This month's profile features Ian Moir, convener for criminal work of the Society's Legal Aid Committee
What is your own practice area?
I mainly do criminal defence work but also do some children’s referral cases, fatal accident inquiries (FAIs) and proceeds of crime cases.
What motivates you to get up on a Monday morning?
Although my job can be difficult and stressful at times, I find it very interesting and challenging. I am lucky enough to have great colleagues and I love the variety of work.
What’s your top tip for new lawyers?
The most important thing is to ask for help! Other lawyers will always help you and it’s better to ask a colleague than get it wrong in court. Always try as hard for your client as you would if it was your own case – even if the client is difficult or demanding.
How long have you been a member of the committee and how did you become involved?
I have been on the Legal Aid Committee for about four years now. I got involved after the cuts to the fees in the stipendiary magistrate’s court and others. I decided it was better to try and do something about it rather than just complain from the sidelines.
What have been the highlights for you personally?
I have given evidence in the Scottish Parliament. The work of the committee is challenging and at times thankless, as a result can be stopping a further cut, but I do feel we make a difference.
What big project/issue is the committee working on at the moment?
We have launched a paper seeking to make major changes to the whole legal aid system to make it better for all who use it. We want to reduce the burden of administration for lawyers and introduce an early resolution fee in solemn cases, and we are seeking an increase in fees which have been falling for too long. Only if legal aid is properly funded can the public be confident of being able to access a lawyer to defend their rights.
What do you see as the other main issues that the committee will have to address in the near future?
Other issues which remain in contemplation by the Scottish Government include the possible introduction of a contracting model. We do not see that the case has been made out for such a system. We want to see a better system in place which properly funds attendance at police stations without contributions being payable by clients.
Are you a member of any other committees?
The Legal Aid Committee meets more often than any other committee, so I have no time to serve on any others!
If you could change only one thing for your members, what would it be?
To secure increased fees to ensure legal aid is sustainable.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
I love spending time with my family, and I serve as a trustee of the Allander Youth Activity Trust which gives money to youth groups to help them do activities which are outwith their normal programme of events, such as camps, white water rafting, skiing etc. I also enjoy watching and taking part in many different sports.