What made you pursue a career as a solicitor?
When I was growing up, my father, who had escaped the steel industry to qualify as a physics teacher, told me that I could do anything I wanted to do – except be a teacher. I think I was attracted to the dynamic appeal of the law – or at least my Petrocelli/Paradise Club perceptions – and I was inspired by Dan Russell a well known solicitor in Airdrie, Society Council member and a family friend. Dan had an air of universal competence, a problem solver who seemed imperturbable: someone to emulate.
Why did you decide to join this committee?
At the point when Past President Alison Atack stood down from convening the Client Protection Subcommittee, I was fortunate to take on the role. At the time CPSC dealt with both accounts rules matters and AML compliance. As a matter of more directed regulation and good governance, AML now stands apart. I thoroughly enjoy the challenges of CPSC, and AML is a continuation of that.
Have your perceptions of the Society changed?
It is to the credit of the Society that the majority of its members have no real view of the Society until something happens to them. As a legal aid practitioner it always felt that something was happening or, in relation to fees, not happening and, as a result, I was in regular correspondence with what was then the Legal Aid Committee. Someone decided to invite me “inside the tent” and in my time since then I have been hugely impressed by the commitment of the staff of the Society and the enthusiasm of the very many volunteer committee members who diligently carry out a huge volume of unseen work.
What have been the highlights for you personally?
Actually, I find every Council and committee meeting a highlight. It is both stimulating and satisfying to be engaged with informed, intelligent and interested people who wish to serve the Scottish public as well as the profession in the fields of regulation and practice.
What are the main issues that you think the committee has to address at the moment?
It remains necessary for each firm practising within the AML rules to ensure that they have policies and procedures to deter those who would use them to facilitate money laundering. This is simply a matter of everyday practice. There is a significant danger that a firm which is not scrupulous with regard to AML will find itself in considerable difficulty – and not just with the AML Committee.
What has been the most surprising aspect of your work as a committee member?
That our new AML Committee members decided to come back after the induction meeting.
What’s your top tip for new lawyers?
Take an interest in what you do, engage with your local faculty and with the Society but remember to balance work with other things. Every year my resolution is to work less, play more and make time for doing absolutely nothing.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
Law Society of Scotland board, Council and committees! And, when there’s time, my wife and daughters, cooking, travel and good friends.
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