Pro Bono Activities

Our pro bono work supports a range of activities and institutions. From providing legal advice to the third sector, individuals sitting on a Board, or getting involved in community causes and events, our people provide a helping hand to those people and places that need it.

Our staff are involved with 43 different organisations, from CBI Scotland, Age Scotland and ENABLE to the WS Society, Flexibility Works, Edinburgh Universities, Foundation for Women in Law and the Law Society of Scotland. These roles vary from unpaid board appointments and trustee management to committee roles that support the progression of the law and society in Scotland.

We also support the Citizens’ Advice Bureau with solicitor advisors and provide meeting facilities to charity clients. We have partnered with the Scottish Training Federation and Equate Scotland to offer a free 20-minute employment advice consultation service to their member organisations. This service ensures that small to medium size businesses in Scotland have the support they need on hand. The service also aims to help those businesses avoid unlawful discrimination and to promote equality and diversity in their fields.

The content below provides a snapshot of how our people support the communities they live, work and thrive in.

 

Pro bono for community matters

Ken Carruthers - Won a planning appeal for the erection of a beach hut on Ballevuilin Beach, Isle of Tiree, as a surf school for local children and holiday makers, acting on a pro bono basis. Ken is also a member of and pro bono legal adviser to Largo Bay Sailing Club.

Robin Morton - Provides pro-bono advice to the trustees of The Riada Trust, a charitable grant-making trust. The trusts purpose is the prevention or relief of poverty and the advancement of education, health, the arts, heritage, culture, science and public participation in sport by those in need. Robin is also group co-ordinator for the charity Contact the Elderly which provides a monthly opportunity for the elderly and isolated in our communities to have a day out with a companion. Activities include outings on Union Canal, trips to concert halls and art galleries as well as a Christmas party hosted by local senior schoolchildren.

Gail Watt - is a steering group member of the National Museum of Scotland's "Energised" campaign for primary and secondary school children.

Iain Young - is a non-executive director for Scottish Wheelchair Rugby League. Iain provides some pro-bono advice regarding registration as a charity. Iain has also given pro-bono advice to Kirkcaldy Rugby Football Club regarding their establishment as a charity, and in representing players in connection with disciplinary hearings. Iain Young is the discipline officer of the Edinburgh Rugby Referees Society.

Adrian Bell - has provided pro-bono advice in relation to the formation of Benchmark at Grinhams Wood CIO, a community woodland initiative in North Northumberland, and Hutton & Paxton Development Trust, a community body formed to promote the interests of Hutton & Paxton Parish in the Scottish Borders. Adrian has also provided pro bono advice to Inspiring Scotland.

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Community events

For the last 20 years, Fergus McDiarmid has been involved as a committee/team member for Epilepsy Scotland`s annual charitable event 'The Wags Dinner/Patter Merchants Dinner'. The funds raised go towards the running costs of the telephone helpline for Epilepsy sufferers throughout Scotland.

Our public sector team helped to provide funding to a group of Scottish schoolgirls who'd been chosen to attend a special debate on girls' rights in the House of Lords in November 2018. This excellent initiative from Plan International UK brought together 200 school girls from across the UK, Ghana and Rwanda The debate centred around four barriers that girls face globally - stereotyping which girls face at school; how positions of power tend to be held by men; the street harassment they have to put up with and the fact that girls don't receive enough information about sexual health matters and healthy relationships. The debate was chaired by Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall and Baroness Pitkeathley.

Fiona Sasan was previously the Chair of the Woman of Influence Board which organises the Woman of Influence Awards and charity lunch in support of Children 1st. Fiona continues to support the fundraising by the Woman of Influence Board and she supports a number of charitable events every year.

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Fair working practices

Morton Fraser is proud to have signed up to the Scottish Government's Business Pledge, an initiative that requires signatories to uphold the principles of fairness, equality, opportunity and innovation in the workplace.

Through this pledge, we have made a commitment to continue implementing fair and progressive practices in the nine focus areas outlined which includes putting innovation at the heart of our business, promoting gender balance, investing in young people, and supporting workforce engagement.

In addition to our business strategy of being open and clear on advice and cost, this commitment further demonstrates that we consider it a priority to lead by example through embracing modern and innovative business practices in the legal sector and investing in the long-term development of our staff.

Pro bono advice for charities 

Stuart McWilliams, David Hossack and Ellen Crofts - Provide support to Citizen's advice bureau on immigration, employment and family law issues. Support ranges from specialist advice to assisting with queries.

Sue Hunter - Does a monthly drop-in session with the Maggie's Centre in Edinburgh and gives free legal advice there.

Suzanne Hardie - Provides legal advice under a reciprocal sponsorship arrangement to the Fruitmarket Gallery.

John Lunn - Is a Trustee of and honorary legal counsel for the South East Scotland Regional Executive Committee of the Scout Association. John has been involved with the Scouts since 2010, providing legal advice across property, contract, data protection, employment and health and safety matters on a pro-bono basis.

Robin Morton's team - Administer the Nancy Ovens Trust on a pro-bono basis.

Austin Flynn's team - Provide advice, free of charge, as part of a non-cash sponsorship arrangement with Scottish Institute for Enterprise ('SIE') which benefits Scotland's most innovative and entrepreneurial students. SIE’s Business and Innovation team works closely with students and new graduates in Scotland’s universities and colleges that are committed to developing strong and sustainable businesses. Identifying when entrepreneurs need professional advice, and supporting them through this, is a key focus and we provide expertise in helping high-growth entrepreneurial start-ups to ensure that Scotland's entrepreneurs set off on the right business footing. Austin also provided bespoke guidance and training, through 1-2-1 clinics and workshops, for the 2018 cohort of the Strathclyde Entrepreneurial Network ('SEN') rising stars programme. This cohort, which was inducted in September 2018, runs for a period of six months and included five SEN-supported companies. The team provides support to University of Edinburgh entrepreneurs through LAUNCH ed.

Sarah Gilzean - Provides free initial advice to employer members of Equate Scotland and Scottish Training Federation. Equate Scotland is a Scottish Governments funded organisation that aims to improve the participation of women in the STEM industries. STF is the body which represents Scotland's training organisations and Sarah's work with them focuses on improving diversity amongst those undertaking apprenticeships in Scotland.

Amy Entwistle - Negotiated a new lease for office space at the Barracks in Stirling for Dyslexia Scotland. The Association of Women in Property (WiP) welcomes members from across the property and construction industry. Five Morton Fraser employees, including Emma Carmichael-Stewart are members of Women in Property. Committee members are responsible for organising all events and initiatives within the Branch and the day to day administration of the Branch and report quarterly to a national oversight Board.

Our Agricultural and Rural Property team - Provides legal services to our charity client, Scottish Wildlife Trust, at substantially discounted rates

Iain Meiklejohn - Gives pro bono legal advice to The INSP Foundation - the umbrella organisation for the worldwide network of street newspapers (in Scotland The Big Issue).

Alan Meek - Sits on audit and risk committee and the nominations and remunerations committee of ENABLE Scotland. One of Scotland's leading charities, working for an equal society for every person who has a learning disability, Alan's work on the committees is part of the corporate governance of the charity. As ENABLE is a large organisation, with many different services and workstreams, corporate governance is hugely important to the organisation

Keith Oliver - Is Chief Crook of Almost Modern Order of Purchasers; a small local charity that raises funds for other Local Charities.

Supporting our sector 

Fiona Sasan - Is a committee member of the Family Law Arbitration Group Scotland which is a non-profit making organisation which provides education and training to the profession and raises the profile of arbitration as a form of alternative dispute resolution in family law cases.

Ruth McCallister - Is working with a number of colleagues and contacts at the University of Edinburgh on The Edinburgh Foundation for Women in Law. The Foundation brings together senior women alumni at the Law School to share experience and best practice from the legal profession on creating the conditions for women to succeed within this field.

David Hossack - Assists with the Edinburgh and Glasgow Sheriff Court Mediation Project by acting as mediator in cases refereed by court and providing support for newly trained mediators.

Gail Watt - Is vice convenor of the Law Society of Scotland's Land Reform Sub-committee, a member of the Law Society of Scotland's Energy Law Committee; and chairwoman and co-founder of Women in Renewable Energy Scotland (WiRES). Gail is also a member of the newly formed Scottish Government Simplification Task Force established to advise on measures aimed at simplifying the farm and rural support system and processes.

Stuart McWilliams - Is the convenor of the Law Society of Scotland's Immigration and Asylum Law Sub-committee.

Emma Carmichael-Stewart - Currently sits on the committee for, and was previously chairman of, the central Scotland branch of the Association of Women in Property.

John Lunn - Is a member of the Scottish Law Commission's working group looking at reforming the law relating to heritable securities in Scotland. The group is chaired by the SLC and comprises representatives from UK Finance, a number of law firms, Counsel, and a number of university academics including Emeritus Professor George Gretton. The aim is to publish a draft Bill by 2020, following the publication of two discussion papers during 2019.