Govan Law in the honours at awards dinner in Glasgow

by David Black
© The Herald
Originally published: 17.09.2007
More than 580 lawyers, spouses, friends and colleagues turned out at Glasgow's Crowne Plaza hotel last week for the Law Awards of Scotland 2007 in association with O2 the biggest yet in the event's four-year history.

A record number of entries was received for the Scottish profession's premier awards ceremony. The event is organised by The Firm magazine and supported by The Herald, which this year sponsored the lifetime achievement award.

It was given to Professor Sir Neil McCormick, who unfortunately was unable to attend the dinner. However, he sent a brief acceptance speech.

In it he said: "It is with the greatest regret that I have found myself unable to attend this auspicious event owing to an unbreakable prior commitment.

To receive a lifetime achievement award is at once humbling and thrilling, and I am more grateful than I can say to those who have thought fit to honour me in this way.

"My only hesitation concerns the lifetime element - at a boyish 66, I hope I still have a little fuel in the tank. Many thanks, and sincere apologies for absence."

The scope of McCormick's entry in Scotland's who's who illustrates a long and distinguished legal and public career, and goes some way to justifying the judges' choice.

McCormick was born in Glasgow as the Second World War raged in Europe, he attended Glasgow High School and later read law at Glasgow University and Balliol College, Oxford. He began lecturing law in Dundee in 1965, going on to lecture at Balliol College, Oxford University and Edinburgh University.

During his time lecturing at Edinburgh University, he enjoyed two periods as the dean of the law faculty between 1973 and 1976 and 1985 to 1988.

The late eighties and nineties saw him hold numerous public positions ranging from membership of the Broadcasting Council of Scotland, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and as vice-president of the International Association for Legal and Social Philosophy.

His political career has centred on his membership of the Scottish National Party, and earlier this year he was appointed as a special adviser to Scotland's new government and First Minister Alex Salmond.

Judging for the awards was carried out by a team of Scottish legal luminaries chaired by Mhairi Richard QC. On the team were Robert Pirrie of The WS Society, Malcolm Wood of Standard Life, Paul McBride QC, Ian Truscott QC, and David Semple of Catalyst Mediation.

The two-stage judging process, introduced last year, was designed to make the Law Awards of Scotland the only truly independent legal awards in the country.

It began with the polling of around 6000 clients and legal professionals, asking them to rate those they believed to be the cream of the profession. The firms and professionals to achieve the highest ratings were then invited to submit a 1000-word report outlining why they deserved to be named as a winner in their category.

Supporting the The Law Awards of Scotland 2007 were many of Scotland's leading suppliers to the legal profession.

As well as O2, they were MacDonald Reid Scott; Stirling Park; Professional Office Supplies; Axiom Business Computers; Lexis Nexis Visualfiles and Interaction; Central Law Training (Scotland); Towry Law Services; Bank of Ireland; Instruct Counsel; First Scottish Group; the WS Society and The Herald.

Cathy Jamieson MSP was the keynote speaker, and Donald Findlay QC returned, by popular demand, to reveal the results.

Mhairi Richard said it was with great pride that the panel of judges was able to reward the work of the Govan Law Centre in Glasgow for its "heroic" work at the sharp end of the law.

She paid tribute to what she described as a "committed and dedicated" team of lawyers defending the rights of the most deserving, yet so often denied, of our society.

The solicitor of the year award to the centre's managing partner, Mike Dailly, was tribute to the fact that at any one time he is dealing with some 200 cases, and running the practice.

THE WINNERS

Chairman's award, sponsored by LexisNexis Visualfiles and Interaction: Govan Law Centre.

Lifetime achievement award, sponsored by The Herald: Professor Sir Neil MacCormick.

Law firm of the year (more than 50 fee earners), sponsored by O2: Lindsays.

Law firm of the year (less than 50 fee earners): Bird Semple.

Solicitor of the year, sponsored by Bank of Ireland: Mike Dailly, Govan Law Centre.

Managing partner of the year, sponsored by Central Law Training (Scotland): Telfer Blacklock, Blacklocks.

Paralegal of the year, sponsored by The Society of Specialist Paralegals: Riikka Janhunen, Morton Fraser.

Family law firm of the year: Morton Fraser.

Private client firm of the year, sponsored by Towry Law: Brodies.

Up-and-coming law firm of the year, sponsored by MacDonald Reid Scott: Morisons.

Employment law firm of the year: Maclay Murray & Spens.

In-house lawyer of the year: Malcolm Wood, Standard Life.

Commercial property firm of the year, sponsored by Axiom Business Computers: Semple Fraser.

Litigation firm of the year, sponsored by Stirling Park: Simpson & Marwick.

Criminal lawyer of the year: John McElroy, McCusker McElroy & Co.

Corporate lawyer of the year, sponsored by Professional Office Supplies: Uisdean R Vass, Maclay Murray & Spens.

Up-and-coming lawyer of the year, sponsored by WS Society: Fiona Fyfe McDonald, Pagan Osborne.

Legal personality of the year, sponsored by Stirling Park: The Lord Advocate, Elish Angiolini QC.

Trainee of the year, sponsored by Instruct Counsel: Audrey Dishington, Pagan Osborne.

Conveyancing firm of the year, sponsored by First Scottish Searching Services: Morton Fraser.

Law lecturer of the year, sponsored by Bank of Ireland: Professor Kenneth Norrie, Strathclyde University.