting and projected SLAS on to the national media stage.
- SLAS also successfully have taken on the Law Society of Scotland in several contentious motions at Law Society General Meetings. SLAS involvement in recent years has been pivotal in the passing of several Law Society Practice Rules, for example, the Rules for Client Relations Partners in Dissolved Firms and Letters of Engagement. The suggested Account Rules which were proposed by the Law Society in 2009 were quickly withdrawn by the Law Society before they could be put to a vote, thanks to a massive SLAS proxy campaign against them. The Law Society are now consulting with the profession and in particular SLAS with regard to a more sensible set of proposed Accounts Rules. Such consultation may very well have not taken place but for the SLAS proxy campaign.
- SLAS Council Members have also frequently given evidence to Committees at Holyrood. Such evidence has been well received by the Scottish Parliament. Examples of SLAS evidence to Holyrood Committees influencing the final legislation include our evidence given in connection both with the Tenement (Scotland) Bill and also the Legal Profession and Legal Aid (Scotland) Bill.
- SLAS produces a quality quarterly magazine, the Scottish Law Gazette. This contains much useful, topical and practical information affecting Scots Law and the profession.
- SLAS publishes to its membership the renowned Wee Red Book (or Memorandum Book) which is full of up-to-date and useful advice and styles for the busy Practitioner.
- SLAS produces a regularly updated website which attracts thousands of hits each month and is due to be revamped to include social media during 2011. Our website contains cutting edge material for the benefit of the profession. It also spearheads many campaigns which SLAS has successfully fought for the profession.
- SLAS organises cost-effective (CPO) CPD Seminars for its membership at reduced rates. The Seminars are well received and regarded. They are on topical and relevant matters.
- SLAS runs its own Professional Competence Course three times a year for Trainee Solicitors, again at reduced rates. The Course is held in high esteem. It attracts speakers from the Bench, the Law Society of Scotland and very experienced legal practitioners generally. The SLAS PCC is well regarded by other training providers and those attending.
- SLAS Council has its own dedicated Committees dealing with matters such as Conveyancing, Court and Legal Aid and Legal Education. Committee members communicate regularly with their peers and are able to reflect the views of the profession on particular and varied issues.
- SLAS Council reviews and reports on many consultative documents each year. Such documents might be issued by the Scottish Law Commission, the Law Society of Scotland, Consumer Focus Scotland and Government bodies wherever situated.
- SLAS was instrumental in the incorporation of the Legal Defence Union in 1987. SLAS remains represented on the LDU Board. In so doing SLAS can continue to give voice to the feelings of the profession in particular matters of policy. Many Scottish Solicitors have the LDU to thank for representation of the highest quality.
- SLAS in conjunction with the Law Society of Scotland administers the Scottish Solicitors’ Benevolent Fund. This ingathers and then provides much-needed financial assistance to Solicitors, their spouses or partners, widows or widowers or their dependents in straitened circumstances.
- SLAS operates the Tod Endowment Fund. This provides funds for short holidays in Scotland for stressed-out solicitors and their dependents. The Fund also provides finance for carers and companions where reasonably required and also for respite by way of locum cover.
- SLAS runs a “Keeping in Touch Programme” for redundant solicitors. This enables those solicitors who have been made redundant to register their availability with SLAS and also assists those firms who may be prepared to take on such solicitors on a temporary, part-time or even unpaid basis to enable them to keep in touch with the profession and up to date until such times as they can obtain a permanent position.
- SLAS Council members meet regularly with those with whom the profession require to interface, for example, the Law Society of Scotland, the Registers of Scotland, the Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Office of the Public Guardian. Notes of such meetings and in particular any practical tips coming from them are communicated to the membership either through the SLAS website or through the Scottish Law Gazette.
- Members of the profession are now faced with exclusion from mortgage panels operated by national lenders, with replacement by public sector employees in the delivery of legally aided services and with a new Law Society Constitution which has been designed to greatly decrease the opportunity for members to have motions considered and resolved at General Meetings and with the creation of Legal Service Providers outwith the ownership of the legal profession and likely to be largely owned and entirely controlled by investment capital. If the solicitors’ profession is to survive this onslaught in any acceptable form which guarantees its independence and the access to justice of the public, then subscription to and support of the Scottish Law Agents Society is one certain way to give strength to that cause.
- SLAS Council believe that the profession both now and in the future may have much for which SLAS should be thanked. However, there is still much which requires to be done, both now and also in the future.
- If you are already a member, your subscription is gratefully acknowledged. SLAS, however, would ask you please to try to recruit one other non-member to join SLAS. If you are not already a member, then please consider carefully all that SLAS has done in the recent past, is doing now and will try to continue to do on your behalf in the months and years to come.
- We are a voluntary organisation. We could not do a fraction of the good work which we undertake on behalf of the profession without a solid membership paying their annual subscriptions.
- Subscriptions are currently £80 per annum for all Solicitors except those who are training, those who have been qualified for three years or less or those who are retired, each of whom pays a subscription of £40 per annum.
- SLAS Council sincerely believes that this subscription represents excellent value for money.
David P H MacLennan, President
For SLAS Council, June 2011.
Stop the Press - November 2011
Since producing the above, the following additional matters have to be added.
- In March 2011 the Council of the Law Society (CLSS) produced a draft constitution to replace the existing constitution. The content of the new document was simply “non utile” and, frankly, a potential embarrassment to the profession. Although, with the support of CLSS, an AGM majority voted in favour of the new constitution, SLAS raised enough votes to avert the two thirds majority required for constitutional change. CLSS have now revised the draft in line with many of the requirements intimated by SLAS and others, and with common sense. Without the intervention of the SLAS membership, we would now have had the abortive constitution.
- Three solicitors from different Scottish cities have met with ill health and severe financial constraint and SLAS has mobilised, albeit modest, resources to assist these colleagues, none of whom, regrettably, have been SLAS members.
- After three years of SLAS opposition to Law Society Council Policy in favour of ABS, a senior Council Officer is quoted (on a personal not Council capacity) as follows, “if this (ABS) is what happens, the core work streams of many firms will be decimated, with obvious consequences”. If only the Law Society Council had heeded the SLAS warnings from the outset.
These events raise the question as to how any solicitor law agents in the country can reconcile with failing to support this Society.