Solicitor of the Year

Brian Inkster receives the Solicitor of the Year award from Adrian McKennaBrian Inkster was presented with the prestigious Solicitor of the Year award at the Law Awards of Scotland on 14 September 2006 by Adrian McKenna of Professional Office Supplies. The gala awards ceremony was hosted by leading Scottish QC Donald Findlay at Glasgow's Crowne Plaza Hotel. The judging process saw more than 2500 clients polled to find out how they rate their legal services providers and 4000 legal professionals canvassed to give their views on their peers.

In announcing the award Donald Findlay QC said: “This was a tough category for the judges due to the number of high quality submissions. But the winner surprised even them, by making a highly successful practice in a very niche area. Mixing good old traditional values with an innovative approach to delivering legal services our winner has been rewarded for making the most of his opportunities and creating a very successful practice.”

The Firm Magazine in recognition of this achievement published an article, on 3 October 2006, entitled 'The Life of Brian' which we re-publish here:-

The Life of Brian

Brian is a Shetlander who commenced his training in Glasgow with Jeffrey Aitken in 1991. During his eight years at Jeffrey Aitken, Brian built up a large base of clients in Shetland, so much so that by 1999 more than 80 per cent of his workload in Glasgow was derived from Shetland.

Identifying a need to enhance the level of service provided to an ever increasing number of Shetland clients led to Brian forming his own law firm, Inksters, on 1 May 1999. Over the past seven years he has grown the practice to one that currently consists of three solicitors and four support staff with one law student during University vacations. The firm also obtained recognition as an Investor in People in 2000.

Brian covers a full range of work, but as Inksters has grown Brian has concentrated more on the conveyancing side of the practice with others within the firm dealing with the Civil Court side.

He acts for a diverse range of clients and also provides civil legal assistance, something which Brian considers to be an important duty to the people of Shetland and which also offers indirect benefits such as referrals for non-legal aid work.

As the majority of Brian’s work is derived from Shetland he has many and varied complex rural conveyancing transactions over the years. This has resulted in Brian developing the necessary skills and knowledge to facilitate the smooth progression of the most complex of conveyancing transactions.

Crofting Law impacts in one-way or another in most (if not all) conveyancing transactions in Shetland. This was something Brian realised at an early stage, with him immersing himself in the Crofting Acts and related textbooks and articles.

Brian joined the Crofting Law Group at its inception and is now committee member. He has also drafted computer software licences and associated contractual documentation for a company that design project control software for the oil industry.

A strong family law practice has been developed within Inksters with the firm now dealing with the majority of such cases in Shetland.

Brian acts for the pursuers in Moncrieff v Jamieson 2005 SLT 225 (currently under appeal to the House of Lords). Professor Roderick Paisley has described this as being “one of the most important cases on servitudes in the last one hundred years.”

Although based in Glasgow that is no disadvantage to carrying on his business in Shetland. Indeed the contrary is possibly the case with Shetland clients perceiving a greater degree of confidentiality, efficiency and prestige when using ‘city’ solicitors.

Modern technology allows distance to be immaterial with most matters being dealt with adequately by phone, fax or e-mail. However, Brian does travel to Shetland regularly to meet with clients. He has invested heavily in IT with a full practice manager suit and a virtual private network enables him to have remote access to the Glasgow office from his laptop whilst in Shetland.

In August 2005 Brian established OfficeLodge to provide a base in which to meet clients and more effectively deal with their business when in Shetland. When Inksters is not using OfficeLodge it is let out to other business travellers to Shetland. The introduction of digital dictation in June 2006 now enables work to be dictated whilst Brian is in Shetland yet typed in Glasgow the same or the following day.

In 2005 Brian was the first (and so far only) estate agent to utilise in Glasgow and Shetland the property information to mobile phones by text service: Keytxt.

Brian negotiated with GSPC in 2005 the use of their call centre facilities for properties being sold in Shetland. An 0845 number diverts to the GSPC call centre out with Inksters’ normal office hours enabling estate agency enquiries to be dealt with until 9pm weekdays and from 10am to 4pm at weekends.

Despite many practitioners becoming more specialised Brian maintains that there is a need for general practitioners and his firm has been built and prospers on this foundation.

The various examples given demonstrate Brian’s skill as a general practitioner and his ability to deliver a range of legal services to his clients without compromise. Brian also continually develops innovative approaches in the provision of services to his clients and as a sole practitioner is able to act quickly to effectively put in place such developments.

Judge’s Comments

“Brian has focused on a niche geographical area and has built a highly successful practice around that. His use of IT and the introduction of OfficeLodge have all added to his business, which looks set to continue to thrive in the future.”