FOR 63 solicitors, today is a special day of celebration. After several years of hard graft and study, they are ready to take the first steps in their law career, whether it’s in a business or organisation, or with a legal firm.
They enter the profession during a period of change. This evolutionary process will continue for some time to come and our new solicitors will, during their careers, have an important role to play. I doubt that the solicitors’ profession – and the Law Society of Scotland – has ever been more relevant.
Our new solicitors will be helping people or organisations every day by delivering excellent service. More than that, they will help shape the delivery of legal services, using their familiarity with the latest technology and the evolving needs of society. Their own aspirations of how they want to work throughout what will likely be a differently shaped and longer career are also likely to be different.
For some – especially those who have yet to secure a traineeship – it may be a worrying time. The situation is not as bleak as it might look though; the trainee market is improving and should continue to do so. Neither is this an unprecedented phenomenon; the same situation applied when I entered the profession.
At the most recent admission ceremony, Lord Hope of Craighead encouraged those seeking a traineeship and concerned about the future to think positively and that “things would work out”. In doing so, he was repeating a message he delivered the previous time he had addressed new solicitors, some two decades ago – at my own admission ceremony. Lord Hope was proved right 20 years ago and I am confident he will be again.
That such eminent individuals – today those at the Playfair library will be addressed by Lord Cullen of Whitekirk – give their time to inspire those entering the profession gives a clear message about how important our new solicitors are for the health and prosperity of the profession and those whom they serve.
The Law Society is here to help our new solicitors every step of the way, whichever path they decide to take. We are here for them, to represent their interests, provide help, guidance on ethics and professional practice and ongoing training. For those entering a traineeship, we have support services to talk through any issues which arise. For those hunting for a traineeship, our website www.lawscot.org.uk has information and traineeships are advertised on www.lawscotjobs.com.
All the most productive relationships are two-way, however, and there are many opportunities for those who have just joined the profession to get involved with the work of the Society – and the many other groups within the profession. We have an active Council and a wide range of committees that carry out invaluable work to shape the law and legal practice.
Today, the solicitors of tomorrow have come from as far as Spain, which demonstrates just how highly regarded Scots law is around the world. Of course many are from closer to home but the defining feature of them all is their readiness to provide help and advice to clients.
I am immensely proud of our newly-qualified solicitors who, today, deserve to enjoy the celebration of several years’ hard work before starting a challenging and hugely rewarding career in the law. I wish each of them every success.
• Bruce Beveridge is president of the Law Society of Scotland