Thursday, June 09, 2011

Stooges to Go : Law Society of Scotland appoints nine non-lawyers with voting rights to its ‘fundamentally dishonest’ ruling Council

THE Law Society of Scotland has announced the appointment of nine new non-solicitor members with full voting rights to its Council, the body which controls the Law Society and in turn, the solicitor membership of the Scottish legal profession. According to the Law Society’s Press Release, the nine come from “a diverse range of backgrounds including the civil service, education sector and construction industry”, providing the usual source of suspects the Council can rely on to always vote with it, unless pretence provides a reason otherwise (Sounds like more stooges to go! – Ed)

The new non-lawyer members to the Law Society’s Council are a product of the Scottish Government’s skewed attempt to widen access to justice via the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010. A handful of non-solicitor members were also appointed to the society’s new “Regulation Committee”, reported on earlier this week by independent law journalist Peter Cherbi, HERE.

The changes brought about by the Legal Services (Scotland) Act 2010 including the new non-lawyer appointments to the Council attracted significant criticism from within the profession, also causing a bit of a ‘pantomime split’ with elements of the Glasgow Bar Association criticising various aspects of the changes, and then failing yet again to follow through on threats of legal challenges, even after one of its former Presidents, solicitor John McGovern branded the Law Society “Fundamentally dishonest at its core”.

Cameron Ritchie, president of the Law Society of Scotland, said: "This is a hugely significant change for the Society and will play a clear role in reflecting our responsibility to the public interest in relation to the solicitors' profession."

Mr Ritchie added: "The calibre of those applying to join both the Council and the regulatory committee and the Society's Council was extremely high. I'm greatly looking forward to welcoming back two of our former lay observers and to meeting and working with our new lay Council members, all of whom have a tremendous amount of experience and specialist knowledge from each of their areas of expertise and will contribute greatly to the work of Council and the Society as a whole."

Public advertisements for the non-solicitor positions on Law Society of Scotland’s Council and the regulatory committee were advertised across the Scottish press and media, with appointments made following an interview process. No photographs of the new non-lawyer Council members have been issued by the Law Society, provoking further criticisms of people behind closed doors cloaked in anonymity deciding on important matters of legal concern to the legal profession and public.

Clearly, the motives of anyone wishing to join an organisation such as the Law Society which has been branded dishonest, has been linked to voting fiddles, bullying, political manipulation and even interference in criminal investigations, are perhaps a reflection on those who end up winning the offered positions.

A legal insider speaking on condition of anonymity said today that being a non lawyer member of the Law Society of Scotland was akin to being a member of the BNP (Now now, there are many in the legal profession, public life & public service in Scotland who are members of such parties as we all know but don't publish – Ed)

Solicitor members, from a range of geographical constituencies and specialist areas of the legal sector, will continue to make up an 80 percent majority of Council. Society members also approved constitutional amendments to create a new regulatory committee with 50% non-solicitor members and a non-solicitor convener at the Society's SGM on 27 May.

Backgrounds of the new ‘non-solicitor’ members of the Society's Council :

Martin Allan (Glasgow -construction industry and local authority officer) - career in the construction industry and holds two honours degrees in construction. Technical member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Volunteer in both Citizens Advice Direct and Citizens Advice Bureau. Community member of a wide range of community organisations in Glasgow and the West of Scotland including Glasgow City Council, Drumchapel Anniesland Area Committee, West Glasgow Local Community Planning Partnership, West Glasgow Community Reference Group, West Glasgow Financial Executive Group, Glasgow Housing Association, Health Improvement Scotland Public Partnership and Health Improvement Scotland Disability Advisory Group.

Dr Bronwen Cohen (Edinburgh - Children in Scotland) Chief Executive of Children in Scotland and lay observer on the Council since 2006. Convener of the working party of the Council established to consider office bearer and convener remuneration.

Suzanne Dawson (Peebleshire - Marketing) - Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. Self-employed freelance marketing and business consultant. Former Chair of Borders College board of management. Former Vice Convener and Board Director of Scotland's Colleges. Former member of the board of management of Stevenson College, Edinburgh. Current Non-Executive Director of the Scottish Ambulance Service.

Christopher Fraser (Inverness - Surveyor) - Chartered Surveyor. Lay reporter member of the Society's Complaints Committee from 1998 to 2006. Current lay member of the Professional Conduct Committee as well as a lay member of the Professional Practice Committee. Trustee of the Board of Management of Inverness Harbour Trust. Former lay member of the Multicentre Research Ethics Committee for the Health Department of the Scottish Executive.

James Gallagher (Edinburgh - Central Government) - Former Head of Department of the Scottish Executives Justice Department up to 2005. Former Director General Devolution; Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of Justice up to 2010. Current Fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford University. Former Non-Executive Director of a number of Scottish Life Assurance companies and currently Non-Executive Director of Barclays Life and Windsor Life Assurance Companies. Current Non-Executive Director of Lothian & Borders Police Force.

Professor Stewart Hamilton (Switzerland - Accountancy) - Emeritus Professor of Accounting and Finance at IMD, Lausanne Switzerland. Lay observer on Council since 2006, Chairman of the Society's Audit Committee.

Professor Kay Hampton (Glasgow - Higher Education) - Emeritus Professor in Community and Race Relations at Glasgow Caledonian University. Commissioner to the Scottish Human Rights Commission. Member of Children's Panel in Glasgow. Former Commissioner of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. Former Chair, Deputy Chair and Commissioner, Scotland and UK for the Commission for Racial Equality. Former Chair and UK Board Member for the Community Fund, Lottery Fund.

Robin McGill (West Lothian - Engineering) - Engineer with business career with BP culminating in role as Managing Director, BP Grangemouth. Former Chief Executive of the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET) and the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE). Former Council Member of the Scottish Confederation for Business and industry (CBI) and former Board Member of the Scottish Enterprise Forth Valley as well as a Council Member for the Society of Engineering Institutions.

John Reid (Stirling - Intellectual Property and Manufacturing) - Businessman and currently working for Scottish Enterprise but returning to the Private Sector later in the year. Extensive background in intellectual property and heads the team at Scottish Enterprise which deals with the capitalisation of intellectual property assets. Former member of the Prime Minister's Initiative to Foster Business and commercial relationships with Eastern Europe.

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