Alison Atack: Don’t miss the Law Society of Scotland’s coming conference

Alison Atack is President of the Law Society of Scotland
Alison Atack is President of the Law Society of Scotland
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The UK’s most senior judge is set to examine how Scottish legal cases continue to influence wider UK law at our annual conference, Leading Legal Excellence, in Edinburgh next month.

Ninety years on from the infamous Paisley “snail in a bottle” case, which laid the foundation for modern law on negligence and enhanced consumer protections not just here in the UK, but across the world, Baroness Hale of Richmond, President of the UK Supreme Court, will look at the way in which more recent Scottish cases have continued to shape UK law.

Lady Hale has had a groundbreaking career and been an inspiring figure for many. As the first woman to serve as a Justice of the Supreme Court she really has been a leader of legal excellence and I am very much looking forward to her exploration of Scottish case law across a range of areas – including discrimination, negligence and constitutional law – in her keynote address.

Needless to say Brexit – and making sense of its impact on Scotland and its legal and business sectors – runs throughout the conference agenda.

EU and UK constitutional law specialist Aidan O’Neill QC will draw on his involvement in intervention cases so far to examine the likely landscape for constitutional litigation after we leave the EU. Iain Anderson, Executive Chairman of Cicero Group, will be exploring the impact of Brexit on Scotland’s place in the world from a “city” perspective in a TED-style talk and there will be a panel discussion on how Scotland’s legal landscape is set to alter when the UK leaves the EU in March next year.

Lord Hope of Craighead, Lady Hale’s predecessor as Deputy President of the Supreme Court, will share his thoughts and experiences in conversation with our conference chair, Glasgow solicitor Austin Lafferty. Lord Hope will offer fascinating insights into his highly distinguished career – which has included spells as a QC, advocate depute, Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and Lord President of the Court of Session.

As convener of the crossbench (or independent) peers in the House of Lords, he also has a unique perspective on current constitutional developments and in contributing to debates, including those on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill.

Running a successful legal firm takes more than a deep understanding of black letter law and delegates can learn from Harvard Law School Distinguished Fellow and author Dr Heidi Gardner as she shares her theory of “smart collaboration”, which draws on her research on organisational behaviour in global professional services firms. Dr Gardner will explain how higher margins, greater client loyalty and staff retention can be gained by breaking out of silo thinking, which can be an unintended consequence of individuals becoming specialists in their narrow practice area.

The challenges of attracting – and retaining – future leaders is set to be explored in a panel session, as will diversity and the gender pay gap, where panellists include legal professionals from the Scottish Parliament, the Cabinet Office, the Equality and Human Rights Commission and private practice. In one of a series of sessions aimed at in-house lawyers, leadership and behavioural change consultant Ciarán Fenton will explore budgets, relationships and ethics.

The conference’s full and varied agenda, which will look at how best to address the risks faced by the profession, including anti-money laundering best practice, cyber security and the opportunities presented by technology and innovation, allows delegates to build their own programme for the day to match their areas of interest and practice. There will also be a series of interactive sessions, with topics as varied as managing millennials, the future legal office, wellbeing, and self and team development. Delegates also have the opportunity to gain one-to-one advice from leaders in their fields, as well as meeting with legal professionals and business leaders from Scotland and beyond.

It’s a fantastic line-up designed to cater to everyone with an interest in the law and business. I hope to see you there.

Leading Legal Excellence, the Law Society of Scotland’s annual conference, is on Friday 26 
October at the Edinburgh 
International Conference 
Centre. Visit
Alison Atack is President of the Law Society of Scotland