What made you pursue a career as a solicitor?
My initial plan wasn't actually to pursue a career in law. I began an English and Scottish Literature Degree at Glasgow University. This was with a plan to become a journalist. After my first year I didn't feel the course was what I was after so I made an application to transfer to Law. I also made the big money move from Glasgow Uni to Strathclyde Uni to study for my LLB.
Why did you decide to stand for Council?
I had been involved with the Glasgow Bar Association since 2009, initially as a committee member, then treasurer and finally served as President in 2015. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the GBA and when a vacancy arose to join the Law Society as a Council member I felt it was a great opportunity and decided to stand as a candidate.
Have your perceptions of the Society changed since you joined Council?
My perception of the work of the Society has altered dramatically. I now understand the depth and amount of work the Society carries out on behalf of the profession. Coming from a predominately legal aid or high street firm background, I can also see that the Society genuinely wants to improve the legal aid system for everybody.
What have been the highlights for you personally?
My highlight so far has been attending the monthly Council meetings and meeting the members from all over Scotland. I have also enjoyed hearing in detail about the diverse areas of law the Society deals with.
What are the main issues that you think Council has to address at the moment?
From my perspective I hope to be able to impact on legal aid reform and specifically encourage the Society to put pressure on the Scottish Government to increase funding for legal aid throughout the country.
What has been the most surprising aspect of your work as a Council member?
The biggest surprise so far has been the number of matters dealt with each month at Council meetings. The briefing papers often run into the hundreds of pages.
What are you most looking forward to as part of the Society’s new strategy?
I have been very impressed by the overall strategy of the Society heading towards 2020. The work being done behind the scenes to improve the Society's online profile, CPD offering and benefits for members are all areas that I wasn't really aware of until I joined Council.
What’s your top tip for new lawyers?
My top tip would be to get as broad a training as you can during your first two years. Try not to pigeonhole yourself into a certain practice area. A broad traineeship will stand you in good stead, whereas a very narrow training could lead to restrictions on your career going forward. Also, don't always go for glamour. Criminal law might seem glamorous but pension lawyers make more money!
If you could change only one thing for your members, what would it be?
If I could change one thing it would be the level of remuneration paid to those undertaking civil and criminal legal aid work in Scotland. A system that still operates on figures introduced in 1992 has to change.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
Away from work I am kept busy with my wife, a three year old son and a six year old who reckons she is really 14! I am also the player manager of the Glasgow Bar Association football team. I consider my squad to be the "Golden Generation" of Scottish lawyers' teams.
In this issue
- Legal protection of adults – an international comparison
- The UPC post-Brexit: unified, “emmental-ed”, or dead?
- Proof of purpose: IHT and APR
- Bankruptcy consolidated: what do I need to know?
- Dividends – compliant but challengeable?
- FGM mandatory reporting: an example to follow?
- Reading for pleasure
- Opinion: Neil Hay
- Book reviews
- President's column
- Next pieces of the jigsaw
- People on the move
- Beginner's guide
- As simple as that?
- Excellence in action
- "That is not how we do it here"
- Rebranding in the digital age
- Brexit: Brussels in a holding pattern
- Common areas: keep Pandora's box shut
- Police: qualified experts?
- Is that overprovision policy watertight?
- Impact assessments still important
- The vital paper trail
- Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal
- Controlling interests: problem questions
- Law under orders
- Prisoner correspondence: a reminder
- Law reform roundup
- Society, Parliament revamp law student competition
- Foundation for aspiration
- Payment fraud: take five
- Ask Ash
- Better together?
- Paralegal pointers