On 15 September, the Access to Justice Foundation hosted the first virtual Scottish Q&A, with Kirsty Thomson, managing partner/director at JustRight Scotland, sharing the important work they have done, explaining how they had adapted to the pandemic, its impact on their service users, the current issues faced, and answering questions from attendees.
This session really inspired me and reinforced why we need to fundraise at Foundation events, such as the Scottish Legal Walks. As every pound raised in Scotland helps local legal advice charities, like JustRight Scotland, I resolved to join both Scottish Legal Walks again this year and help raise further funds for this worthy cause.
Glasgow: fine conditions
I joined the Glasgow Legal Walk on Tuesday 28 September, on a sunny and mild evening. The seven teams of walkers (including current and retired lawyers, colleagues, friends, family, and dogs) set out from Glasgow Sheriff Court, armed with maps and guides. We headed along and across the Clyde, up through the Trongate and Merchant City, circling back through the city centre, ending up at the Royal Faculty of Procurators in Glasgow, the sponsors of the event.
We enjoyed a welcome reception and Donald Reid, the past Dean of Faculty, provided an excellent address, congratulated us on completing our walk, reiterated why we had been walking and thanked all involved. Many thanks to the Foundation and to Laura Cassidy, the Faculty, Donald Reid, and Austin Lafferty, the current Dean of Faculty and guide writer, for all their help in organising the Glasgow walk.
Edinburgh: inspirational address
I joined the Edinburgh Legal Walk on Monday 11 October, on a dry but slightly cooler evening, and eight teams of walkers (current and retired lawyers, once again with colleagues, friends, family, and dogs) as we gathered in the Old College Quad. We were delighted to hear once again from Lord Tyre, senator of the College of Justice, who inspired and reminded us of why we were walking, and the importance of access to justice for all. Armed with our maps and guides, we headed off across the Meadows, through Lauriston and the Old Town, down North Bridge, across St Andrew Square, along York Place, through Greenside, Abbeyhill, Holyrood, and back to the Old Town, ending up in the Upper Signet Library for a reception.
Rebecca Samaras and Laura Cassidy spoke to us about the Foundation, why we had been walking, future events and thanked all involved. Many thanks to the Foundation and to Laura Cassidy, Lord Tyre, The University of Edinburgh and WS The Signet Library as sponsors of the event, and Rebecca Samaras, for all their help in organising the Edinburgh Legal Walk.
John Morrison, legal counsel at Aegon and a member of the Aegon walking team on the Edinburgh walk, summed it all up: “No just society is worthy of the name unless it can provide justice to everyone, excluding none. It is an encouragement to witness the legal profession out in force to support the ‘access to justice’ cause, and a privilege to be a small part of it.”
We have since enjoyed the Great Legal Bake and the 20th anniversary of Pro Bono Week, from 1 to 5 November, and look forward to the Great Legal Quiz on 1 December (which can be in person or an online event), and the return of the Scottish Legal Walks in autumn 2022. Follow the Foundation at Home – The Access To Justice Foundation (atjf.org.uk) and on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.
One final thought: while the Foundation covers the Scottish central belt with the Glasgow and Edinburgh Legal Walks, what about the rest of Scotland? Is there any local appetite to extend the Scottish Legal Walks further north? Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in getting more details of what would be involved in setting up new Scottish Legal Walks or helping with the existing Scottish Legal Walks.
Graeme McWilliams is a Fellow of the Law Society of Scotland, retired in-house lawyer, and committee member of the Access to Justice Foundation Scotland
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