Looking to the future while going about their lawful business

THE head of the body that oversees Scotland’s solicitors is in the Borders today to discuss the future role of the legal profession north of the border, writes Bob Burgess.

Cameron Ritchie is president of the Law Society of Scotland – of which all the country’s practising solicitors are members – and is on a week-long tour of southern Scotland.

Members from faculties in the Borders are in sessions with their president at meetings in Duns and Melrose.

Solicitors are facing changes both in the law and in the way they are allowed to operate.

And Mr Ritchie says that, like other sectors of the community, they are not immune to the current financial situation.

He said: “The past few years have been a time of rapid change for the legal profession, coupled with the ongoing economic downturn which has meant severe restrictions in public spending and cutbacks in the private sector.

“There will be no let-up in the pace of change for the profession as next year will see the first alternative business structures, following the Scottish Parliament’s legislation passed in 2010, which will allow solicitors to set up in business with other professionals to provide legal services .

“We want our members to be as well informed as possible so that they can plan ahead and ensure their business continues to succeed. More importantly, we want our members to have an opportunity to contribute their views to their professional body. That is why we want to listen to the concerns and better understand issues that they face on a local as well as national level.” Mr Ritchie will also explain changes to the society’s practice and accounts rules, and new training requirements for solicitors, and also listen to the challenges that solicitors are facing in the Borders.

Kirstie MacNeill, a solicitor with East Lothian Council, is also attending the meetings. She is an elected representative for solicitors in Haddington, Peebles, Jedburgh, Duns and Selkirk on the Law Society’s Council.

She commented: “I think it’s essential for the society as a membership body to be aware of the different issues solicitors are currently facing and how they can continue to best help their clients”.

The Law Society of Scotland was founded in 1949 and is financed by its members without government assistance.