In the new intake for 2023 we had 1 devil join us:- Deirdre Flanigan.

Gareth Reid joined us from Arnot Manderson in July 2023.  We are looking forward to working with Gareth and are delighted to have him join us.

Charles Ferguson joined us from Black Chambers in January 2023.  Charles is looking to further develop his West of Scotland practice.  We are delighted to have him join us.

In the new intake for 2022 we had three devils join us:- James McCrone, Lynsey Morgan and Alistair Sloan.

In the new intake for 2021 we had three devils join us:- Patricia Baillie, Callum Hiller and Rosalyn McTaggart.

Kevin Henry joined us from Compass Chambers in July 2020.  We are delighted to have Kevin on board and we are sure that this will have been a great move for him.

In the new intake for 2020 we had three devils join us:- Mark Lutton, Valentina Mori and Laura-Anne Radcliffe.

Colin Mackenzie retired from Faculty in April 2020. We wish Colin all the best for the future.

Laura Reilly retired from Faculty in December 2019.  We hope that Laura enjoys this new chapter in her life.

Vincent Lunny resigned from Faculty in January 2019 in order to start a new legal career in New Zealand.  We wish Vincent all the best for the future.

Frances Connor joined us from Black Chambers in January 2019.  Frances joins us with a busy Criminal and Children’s referral practice.  We are delighted to have Frances on board.

Richard Aird retired from Faculty in October 2018.  We wish Richard all the best for the future.

Joe Barr re-joined the stable at the end of May 2017 after an extended absence following his cardiac arrest in 2012.  We are delighted to welcome Joe back in the fold and are sure that he will pick up where he left off with his successful criminal practice.

Neil Murray QC joined us from Black Chambers in December 2016.  Neil is looking to further develop his practice in Glasgow and throughout the country.  We are sure his move will help him to do this.  We are delighted to have him join us.

Vincent Lunny joined us from Westwater Advocates in November 2016.  Vincent is based in Glasgow and felt it may be more beneficial to be in a Criminal Stable based in the West.  We look forward to working with Vincent and developing his practice in the West.

Laura Reilly joined us from Black Chambers in February 2016.  Laura is highly skilled in both Criminal and Family Law.  We are sure this was a great move for Laura and look forward to working with her.

Niall McCluskey joined us in September 2015, coming to us from the Hastie Stable.  Niall has extensive experience in various aspects of the Law.  We are sure that this move will help him further develop his practice both in the West of Scotland and throughout the Country.

In the new intake for 2015 we had one devil join us:- Neil Shand.

In the new intake for 2014 we had two devils (pupils) join us:- Julian Aitken and Donna Armstrong.

Richard Aird joined us from the Murray Stable on the 8th October 2013. We believe Richard’s move will be advantageous in developing his practice here in the west as well as throughout the country in general. We are very happy to have him on board with us and are looking forward to working with him in order to achieve those aims.

James MacDonald came to us from Arnot Manderson Advocates on the 4th October 2013. James has a wealth of experience in both criminal and civil matters and we are delighted to have him on board.

Rosemary Guinnane joined us from the Black Chambers on 6th September 2013. Rosemary has a wealth of experience in both Criminal and Civil Law and we are delighted to have her on board.

Adam Ardrey joined us from the Murray Stable on 28th August 2013. We are looking forward to working with Adam and are sure that this will be a good move for him.

In the new intake for 2013 we had four devils (pupils) join us:- Greg Farrell, Wendy Hay, John McElroy and Safeena Rashid.

Sarah Livingstone came to us on 16th April 2013 having been with the Black Chambers since not long after she called to Bar in 1999. Sarah is based in Glasgow and her practice is mainly concentrated here in the City and in the West of Scotland. She decided that because of this she might gain more benefit from joining us here in Glasgow, which we are sure she will. We look forward to working closely with Sarah and assisting her in developing and progressing her practice here in Glasgow.

Derek Ogg QC joined us on 23rd November 2012 having been with the Black Chambers in Edinburgh for a number of years. Derek is recognised as one of the most senior criminal practitioners in the Country today. We are delighted to have him on board.

Dale Hughes joined us on 21st November 2012 from the Edinburgh based Connarty Stable. Dale practices mainly in Criminal Law and as such is of the view that he might better his practice with us here in Glasgow. We are sure that will prove to be the case and are very happy to him on board.

Shirley McKenna came to us on 19th November 2012. Shirley had been a member of the Connarty Stable in Edinburgh since 2005. Shirley is another of our members who lives in the city of Glasgow and has come to the conclusion that MacKinnon would be the natural home for her. We are very happy that she decided to join us and are sure that it will be a good move for her.

Edward Targowski QC came to us from the Edinburgh based Black Stable on 6th November 2012. He has decided that because we are active in Glasgow, our Stable will be a natural home for him. We are sure that this will be the case and look forward to helping him achieve his aim in further developing his practice throughout the Country. We are very happy to have him join our group of Advocates.

Lynsey Rodger joined the stable on 26th October 2012 having been a member of the Arnot Manderson stable in Edinburgh for a number of years. She has decided that Glasgow might offer her a better opportunity and is a natural base for her considering she now lives in the city. We are delighted to have her on board.

Bill Adam joined us from Connarty Advocates on 23rd April 2012. We are delighted to have him on board and we are sure that he will be able to develop his practice further here in the West.

We were delighted Louise Arrol joined us 19th December 2011. Louise came to us from the Black Chambers and has settled in very well considering Glasgow is her natural base with most of her instructing agents being situated here.

Neil Taylor moved on at the end of 2011. He has gone non-practising and become more involved in the Medical legal side of the profession working as a Consultant. We wish him well in all his future endeavours.

Optimum Advocates are delighted to announce that four members of our stable have been appointed to the rank and dignity of King’s Counsel this year; Louise Arrol, Lorraine Glancy, John McElroy and Paul Nelson.

Louise, Lorraine, John and Paul were among the 16 new silks that were appointed this year.

Louise currently has an extremely busy criminal law practice and is extremely well versed in the preparation of cases with complex evidence such as cell site analysis, firearms discharge residue, surveillance, use of trackers and DNA.  Louise has also built up an extensive practice defending sexual crimes. It is without doubt that she is one of the most instructed counsel in this area, having defended numerous rape trials. She regularly prepares and argues applications under section 275 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) and has already conducted examination of many witnesses giving evidence on commission. In particular, she has specialism dealing with complicated psychiatric, psychological and medical evidence in sexual abuse cases. She has particular specialism dealing with accused persons who have psychological and psychiatric conditions.

Lorraine is currently a full time Advocate Depute.  Prior to joining Crown Office earlier this year, Lorraine was instructed in a wide variety of criminal trials, including attempted murder, fraud, computer crime, indecent images and misuse of drugs but with a particular emphasis on cases involving allegations of sexual misconduct, rape and allegations of historical sexual abuse.

John is also currently a full time Advocate Depute.  Prior to joining Crown Office in October 2021, John had substantial experience in all aspects of the practice of criminal law from first interview with accused persons to running cases in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.  He practised as a Solicitor Advocate from 2000 until he called at the Bar in June 2013.

Paul also has an extremely busy criminal practice.  Paul has been instructed, as leading or sole counsel, to defend a wide range of the more serious crimes known to the law of Scotland, these include murder, attempted murder, rape, fraud, serious and organised crime offences, etc.  Paul has a wide knowledge of and interest in forensic medicine and science in general and, in particular, the use of DNA evidence, and the limitations of such evidence.  That knowledge has been applied for the benefit of those for whom he has been instructed in a number of cases that have turned on the successful cross-examination of forensic scientists and doctors.

Practice Manager, Angela Bath said “We are delighted for Louise, Lorraine, John and Paul on their appointment as King’s Counsel.  They have all worked extremely hard to achieve this elevation and it is very well deserved.  We wish them all the best in the next chapter of their legal careers as Senior Counsel.”

This evening the members and staff of Optimum Advocates join the nation in mourning the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. None of us have a memory of anything other than the second Elizabethan era, and as such feel with great sadness, the loss felt by all of Her Majesty’s subjects, by others within the Commonwealth of Nations, and by the World at large. It is doubtful if any head of state, alive or dead, has ever offered such a constant figure of stability to so many, and this she did with persistent grace, dedication and humility. The thoughts of all of us are with her family who seamlessly carry on her legacy.

The seamless succession of the Monarchy is such that we have this evening amended the post-nominals of our Senior members to reflect that they are now His Majesty’s Counsel.

Long Live the King.

Louise Arrol was appointed for a five-year term by the Lord Justice General, after consulting the Scottish Ministers, to the Scottish Sentencing Council as Advocate Member on 28th July 2022.

Niall Raymund McCluskey July 1968 to April 2022

The entire membership of Optimum Advocates was both shocked and saddened to learn, this morning, of the death of one of its members, Niall McCluskey. In his untimely death at the age of 53, we have lost true character, and inestimable colleague.

Niall was admitted to Faculty in 1995, having served in The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service following his graduation from Aberdeen University, and having spent time as a defence solicitor in Edinburgh. Called to The Bar at the age of 27, as a young advocate, Niall readily accepted instruction at both first instance and in the appeal court. This prepared him well for the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law from 1999, a development over which Niall enthused, and effectively gilded his already well-honed reputation. This new dawn also drew Niall into other areas of law to which the Convention was applied, and in particular extradition cases, where he became one of the most experienced Counsel in that field. But the Convention was not simply an area of Law to Niall. It represented his compassion for his fellow man, and genuine sense of humanity. His sense of giving was manifest in all aspects of his life, and he gave of himself unconditionally to those who devilled to him. He also took time to contribute to the effective training of his peers, and ensured his knowledge and that of his fellow lawyers was made available to others.

Today, however, as a stable, we mourn the man beneath the wig. He was a man full of fun, compassion, wit and good humour. He will be remembered as a worthy opponent, and above, all, a loyal and generous friend.

Not for the first time, the Gown Room has lost one of its characters.

But our sense loss is inconsequential to that of a family which has lost a husband, and father. Our thoughts are with his immediate family and loved ones beyond.

May he rest in peace.

Niall’s close friend, university peer and in recent decades, colleague Dale Hughes, Advocate had this to say of Niall:-

I first met Niall at University when, like the other callow youths, we knew so little and partied a bit too much. He was even then a larger-than-life character with a ready enthusiasm and not a little charisma.

Niall could talk -for hours on end! : about Law- he was so articulate and a very gifted and clever thinker, and many colleagues sought his sensible views on court strategy; about books – he was an avid reader on politics  philosophy and other current world topics ; about music – he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of music and loved live gigs. I spent many a happy night at Barrowlands with him among crowds who were mostly our children’s age.

Niall started off his career in Crown Office, was briefly a defence agent and went to the Bar early. He quickly gained a stellar reputation and was one of the busiest and best senior- juniors at the criminal bar. He served as an advocate depute and also was involved in many significant appeal and extradition cases – such was his breadth of talent.

Above all he was a decent and humane man who cared passionately about people; his vocation and justice for all accused to get a fair trial which is the key facet for this tough job we do. He was highly articulate and was equally adept in the appeal court as the trial arena in front of juries. It goes without saying he always did the best possible for clients without compromise.

Always modest of his achievements during his long and distinguished career at the Bar – he could easily have taken Silk – he also found time, in his busy life, for his many friends and interests such as sport, music, literature and current affairs.

Personally, I will miss him terribly as will all his colleagues and friends at the Bar. The tragic loss of another very able, kind and decent man is hard to bear coming in the wake of the recent loss of Stephen. It is a sad reminder of the strains of life and this job we do, and the need to support each other.

My thoughts are with Jacqueline and the children at this most difficult and sad time.

Tony Graham QC, was elected as Chairman of Faculty Services Limited on 9th December 2021.

We are delighted for Tony on his recent appointment and are thankful for all of his hard work as stable director over the last 10 years.

We wish Tony all the best in his new role!

January 28th – CPD Seminar for the Glasgow Bar Association by Mark Moir

March 30th – CPD Seminar on Family Law to CLAO by Rosemary Guinnane

October 29th – CPD Seminar to the Kilmarnock Bar by Patricia Baillie

November 25th – CPD (via Zoom) “Remote Juries: The issues we face” by Donald Findlay QC

We are delighted for our Maryam Labaki who has been appointed as a Part-Time  Sheriff in Dunfermline.  We wish Maryam all the best for the best in her new chapter.

We are delighted that our Mark Moir has been appointed to the rank and dignity of Queens Counsel.

We are thrilled for our Gillian Ross on her appointment as Deputy Director of Training and Education at the Faculty of Advocates.



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