Society of Scottish Lawyers in London
The Society of Scottish Lawyers in London is a members' club, founded in 1987, of Scots lawyers in London.
Under the club's first constitution, membership was limited to lawyers (advocates or solicitors) admitted to practise in Scotland and who have a residence or place of business in London. In 1989, the membership criteria were relaxed to admit Scots who are English lawyers or lawyers admitted to other jurisdictions, but who are not admitted to the
Faculty of Advocates(the bar in Scotland) or members of the Law Society of Scotland(the solicitors' branch of the Scottish legal profession).
The society attracted a considerable number of London's Scots lawyers, and its initial membership roll was a who's who of the most distinguished Scots lawyers in Parliament, including Lord Emslie, then
Lord President of the Court of Session; Lord Ross, then Lord Justice-Clerk; Lord Keith of Kinkel, then the senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary; Lord Fraser of Tullybelton, the second Scots Lord of Appeal in Ordinary; Lord McCluskey, former Solicitor-General for Scotland and then a judge of the Court of Session; Lord Cameron of Lochbroom, then Lord Advocateand later a judge of the Court of Session; Malcolm RifkindQC MP, then Secretary of State for Scotlandand later Secretary of State for Defenceand Foreign Secretary; John Smith QC MP, then shadow Chancellor of the Exchequerand later leader of the Labour Party; Donald DewarMP, then shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, and later First Minister of Scotland; Lord Hope, then Dean of the Faculty of Advocates and later a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary; and Alistair DarlingMP, later Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.
The Society's inaugural meeting was held in October 1987 in the Cholmondeley Room at the House of Lords, where Lord Cameron of Lochbroom was the host.
The Society was established to enable Scots lawyers in London to make and maintain its contacts with one another, principally through social events.
At first, the Society held a variety of social events, including an annual Burns Supper, an annual dinner, wine tastings, visits to places of historical interest and the like. The interest of members in the range of activities was not sufficiently strong, and since the mid-1990s the Society's only event has been its annual Burns Supper, which is always held on the Thursday nearest 25 January in the Whitbread Brewery, Chiswell Street, London EC1. It is usually significantly oversubscribed.
The Society's most notable Burns Supper was its second - in January 1989 - when three of its most senior politician members spoke on the night: Malcolm Rifkind QC MP, who proposed the toast to the immortal memory of
Robert Burns; John Smith QC MP, who proposed to the toast to the Society; and Donald Dewar MP, who proposed the toast to The Lassies. The event was recorded on film, and the videotape is now a precious asset of the Society, especially since Mr Smith and Mr Dewar died in 1994 and 2000 respectively.
The Society's current President is Mr Graeme Davidson.
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