The first of our new ‘Spotlight’ series features campaigning lawyer Mike Dailly, principal solicitor of Govan Law Centre, who is rarely out of the headlines.
Last week, he made a presentation to the European Banking Authority urging it to make greater use of its article 9 consumer protection mandate to help prevent misconduct in banking across the European Union.
What has been your best experience as a lawyer?
Have been so many! The bank charges litigation from 2005-2008 across the UK was a steep learning curve and involved working with a massive network of consumers and a great team. When we had to find terms and conditions of personal current accounts going back years, people found them, scanned them and sent them to me – it was people power. And drafting one of the earliest member’s bills in the Scottish Parliament, to abolish poindings and warrant sales, really helped me cut my campaigning teeth.
What has been your worst experience as a lawyer?
Doing the ‘bun run’ as a trainee, which meant getting the Empire biscuits in for a Glasgow solicitor who shall remain nameless (he knows who he is!). Suffice it to say it never tested my legal skills, and I have always treated all of my trainee solicitors over the years (there have been 10) as professional colleagues.
Why did you choose the law?
I realised from completing a politics degree that the law was a sure fire way to change society for the better and tackle injustices head on. Combining law with politics, and all of their different skill-sets, can get some powerful outcomes for people.
Who or what has been the greatest influence in your life?
My late mother and father primarily, my kids and close friends. I have very diverse networks and to be honest I’m always learning from people I meet. I’ll not ashamed to take whatever knowledge, insights, and techniques I can get!
What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in law?
I hear many lawyers say ‘I’d never advise anyone to come into law now’ with an assortment of moans and groans. I’m not dismissing many of the legitimate concerns, but my position is simple. The law is great. It’s a fundamental part of our social fabric and if it’s unjust then we can change it. It’s alive, and challenges you intellectually. And what better job is there to have in helping someone access justice? – whether that’s saving the roof over their head, winning damages, protecting their children’s rights or health. So go for it. And put all of your energy into it.
What would you want to be if you were not a lawyer?
I’m lucky in that I get to do lots of non-lawyer things – like getting involved in financial regulation at the Financial Conduct Authority and European Banking Authority, and working with the Scottish Housing Regulator and UK Money Advice Service.
How do you relax after work?
Good music, good people, and good cooking. I like the great outdoors and moments of calm.
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
There’s a great line in William McIIlvanney’s Laidlaw, “Are you are a tourist or a traveller son?’. I like to think I’m more of a traveller, and going to different places is what its all about. In the last year or so I’ve explored Munich, Copenhagen, Brussels, Cape Town, and Iceland. You can’t beat a holiday in London or Scotland though!