THERE was a great sense of pleasure among all the attendees when Bruce Ritchie was presented with Scott and Co’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Ritchie retired from his post as director of the Law Society’s professional practice team at the end of last year.
“I had spent 17 years in private practice before joining the Law Society. We started out with a team of two solicitors, then it was just myself and a secretary,” he said. “Since 1998, the professional practice team has gradually built up to five solicitors, all with experience in private practice.
“The main part of the work was being available to offer advice and guidance to solicitors; a kind of helpline if you like, whether by phone, e-mail, a meeting or an old-fashioned letter. These are people looking for guidance on ethics and Law Society rules regarding a particular aspect of a client relationship.
“We helped guide them on what they could or couldn’t say or do. It may be helpful in a client relationship to be able to say ‘Sorry, I can’t do that because it is contrary to the Law Society rules,’ for example.
“One of the things I got involved in from 1992 was the establishment of Solicitor Advocates and that was very satisfying. It gave me a sense of achievement to see people take those additional exams and see their future career development as a result.
“I do admire the courage of mid-career solicitors, or even those coming towards the end of their careers, who are prepared to take on the challenging business of new exams and assessments of their work.
“Of course I’m absolutely delighted and flattered to have won the award. It quite literally represents the whole time I was at the Law Society. Other people are probably far more deserving of an award. I’ve only got this one because I’ve been there so long!”
The modest Ritchie is now about to embark upon a second edition of the book he wrote along with colleague Alan Patterson, Law Practice and Conduct for Solicitors, but he’s not expecting to see it on sale in airport shops. He and his wife have just moved house to Newmills in Fife and are looking forward to a four-week holiday in the west of Canada and Alaska.
“To be honest, I was ready to retire after 42 years, so I don’t miss the daily work, but I do miss the company.”