This month's Law Society of Scotland Council member profile: Kirstie MacNeill (Haddington and Borders districts member)
What is your own practice area?
I am a corporate legal adviser with East Lothian Council. I head the litigation and licensing team. I am also the clerk of the licensing board and have responsibility within the council for data protection and freedom of information. I also act as depute monitoring officer for the council, so have a responsibility to ensure that the council acts in accordance with the law. I give legal advice both to officers and to the politicians who are members of the various council committees.
What motivates you to get up on a Monday morning?
My two Jack Russell terriers get restless and demand attention at about 6 each morning, but I never have any real difficulty in getting motivated each morning as I really enjoy my job.
What’s your top tip for new lawyers?
Never say “That’s not my job.” Always be flexible and don’t be afraid to tackle new challenges.
How long have you been a member of the Society’s Council and how did you become involved?
I have been a Council member for four years. I became involved when I saw an appeal in the Journal for a second representative for East Lothian, Selkirk, Jedburgh, Peebles and Duns. I felt that I had reached a stage where I was in a position to give something back to the profession, so I volunteered.
In what specific capacities have you served (office bearer, committee or other)?
None. I am full of admiration for those who do serve on additional committees and as office bearers, but I am afraid that I am not in a position at the moment to undertake any additional commitments.
What have been the highlights for you personally?
When I joined Council I didn’t really know what to expect, but the ABS debate was beginning to escalate at that point and the general meeting at Murrayfield stadium was certainly a highlight. It was highly charged and all areas of the profession seemed to be represented and eager to have their say. As a new member of Council I was a little overwhelmed at the strength of feeling.
How do you keep in touch with members in your constituency?
Morris Anderson is the other member for the constituency, and since he is based in Peebles and I am in Haddington we informally agreed that he would be main point of contact for the Borders Faculties and I would liaise with the East Lothian Faculty. The arrangement seems to work well. I keep in touch with the East Lothian Faculty mainly by email via the Dean and secretary.
What do you see as the main issues that your local members want Council to address at present?
By far the biggest issue locally at the moment is the proposal to close Haddington and Peebles Sheriff Courts and to transfer all business to Edinburgh. There is generally strong opposition to the proposals, not only on the basis of the effect it will have on local solicitors but also on the ability of local residents to access justice. The local members will expect ongoing support from Council to oppose the proposals. I believe that the response to the consultation exercise is expected on 9 April, so by the time this is printed matters may have moved on.
What do you see as the other main issues that Council has to address at present?
I think that Council should focus on better communication with members and try to reach a point where members can vote on important matters electronically. It is also important to continue to promote the profession and the solicitor brand as adding extra value.
If you could change only one thing for your members, what would it be?
If I had a magic wand I would kickstart the economy, but many others more qualified than me have already tried that one!
What keeps you busy outside of work?
Family, walking the dogs and cooking for pleasure.