WS Society launches accreditation scheme

Influential Scottish body The WS Society is seeking to modernise itself with the introduction of an industry standard for young lawyers.

The society, which aims to promote the highest standards in legal services, has set up standalone company Signet Accreditation to assess lawyers with around six years’ PQE.

WS ;chief ;executive Robert Pirrie said: “This gives individual lawyers a credential that’s personal to them. They don’t just work in a great firm with a great brand, but have a qualification that relates to what they do every day.”

Accreditation is based on client-facing skills and involves ;a ;three-stage assessment process. In the first stage lawyers face a simulated client, then have two hours to prepare a piece of written work for that client. In the second stage candidates are given five days to complete a piece of work that has been emailed out. Finally they have to sit a written exam.

To date appraisals have been ;carried ;out ;on commercial property and litigation lawyers, with corporate assessments due to begin in October.

Pirrie added: “We’re putting together a committee for in-house as well because we want to recognise in-house as a practice area.”

Signet’s board is chaired by Lord Cullen of Whitekirk and ;assessments ;are carried out by eight-strong committees.

Committee members include Law Society of Scotland president Richard Henderson, ;Professor Kenneth Reid of Edinburgh University and Standard Life ;general ;counsel Malcolm Wood.