THE new president of the Law Society of Scotland has said he understands the economic pressures many firms are facing and hopes the organisation can continue to help them.

Alistair Morris, who formally started yesterday, also heads Pagan Osborne and believes that experience gives him a real insight into the reasons why partners have been changing firms in higher numbers than in recent memory as well as the volume of mergers.

He said: "The tough economic conditions and adapting to change are issues close to my heart as chief executive of a company employing over 100 people.

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"I understand the ­challenges facing many of our members in planning, budgeting, keeping existing clients happy whilst securing new work.

"The Society can help firms to compete for the work, whether through contracted legal aid work or opening doors further afield, by working on enabling the right structures, such as alternative business structures."

Mr Morris said he hopes to carry the Society's ethos of providing value for money, as well as being relevant, approachable and accessible, through his presidency.

He believes Scottish solicitors can make an active contribution to the debate ahead of the independence referendum, although the Society will maintain its neutral stance.

He said: "All eyes will be on Scotland this September and we can add a great deal to the independence referendum debate. We are working on our second position paper on some of the big issues, building on the paper we published last year, which asked important questions about EU membership and the impact of independence on the economy.

"My predecessor Bruce Beveridge has done a brilliant job raising the profile of the profession, at home and overseas, and being president with such a spotlight on Scotland gives me a great opportunity to continue highlighting the work of Scottish solicitors."

Mr Morris has spent more than two decades as a member of the Law Society's Council, its ruling body."

Christine McLintock, the former general counsel for Pinsent Masons, became vice president of the Society yesterday.