The Law Society of Scotland held a conference on 28th September 2007 to consider the future of legal services in Scotland in the light the Office of Fair Trading report (see previously at No 661), reports Scott Wortley.  The conference was addressed by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill (see http://www.scotland.gov.uk/News/Releases/2007/09/28101658).  He told the conference,

I recognise that the profession must not blindly follow the English approach or adopt a model that is unsuited to our legal market. Our demography is different, the structure of the profession is different and the challenges for access to justice are different. I want the profession to take the lead in identifying distinctively Scottish solutions. In a global world, Scotland’s legal profession should be able to compete outwith their borders as well as within. A high quality legal profession will attract and retain commercial and financial business in Scotland.  … This Government is committed to access for all to high quality legal services and a competitive market which is appropriately regulated to ensure the public are protected and quality is maintained. We will do what we can to help the profession and to improve access to justice.

A well-known football supporter (for a previous tale of the adventures of Mr MacAskill in pursuing his love of the game see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/535592.stm), Mr MacAskill developed his theme with a finely honed football analogy.

Our very best Scots firms should, like the Old Firm and others, retain distinctive Scottish identities, but be able to compete internationally against the best in the world. But there must be a place for the smaller institutions – the Stirling Albions – that play an important part in their local communities; and the ambitious outfits – the Gretnas – who need to be able to grow and punch above their weight.

The writer’s home town team plays in the non-league at a ground where a man is stationed by a nearby river to recover wayward strikes.  This team lost out to Gretna in the battle to get into the Scottish Football League.  How such teams fit into the vision of the brave new world of legal services is unclear.  The editor notes that the last politician to make an analogy with Gretna FC subsequently got relegated/substituted/sent off (whichever the reader prefers – see anyway No 592).