I have now prepared the subscription notices for 2011 and will issue these before the holiday period. The subscription has not been increased for as long as I can remember but this year (2010) has been beset with huge, unscheduled expenses arising from the ABS debate, including a number of General Meetings of the Law Society, rescheduled General Meetings, referenda and frequent large mail outs. The accounts for the year were in fact crashing into deficit until we received a number of voluntary donations from members so that these accounts may well end up marginally in the black. I have not been able to write individually to donors but I hope they will accept this notice as a mark of significant gratitude on behalf of myself and the Society’s Council.
Council has now decided, in order to address any similar issues arising 2011, to spread the burden more evenly by increasing the annual subscription to £80.00 (£40.00 for trainees and newly qualified members). This will enable Council to participate fully in any ongoing debate on behalf of the membership and, in real terns, still reflects a subscription level of substantially less than it was in 2004 when I started as secretary to the Society. Along with the subscription, you are invited to make a donation to the Scottish Solicitors Benevolent Fund (SSBF) either by a one off payment or by completing a bank standing order. A donation of £10.00 per member, in current terms, would meet the whole of the demands made on the Fund for the current year.
I have also enclosed with the subscription notice a blank form of Open Proxy for you to complete and return. The use of this document is likely to save the Society considerable time and expense during 2011 and at the same time, fully protect your individual participation in the affairs of the Law Society. Once SLAS holds your proxy, you can direct its use or cancellation at any time by e-mail to the secretary and you can find out by reference to our website at www.slas.co.uk what issues are currently being addressed by your Council and what policy they propose to adopt in relation to these issues. You can also assist in the instruction of that policy by sending your views by e-mail. We will, as far as reasonably practicable, ensure that your proxies are applied in terms of your directions.
I cannot emphasise how much more expensive it is to issue information on paper than it is to send out e-mail communications (1000 : 1) and I have therefore included a request for your e-mail address, to be returned on paper (?) or, more logically, by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org under the subject matter “SLAS e-mail” and providing me with your name and address. This obviously makes sense.
The problems of those colleagues who have been made redundant, and of their dependants, can be addressed in two ways. In the first place, in emergency cases, basic financial assistance may be available through the SSBF or the Tod Foundation. In the second place, it might be possible to keep such colleagues in touch with the profession by providing them with part time, even non-remunerated, positions on a short term basis until, hopefully, matters improve during the year. If you would be interested in participating on either side of such an arrangement then please intimate that interest to the SLAS secretary in terms of the Society’s Keeping In Touch Programme (KITP).
We have included along with the subscription notice a request for your views in relation to the topics of Alternative Business Structure (ABS) and Home Reports because these will both remain as live issues during 2011. You are requested to complete and return these enquiries and, separately, to provide us with your views on any other issues so that the SLAS Council policy may be as fully as possible informed as to the views of the membership.
I have drawn up the subscription notice and relative papers with a view to keeping you amused and entertained throughout the forthcoming., annual interruption of business (Christmas and New Year) and you are invited to receive these papers in that spirit and to let me have a full and prompt return so that both myself and SLAS Council can hit the ground running from the commencement of 2011.