I would like to thank the former Chair, Jim Martin, for his leadership over what have been important years for the SLCC, and those who helped maintain continuity in our governance arrangements up to my appointment, particular Niki Mclean (acting Chair for a period) and Morag Sheppard (on our Audit Committee). And of course, our Chief Executive, Neil Stevenson, and all his team for their professionalism, hard work and commitment to serving the legal sector and communities across Scotland.
I’ve welcomed the opportunity to go out and meet with stakeholders from across the legal sector and from consumer organisations to understand their needs and to hear the issues they are most concerned about. That builds on a strong focus from the staff team on regular engagement with the legal profession, representative bodies, other regulators and consumer groups. Having joined with experience of regulation in other legal jurisdictions and other professions, I’ve been especially grateful for conversations which highlighted issues specific to the legal sector in Scotland. My thanks go to those who have taken the time to meet with me and I hope we can continue to work collaboratively together.
The organisation has continued to operate in a context of significant change this year, but the focus on improvement and customer service has been a constant. Drawing on feedback from our customers and best practice examples from other sectors and jurisdictions, we have continued to identify opportunities to improve the organisation’s efficiency, effectiveness and accessibility. That culture of challenge and development underpins our approach and stands us in good stead for the change to come via legislative reform.
We’ve set out clear calls for the reform we want to see to make the complaints and regulatory system work for everyone. We know the complaints system can be more efficient, more proportionate and more effective. We have the culture, skills and 15 years of expertise to help achieve that, but we need the right tools and flexibility to make it a reality. With the Regulation of Legal Services (Scotland) Bill now being scrutinised in Parliament, we will continue to share our experience and expertise to shape the best possible system for the future and to implement the reforms agreed.
That change-positive, outcome-focused attitude has been most obvious to me in the way the SLCC brought together its approach to staffing, technology and property to achieve a major shift in its own ways of working. Carefully balancing business need and staff flexibility has seen the organisation embed a flexible working model that has maintained performance on reduced resource and attracted significant interest in a crowded recruitment market. A drive to digital has reduced paper use, increased efficiency and improved cyber security. Together those improvements underpinned our ability to move to a new office space just after year end. This move will achieve savings of £500,000 over the next five years, underlining our commitment to value for money.
As we move into the final year of our current strategy, we’ve a lot to be proud of. This report outlines many of our achievements and the impact we have had. We are rightly ambitious on behalf of the people we serve, and the report highlights our culture of customer driven continuous improvement. That will continue to underpin our approach to delivering our statutory functions and playing our part in maintaining public confidence in legal services. There’s more – and welcome – change on the horizon but we are well-placed to inform it, to drive it and to put it to good use in the service of our communities and public interest regulation.