This month's profile features Grazia Robertson, member of the Criminal Legal Aid Negotiating Team and a former Council member
What is your own practice area?
What motivates you to get up on a Monday morning?
Habit. Having four children means you are used to getting up with the lark.
What’s your top tip for new lawyers?
Identify the good lawyers and ask their advice. Do it sooner rather than later. If they are good lawyers they will always be prepared to help.
How long have you been a member of LANT and how did you become involved?
About a year and I became involved against my better judgment! Before that I was Council member for Glasgow for about nine years. It was suggested to me that involving myself with the Society was a thankless task; however, I enjoyed my time there and became more appreciative of the skills involved in finding consensus in a room full of differing interests.
What have been the highlights for you?
Being referred to by Mark Harrower at the Edinburgh Bar Association Annual Dinner, as a vocal champion of the profession (or words to that effect – I’d had a sherry or two by then).
What big project/issue is the committee working on at the moment?
The issue in its purest sense is to seek to ensure that people appearing in the criminal courts of Scotland have good quality, properly funded legal representation. At its most basic, it is attempting to halt or stem further swingeing legal aid cuts.
What do you see as the other main issues that the committee will have to address in the near future?
Political interference and public apathy. The constant changes to the legal aid system inevitably lead to more Government control over the way we do our job. If we cannot represent our clients while acting to high professional standards, the system itself ceases to function properly. LANT argues the case not just for lawyers but for the criminal justice system as a whole. It is not all about self interest, but it's difficult to engage the voting public on this: people often, understandably, have more pressing worries. The argument is still worth making, but we should think more like politicians than lawyers.
Are you a member of any other committees?
The Criminal Law Committee.
If you could change only one thing for members, what would it be?
Persuading our branch of the profession that they should stand tall and be proud of working in criminal law – and I would like to secure better quality biscuits for Jim Stephenson during our LANT meetings!
What keeps you busy outside of work?
Practicing my signature karaoke song which, at the moment, is The Drifters’ “Come On Over to My Place”. (You will now be singing this in your head for the rest of the day….)