Monday, September 24, 2007

Scottish legal profession not training enough lawyers ?

Are we or aren't we training enough lawyers ?

The Scotsman reports :

Debating the hard questions, such as are we training enough new lawyers?


SCOTLAND still isn't training enough lawyers, according to speakers at the Balvenie Live Legal Debate in Glasgow.

The event, which was held at the Lighthouse on Wednesday, is the second of two debates held to launch the 2008 Scottish Legal Awards, which are sponsored by the Bank of Scotland.

Speaking from the floor, following comments from the panel, Rebecca Davies, founder of Cuthbert Recruitment said: "There are nowhere near enough lawyers. Firms can't find the staff to fill their vacancies. Firms need to introduce flexible working practices".

Her warning came after Neil Stevenson, deputy director of deputy director of education and training and head of diversity at the Law Society of Scotland, defended the rise in the number of students studying law, even though some complain of not being able to find jobs afterwards as lawyers.

"Scotland has an internationally respected legal education system," he said. He commented on the society's review of education and pointed to examples of good practice at universities.

"Second-year students at Strathclyde University are giving advice to the public on housing and other issues under supervision," Stevenson said. "They're not just studying law but also practising it too."

The Glasgow debate - which was chaired by David Lee, assistant editor of The Scotsman, which is the media partner for the Scottish Legal Awards - covered a wide range of topics.

The panellists were: Campbell Deane, head of the media and entertainment department at Bannatyne Kirkwood France & Co; Brian Fitzpatrick, advocate and former MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden; Robert Pirrie, chief executive of the WS Society; and Neil Stevenson from the Law Society of Scotland.

The panel dealt with some of the most talked-about legal issues of the day, including the collapse of the World's End trial and the second appeal granted to Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber.

The success - or otherwise - of the "right to roam" legislation was also discussed.

Fitzpatrick produced a map of the grounds around Kinfauns Castle, in Perthshire, around which a sheriff ruled that Ann Gloag, the Stagecoach founder, could exclude the public. He highlighted the fact that the Ramblers Association had been left with a large legal bill following the case, and that if it wanted to appeal then it would need a lot of money.

Fitzpatrick said that a public-interest defence fund, such as that available in England, could help individuals or groups to challenge decisions relating to the "right to roam" legislation, which could become a rule for the rich, he warned.

The debate came a week after a similar event in Edinburgh.

• For details of how to enter the 2008 Scottish Legal Awards, call KD Media on 0131 624 9840. For more information, visit

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