Friday, April 03, 2009

Law Society of Scotland supports legal services reforms as long as it runs the show

No big surprise that the Law Society of Scotland has backed the Scottish Government’s Legal Profession Bill consultation, on the proviso of course, that it will still control the legal services market and set standards for legal representation in Scotland (what standards ? – Ed)

Law Society Press Release :

Law Society backs major reform to modernise Scottish Legal Services

The Law Society of Scotland has backed major reform to legal services in its response to the Scottish Government consultation ‘Wider choice and better protection’, which closes today, Friday 3 April.

The Society believes that Scotland’s legal profession should be able to offer its services to best meet the needs of modern society and a global economy. It has pressed for change to allow solicitors the option of adopting an alternative structure, which might include a joint practice with non legal professionals, or allowing other providers to offer legal services to consumers in addition to retaining the current partnership model. Currently in Scotland, only solicitors can own law firms and form partnerships with other solicitors.

Richard Henderson, president of the Law Society, said: “The Society has been active in driving this debate forwards, believing there is a real need to modernise legal services in Scotland and help ensure that those providing them can adapt and thrive in a highly competitive and increasingly international market. Scots lawyers are well respected round the globe and we want to ensure that they have the opportunity to develop their businesses both now and in the future.

“Equally important is creating a means to ensure that access to legal advice is available to all those who need it and that strong consumer protections remain in place – effective regulation will be key to any plans for change.”

Mr Henderson added that it was crucial for Scotland to develop its own solutions in response to the calls for change in the legal sector, while taking into account developments in England and Wales, as set out in the Legal Services Act.

He said: “Scotland is entirely different as a legal jurisdiction with a much smaller and more scattered population and this, among many other considerations, must also be taken into account.

“The Society’s consultation response aims to assist the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament and its members in improving access to high quality and well regulated legal services. We would encourage the Scottish Government to amend or repeal the legislation that currently prevents alternative business structures as soon as possible.

“This is one of the most important issues to arise in the history of the Scottish legal profession and could result in far reaching changes for the profession, the Society and the public. We look forward to engaging with the government and others in the future development of legal services in Scotland.”

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