Law Society of Scotland
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The Law Society of Scotland is the professional governing body for Scottish solicitors. It promotes excellence among solicitors through representation, support and regulation of its members. It also promotes the interests of the public in relation to the profession. The Society helps to shape the law for the benefit of both the public and the profession.
The Society was established in 1949 and its rules are set out in the Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1980. All practising solicitors, currently around 10,500, are members. The Society is funded by its members and has an annual budget of almost £8 million.
Lawyers in Scotland have been organised in professional bodies since at least the sixteenth century. The Faculty of Advocates was established as the body for practising advocates in 1532, though its origins are thought to date from even earlier. Other lawyers were represented by associations and faculties of procurators and solicitors. Among those that still exist, the Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet (WS Society) was formally established in 1594 and the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow was incorporated before 1668.
As the legal profession expanded in line with the volume of legislation introduced in the twentieth century, it became clear that a representative body for all solicitors was needed along with reform of the informal system of lawyers voluntarily providing legal services to those who could not afford representation, which had existed since 1424. The Legal Aid and Solicitors (Scotland) Act 1949 established the Law Society of Scotland as the governing body for solicitors at the same time as it laid the foundation of the modern legal aid and assistance scheme.
Solicitors elect representatives to sit on the Society's Council, the ruling body. The Council has overall responsibility for strategy and policy. The work of the Council is supported by the management Board, which draws members from the Council and the Society's executive staff. This is the principal decision-making team at the Society.
The Society's president and the vice president hold office for one year. The current president is Cameron Ritchie. Austin Lafferty is the vice president. The other office bearers are the treasurer and immediate past president, David McClements and Jamie Millar respectively. The chief executive is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Society, working with a staff of approximately 120. The current chief executive is Lorna Jack.
Most of the Society’s departments are grouped in three main areas of work: regulation and standards; membership and registrar; representation and support. Other departments work across those areas. Policy is developed by teams in law reform and education and training.
The work of the Society is supported by solicitors and non-solicitors who contribute their time and expertise through many committees and working groups.
The Society is in the process of reforming its structures and processes. Some new committees and the management Board have been established as part of this governance reform. A consultation on the composition and election of the Council has been held and a new constitution will be drafted.
- Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
- Faculty of Advocates
- Lord President of the Court of Session
- Law Society
- The Law Society of England and Wales
- Law Society of Northern Ireland
- Scotland Against Crooked Lawyers
- Scots law
- Scottish Court Service
- Scottish Legal Aid Board
- An introduction to our services. http://www.lawscot.org.uk/media/39493/an_introduction_to_our_services.pdf
- The Law Society of Scotland Annual Report 2009 http://www.lawscot.org.uk/media/2112/LS_Annual_Report_2009(4).pdf
- "The Profession of Advocates". Advocates.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
- "origins - The Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet". Thewssociety.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
- "Welcome - Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow". Rfpg.org. Retrieved 2012-07-22.
- The New Scottish Enlightenment
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- Law Society of Scotland organisation chart. http://www.lawscot.org.uk/media/105968/structure.pdf
- "Constitution consultation 2012". Lawscot.org.uk. 2012-05-31. Retrieved 2012-07-22.