Anne Follin had a career in strategic planning at Scottish Airports and is a member of the Society’s Client Protection Committee
Tell us about your career so far?

Anne FollinHaving completed a degree in geography at the London School of Economics in 1979, I then moved to Glasgow University to do a Master of Philosphy in Town and Regional Planning. My first job was with Motherwell District Council, which I really enjoyed. I worked with a great set of people and received a really good grounding in all aspects of statutory planning.

I moved from there to the position of assistant planning manager for Scottish Airports (at that time still owned by the British Airports Authority), based at Glasgow Airport. Scottish Airports comprised Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Prestwick airports, all of which were very different and all facing different development issues. The next step was to Edinburgh Airport as planning and development manager, and then finally head of Planning for Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow (Prestwick had by then been sold).

I consider myself very fortunate to have worked in aviation at a time when the industry was growing rapidly. A large part of my role in all the above positions was to plan 15, 20 and 25 years ahead to ensure sufficient infrastructure capacity as passenger numbers grew. It really saddens me that the aviation industry, which used to employ so many people and supports so many other industries, has been hit so hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

How did you become involved with the work of the Society?

I took early retirement from BAA in 2010 and was keen to explore activities completely different to planning, but which would use my general skills. I knew the Society’s Director of External Relations, Kevin Lang, as we had worked together at BAA, and he told me about the role of lay members of the Client Protection Fund Committee (or Guarantee Fund as it was called at that time). I applied and was appointed.

What have you found most interesting about the committee’s work?

Having very little prior knowledge of the work of the Client Protection Fund, I’ve been really impressed by the scrutiny that is applied when inspecting firms and the discussion at the committee when deciding on appropriate action. The mix of lay members and solicitor members works really well, as we sometimes have different perspectives on issues and that ensures a well rounded approach to the cases which come before us.

What main issues do you think the Society has to address at the moment?

It has always surprised me how long the complaints process takes. The current long drawn-out process doesn’t serve either clients or solicitors well. It is definitely an area where reform is needed, which I’ve found is well recognised within the Society.

The current pandemic has obviously hit the Society and its members hard. For me the worst aspect has been having to hold committee meetings online. Although the quality of our decision making has not been impacted, I think we all miss the more general discussions, exchange of ideas etc which happens more naturally in face to face meetings (and before and after them). In the past the committee has felt like a very cohesive team, but as existing members leave and new members join, I think we will need to work extra hard to retain the relationships and dynamics which make committees such a valuable resource, until we can restore our meetings round a table.

If there was one message regarding the Legal Services Review that you could get across to the Scottish legal profession, what would it be?

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! I think it is perfectly possible to reform those areas which suffer from outdated legislation and processes without “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”. It’s so important that the Scottish solicitors and legal service users who will be affected by the outcome of the review, have their say and respond to the consultation.

What else keeps you busy?

I’m the chair of trustees of Home-Start Falkirk, a charity which supports families with children under five years of age who are facing challenges of one sort or another. I’m also a lay member of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport. When I get some free time, I like to relax. My husband and I are keen walkers, and prior to the pandemic enjoyed travelling as much as possible, both in the UK and abroad. We both have fairly large extended families, so really enjoy family get-togethers, preferably as well lubricated as possible!

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