New Year, Next Steps

Edinburgh Fireworks, by Kirsty McWhirter. Some rights reserved (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)The public side of our campaign has been quiet since in October. But the start of the new year is a good time to review our progress so far and look ahead to the next steps in the campaign.

For much of 2012, our campaign has focused primarily on the issue of student support to DPLP students. This is the single biggest financial hurdle on the route to qualification. Regrettably, the Scottish Government have refused to acknowledge or engage with a discussion on the way in which the current funding arrangements work against fair access to the profession. This is all the more disappointing given the support we have had from politicians of all parties and organisations such as NUS Scotland.

Having written to the Minister concerned, secured a debate in Parliament and hosted an event in the Scottish Parliament, we have exhausted most of the formal routes for lobbying the Scottish Government, although we’d be keen to hear from anyone else with ideas on this.  In the meantime, we will keep lobbying behind the scenes where we have established contacts and whenever we can identify opportunities to raise the issues again in the public forum (such as last week’s Herald article on access to the legal profession).

However, as discussed at the October event, the funding issue is not the only hurdle to fair access. The legal profession is responsible for regulating the route to qualification so, in the longer-term, it must be the profession itself that takes responsibility for ensuring all can compete on a level playing field, regardless of their personal or family financial circumstances. There are also other issues related to access to the profession – such as the mis-match between DPLP graduates and available traineeships – that the funding issue would not resolve.

Over the next few months, CFALP hopes to encourage debate within the profession on this topic.  As part of this, we have been invited to meet Mr Lafferty, the President of the Law Society of Scotland, on Monday 21 January, together with some of the key people within the Society with responsibility for Education and Training.  We are also grateful for the support of the Scottish Young Lawyers’ Association and the Trainee and Newly Qualified Society for this meeting.

CFALP Campaign Coordinator, Tim Haddow, said:

One of the real positives from our Scottish Parliament event in October was the level of interest and support shown by the profession and the Law Society for Scotland. This meeting has come about from the contacts established at that event and CFALP welcomes the opportunity to discuss fair access to the profession and our campaign with those at the very top of the Law Society.




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