This month's Council profile turns to Kilmarnock criminal defence lawyer Simon Brown, one of two members for the Kilmarnock, Greenock and Paisley sheriff court districts
What is your own practice area?
I practise exclusively in criminal law, and have done for the last 18 years. As a solicitor advocate, I get to deal personally with a huge range of cases from the justice of the peace court to the High Court.
What motivates you to get up on a Monday morning?
I’m one of those annoying people that enjoy their job. It’s interesting, varied and at times exciting. Plus I work with a great group of people, both in my office and at Kilmarnock Sheriff Court.
What’s your top tip for new lawyers?
It’s never too early to get involved. Do work experience/internships/shadowing to make connections in your chosen field, and make use of social media to raise your profile. Twitter is a great way to make contacts.
How long have you been a member of Council and how did you become involved?
I’ve been a member of Council since May 2013, when I became involved following my participation in the Protest for Justice Movement about contributions in criminal legal aid. When a Council vacancy appeared in my constituency, I saw that as an opportunity to take the argument further, and play a role in shaping policy.
In what specific capacities have you served (office bearer, committee or other)?
As well as being council member for Kilmarnock, Paisley and Greenock, I also sit on the Solicitor Advocate Committee and the Audit Committee.
What have been the highlights for you personally?
I have been impressed by the very high levels of debate and engagement in Council meetings, and in particular the willingness of everyone to take part. It came as a welcome surprise that an ordinary Council member could play an active role in shaping policy. And meeting Lorna Jack has to be a highlight too!
How do you keep in touch with members in your constituency?
In Kilmarnock we have a Dean’s Council meeting once a month which I attend, and I also make use of emails to get information across quickly.
What do you see as the main issues that your local members want Council to address at present?
Legal aid. Both criminal and civil is a big issue locally at the moment, with my members keen to see the Society playing an active role in turning the recent tide of cutbacks.
What do you see as the other main issues that Council has to address at present?
Legal aid is a pivotal issue for a large sector of the profession, and I think the Society is doing the right thing by leading the argument as opposed to reacting to SLAB. The role of solicitor advocates is also coming under increasing scrutiny from the High Court, with the Society again robustly leading from the front in its defence of members' interests.
If you could change only one thing for your members, what would it be?
Legal aid should be automatically granted within the constraints of the client’s finances. If someone is being prosecuted by the state, it should not be for another arm of the state to comment on the seriousness, or otherwise, of the charges against them and whether or not they need representation.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
With the solicitor access recording form (SARF) procedure and the Legal Aid Board’s solicitor contact line, work usually keeps me busy outside of work! Apart from that, I play bad golf and slow football.