Solicitor advocate Patrick McGuire of Thompsons Solicitors is under the SLN spotlight this week.
What has been your best experience as a lawyer?
I have had the honour of standing alongside many victim’s groups fighting for justice and campaigning for change and winning many hard fought victories that have made me proud. It is not appropriate to single out one group or one campaign. I therefore give an example of a matter where the outcome of an individual case made a big difference to the working lives and safety at work of many. The case isClement v Lothian Health Board. The Inner House of the Court of Session handed down a leading judgement on the extent of the obligation imposed on employers to provide suitable work equipment that resulted in the NHS changing its policy on providing its employees with safer needles. This significantly reduced the number of employees who suffer needlestick injuries each year.
What has been your worst experience as a lawyer?
My first day as an Equity Partner. I will never forget it. I was happy, excited and proud. I, however, purely by coincidence, found myself in my first, and only, disagreement with my friend, colleague and mentor, Frank Maguire. There are many words to describe Frank and formidable is certainly one of them. We had a full and frank exchange and we agreed that I was correct. That is certainly my story and I am sticking to it!
Why did you choose the law?
To my eternal shame, it came down to no more than the fact that I had the grades, did not have the stomach for medicine and lacked the imagination to formulate an alternative life plan. I can however say that by the time of applying for a traineeship, I had no doubt that I had stumbled upon the career for me.
Who or what has been the greatest influence in your life?
Professionally, three people. My dad showed me that a lawyer is a necessary and invaluable tool for trade unions and working people. Frank Maguire showed me how politics and campaigning can be as, if not more, important than a court room brawl to serve that purpose. Syd Smith continues to guide me (sometimes with a weary sigh and resigned shake of the head) as to how you can make a difference and still ensure that you run a business which is responsible for the incomes, mortgages and families of a large staff base.
What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in the law?
My dad was a lawyer. He and his pals were old school. I lost count of the number of times that, as I grew up, he and his pals told me “not to go into the law”. But I disagree. The law has got its challenges. It is certainly not a get rich quick scheme but it is a career through which you can really make a difference in people’s lives. My advice therefore to anyone thinking about a career in the law is – go for it.
What would you want to be if you were not a lawyer?
Brilliant – this question brings me back to the only legal interview I have ever had other than for Thompsons. Before securing my traineeship with Thompsons, I was selected for an interview with a “blue chip” firm which, at that time, employed psychometric testing for trainees. This question was actually asked during the interview process. Unprepared, I was flummoxed. I will give the answer now that I gave then; not because it in any way reflects my current view point but because it still causes me to laugh at my response at the time – “A member of a boyband”. Please do not judge the 23 year old me. I was caught on the hop with that question.
How do you relax after work?
I don’t! Things get far more stressful as soon as I get home. I have to deal with the lumbering (barely pre-teen) son that is Riley; his deep held sense of (entirely self) justice; and his booming, only just broken, voice that makes James Earl Jones sounds like a tenor. And Brodie, the flamboyant, future star of the boardwalk, 7 year old boy, with a love for Disney princesses and an ability to charm and throw a hissy fit in equal measure. Then there is the forthcoming baby McGuire boy number three…
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
I am going to be schmaltzy here. We have never been to the same place more than once and we regularly go on holiday with family groups and friends. My answer is therefore wherever my (extended) family are together and happy. Sunshine and the odd alcoholic beverage obviously help!