One typical September evening in 2008, Ryan Whelan and Guy Grant had an uncharacteristically productive conversation in a public house. The conversation centred upon the idea that, although not qualified lawyers, the boys felt that they and other law students like them, could assist in bridging the access to justice gap within the North East of Scotland. It was resolved to found a law clinic. Tentative steps towards establishing Casus Omissus – The Aberdeen Law Project - were taken in November 2009. The project publicly launched in November 2010.
The management board, which consists of respected legal practitioners, are responsible for approving the annual strategic objectives of the clinic, assessing performance in the previous year and guiding the faculty committee as regards the year ahead.
Operating under the direction of the management board is the faculty committee. This consists of Malcolm Combe (Lecturer in Law) and a small number of students. The students within this group, which is led by the Student Director, have day to day responsibility for the organisation and operation of the Aberdeen Law Project.
The Aberdeen Law Project is subdivided into the core sectors within which we operate, namely: housing; employment; consumer rights and prisoner rights.
Applying the directions of the implementation committee are the directors of the various sectors. All participants, including directors and implementation committee, are responsible for meeting with potential clients and giving advice. Each sector within the project is made up of a number of students ranging from those in their first year (LLB) to those in their diploma. The responsibilities of students working within each sector include:
- Legal research
- Initial client consultations
- Leading training programmes
- Writing articles on the law
- Supporting the representation group with cases proceeding to court
Students within the representation group are responsible for advancing cases that the clinic believes will require court resolution. The Aberdeen Law Project is committed to meritocratic advancement, and so those within the representation group are students that we have deemed to be capable of undertaking the work required to argue a case in court.
No advice will be given at a first consultation. Students will research the law prior to administering advice. All advice given to clients is overseen and approved by practitioners acting in a pro bono capacity.
CASUS OMISSUS BOARD BIOGRAPHIES
Professor Margaret Ross
Professor Margaret Ross is Head of the School of Law at The University of Aberdeen. Having graduated LLB (Hons) from Aberdeen in 1979, Professor Ross qualified as a solicitor in 1981 and practiced law for 11 years before returning to the School of Law as an academic. Her research interests are particularly focused on evidence, procedures and mediation. Since 1992 Professor Ross has published widely in these areas and is the author of the revised edition of the leading text on the law of evidence in Scotland.
She is a member of both the University Senate and the University Court as well as an independent reporter for the court in adoption applications, chair of Family Mediation Grampian, a former Vice Chair of the Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland, and a past chair of Grampian Research Ethics Committee.
Lord Woolman was appointed as a Senator of the College of Justice in March 2008. He is a graduate of Aberdeen University. Between 1978 and 1987 he was a lecturer at Edinburgh University, where for three years he was the Associate Dean of the Law School. In 1987 Lord Woolman was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates. He was standing Junior Counsel for the Inland Revenue, the Ministry of Defence (Procurement) and the Office of Fair Trading. He took silk in 1998.
From 1999 to 2002 Lord Woolman served as an Advocate Depute. Between 2004 and 2008 he was Keeper of the Advocates Library. Lord Woolman was formerly Chairman of the Scottish Council of Law Reporting, the Bar Mediation Group and the Free Legal Services Unit. He is the author of the leading student textbook on the Scots law of contract, and also Deputy Chairman of the Boundary Commission for Scotland.
Lady Dorrian has been a Senator of the College of Justice since 2005. She graduated from the University of Aberdeen (LLB). Lady Dorrian called at the Faculty of Advocates in 1981 where she served as Standing Junior Counsel to the Health and Safety Executive and Commission between 1987 and 1994, as an Advocate Depute between 1988 and 1991, and Standing Junior to the Department of Energy between 1991 and 1994. Lady Dorrian was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1994.
Professor Ian Diamond
Professor Ian Diamond was appointed Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen on 1 April 2010. He was previously Chief Executive of the Economic and Social Research Council.
Professor Diamond graduated in 1975 with a BSc (Econ) Honours from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) followed in 1976 with an MSc Statistics also from the LSE. He then received his PhD in Statistics from the University of St Andrews in 1981. He began his academic career at Heriot Watt University in 1979 before joining the University of Southampton in 1980 where he was a lecturer, senior lecturer and Professor before being appointed Dean of Social Sciences in 1997 and then Deputy Vice-Chancellor in 2001.
Professor Diamond was elected to the UK Academy of Social Sciences in 1999, is a Fellow of the British Academy (2005), a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (2009) and holds honorary degrees from the universities of Cardiff and Glasgow.
Sheriff Cowan completed her LLB (Hons) at the University of Edinburgh and practiced as a Solicitor prior to calling at the Bar in 1987. She was appointed Sheriff of Grampian Highland and Islands at Aberdeen in 1997 and became Senior Sheriff in 2008.
Professor Roderick Paisley
Professor Roderick Paisley holds the chair of Commercial Property Law at the University of Aberdeen. After graduating from the University of Aberdeen in both LLB Honours and Diploma in Legal Practice, Professor Paisley spent a period of time working as a solicitor in private practice before joining the Law School as a Lecturer. Professor Paisley specialises in the law of Property, Conveyancing, Succession and Trusts. He has written extensively on these matters and is recognised throughout Scotland as an expert on the law of Conveyancing generally, and the law of servitudes particularly.
Gary Allan QC
Gary Allan graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 1980. After serving his apprenticeship and then practising as a solicitor in Glasgow for 11 years, he was admitted to the Faculty of Advocates and called at the Scottish Bar in 1994, and was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2007. Appearing principally, but not exclusively, in criminal matters, and having served as a solicitor in private practice, as defence counsel and latterly as a Senior Advocate Depute in the Crown Office, Gary Allan has a very wide general professional experience, but particular experience in the investigation, preparation, prosecution and defence of the most serious criminal charges, both at first instance and on appeal. He also has very substantial experience and expertise relating to health and safety offences (in which specialist field he is the assigned Crown Counsel), environmental offences, and a wide range of regulatory offences and financial and business crimes. Having been the devil master to more than thirty practising advocates, Gary Allan is enthusiastic in the encouragement and practical training of aspiring lawyers and in ensuring the future high standards of the legal profession; he does so not only in his capacity as a board member of Casus, but also as a regular speaker, lecturer and trainer at various seminars, courses and public events for lawyers and others with related interests.
Roger Connon is a Partner with Pinsent Masons. Working within the corporate team, Mr Connon deals primarily with Oil and Gas transactions and is the Head of Pinsent Masons' Aberdeen office. He is listed in the 2010 edition of Legal 500 as being an expert in his field as a Commercial and Corporate lawyer.
Ryan Whelan is the Founder of The Aberdeen Law Project. He graduated LLB (First Class Honours) from the University of Aberdeen in 2009 and in so doing was awarded the Cruickshank Prize as top honours student. Ryan is a trainee solicitor with an international law firm. Ryan was awarded the Edmond Prize in Law (2008), and in 2010 he was the first Law student to receive the prestigious Quincentenerian Award.
In his senior honours year Ryan served as President of the Law Society, during which he established, amongst other things, an annual lecture series. These lectures were extremely well received and attracted a number of high calibre speakers, including the Solicitor-General, Frank Mulholland QC.
Dr David Parratt
A member of the Faculty of Advocates, David Parratt graduated from the University of Aberdeen in both the LLB Honours and Diploma in Legal Practice. Since calling at the Bar in 1999 Dr Parratt has focused primarily on civil work, specialising increasingly in Construction, Contract and General Commercial Law, and from an early period, Trusts, Heritable Property and Agricultural law. As well as being a member of Terra Firma Chambers in Scotland, Dr Parratt is a member of Crown Office Chambers in London. Although he is still based in Edinburgh, the nature of his practice takes him frequently to London, the Gulf and Middle and the Far East.
Dr Parratt is also active in dispute resolution holding the qualification "Chartered Arbitrator" as well as being a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. He is accredited as a CEDR Mediator. When he can find the time he also enjoys keeping his hand in academic pursuits. He has a number of publications and his co-authored Scottish Arbitration Handbook is shortly to be published. He tutored in Private Law at the University of Edinburgh from 1996-1998. He is an Honorary Lecturer in Dispute Resolution at the Centre for Energy, Petroleum, Mineral Law and Policy at the University of Dundee, an Honorary Research Fellow in International Arbitration in the School of Law, University of Dundee and Visiting Senior Lecturer in Dispute Resolution, International Arbitration and Construction law in the British University in Dubai.
Greg Gordon is a graduate of the University of Aberdeen, LLB (Hons), Dip. LP, and the University of Cambridge (LLM). Prior to becoming an academic, Mr Gordon practiced law as a dual-qualified commercial litigator in Aberdeen and London. As a Lecturer in law at the University of Aberdeen, and Co-Director of the LLM in Oil and Gas Law, Mr Gordon’s primary research interests are within the law of Delict and Oil and Gas. He is the author of numerous articles on both subjects.
A teaching fellow at the University of Aberdeen, Douglas Bain has a broad knowledge of Housing law having worked for many years with Shelter and the Aberdeen Housing Aid Centre, where he worked for a time as manager. It was within these positions that Douglas amassed invaluable experience advising and representing members of the public in Housing law disputes. In 2003, Douglas volunteered with Aberdeen Cyrenians, a position he stayed in until 2006. Having done vast research and writing on Housing law issues, Douglas is currently studying for a Phd in Land law and has been employed since 2003 on a sessional basis to audit advice agencies under the Scottish National Standards for Information and Advice.