How it began

Collaborating to become stronger: The simple premise behind United Employment Lawyers. Malcolm Mackay, the founder, explains the reasoning.

By nature, good lawyers are careful and cautious. So rapid changes in the world of work take there time to filter into even the best law firms. In Scotland, local law firms pride themselves in their community knowledge and strong relationships, remaining close to their clients. Increasingly, this means focusing on specific aspects of the law – such as conveyancing and estate agency work, family law and trusts, and criminal work.

When it comes to the ever-changing employment landscape, many regional firms would defer to a larger corporate firm with an array of specialists.

But employment law now touches on the fabric of so much of the 21st century world of work, and Malcolm Mackay, a hugely respected employment law practitioner and a former partner with Maclay Murray & Spens, espied an opportunity to help fill this gap.

He sounded out the idea of network of law firms supported by a team of employment law specialists which the general firms could tap into with ease. Malcolm sounded out his friend and colleague Duncan McFadzean, of ELP Solicitors, and they both agreed with the right network they could help Scotland’s general practice lawyers and their clients in towns and communities across Scotland.

“It was a way of pulling together a group of like-minded lawyers from across Scotland and helping them with employment law, which is now an increasingly complex specialist field of law,” says Malcolm, who also founded Law at Work, now a stand-alone employment law business.
“With an open collaboration – and our regular network gathering – we can all build a stronger presence in the sphere of employment law.”

Malcolm picked up the phone and asked a group of lawyers across Scotland, from Oban, Elgin, Inverness, Stirling, Inverness, Fife, Falkirk and Livingston, if they’d like to join in. The answer has been a resounding Yes, this is interesting. Let’s do it!’

The inaugural gathering at the Signet Library in Edinburgh was in June 2013, and since then the network has been gathering pace.
“We got together in an informal way and we’ve called it United Employment Lawyers, because that’s exactly what it says on the box,” says Malcolm.
“We want to offer the big employment law advice in communities across the country. So that individuals and businesses in other parts of the country can find the top-level knowledge and independent support they need. And at a reasonable price too.”

Malcolm and Duncan will be among a panel of experts helping and advising the AEL network. “I have specialised in employment law for more than a decade and ELP Solicitors have an established employment law practice in Edinburgh. However, I find membership of United Employment Lawyers hugely exciting, and it is the natural step forward for our business. We are keen to be part of a nationwide group which will deliver employment law expertise across the country,” says Duncan.

“We want to play a part in ensuring that employees and employers across Scotland have access to real employment lawyers who are genuinely specialists in employment law. Employment law is a specialist area, it affects almost everyone at some point in life, and if clients are to receive the right advice they need to have access to the right lawyers. That is what I believe United Employment Lawyers is all about. Not only will it help clients across the country get excellent representation whenever they need it, but through up to date regular training and shared resources the members of United Employment Lawyers will be able to ensure that their lawyers do continue to be experts in their field.”

It’s a view echoed by Peter Brash, of Grigor and Young, based in Elgin. He said: “I am delighted to be part of United Employment Lawyers and excited about the increased scope it will give Grigor & Young to offer sound advice and a quality service within Moray and further afield. I hope it will provide me with the opportunity to increase my own expertise in the field of employment law and I hope the group as a whole will help improve access to justice in Scotland at a time when most changes affecting the law seem to be having the opposite effect.”

“At Falkirk Employment Law, Fraser Tait and Fiona Munn combine their experience to offer a broad range of services in the employment law field. For employers we can cover all your contract, policies & procedures needs: we can also advise on individual issues which arise such as discipline, redundancy, dismissal and discrimination. Our aim is to find a practical solution in the shortest possible time to allow you to get back to running your business. For employees we can advise on your employment protection rights and liaise with your employer with a view to achieving a satisfactory solution on an amicable basis.”

Falkirk Employment Law

“What I liked best about your service was the easy accessibility of Mr Brash and his ongoing support throughout.”

IM, Aberlour, Moray

“I appreciated Peter Brash’s caring attitude and his constant, easy-to-understand communication about the progress of the case gave me reassurance that our goal was always in sight.”

LC, Thurso, Caithness

“I was very happy to have such a caring solicitor as Peter Brash in the circumstances. He explained everything step by step. I always felt able to contact him with any worries I had and he had no problem at all with answering all my questions.”

JF, Fort William, Inverness-shire

“I felt I received a good personal service from Grigor & Young. Peter Brash was a good communicator and he didn’t give up or ever allow us to be intimidated.”

DB, Orkney

“I came to see you for advice on this problem because when you were acting for the Claimant in the case against me previously I was impressed with your no nonsense and practical approach to settling the case.” And “You were absolutely brilliant throughout the whole saga and were so professional and non-judgemental – and friendly! I admire your ability to know your profession inside out and be able to ‘get to the bottom’ of the situation. As I have not had to use a lawyer before, I was a little nervous but felt very comfortable telling you the whole story.”

“I wish to thank you for the considerable time and effort you have expended on our behalf and we are grateful to you for your wise counsel and professional assistance in this matter”

Chairman of Care Home

“We have used the services of Alison Forsyth for over 5 years now. We have always found her approach and advice to be of the “sensible and common sense” type. She works hard to explain matters in straightforward manner without over complicating the issues. Finally her fees for this service are very reasonable and we would not hesitate to recommend Alison going forward.”

David Ireland, Director 3R Solutions Ltd. (July 2013)

We are a small Edinburgh based Holiday accommodation letting and management agency. When we recently realized that we needed to formalize employment contracts for our staff. We asked advice from colleagues friends and family and ELP solicitors were recommended to us . We have found them to be very helpful and friendly and would gladly recommend them to any one requiring help and advice regarding employment law.

Edinburgh Holiday AccommodationAnabel Lyth

I’ve turned to ELP solicitors for advice and support on a range of legal matters and have found them to be friendly, fast and efficient. A lot of people are intimidated by solicitors but ELP go out of their way to make legal support easy and accessible.

Taste Communications, Marketing AgencyStephen Jardine, Founder

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