Scottish firm sets up legal lobbying unit

Top-four Scottish firm Shepherd & Wedderburn has launched the first legal lobbying unit in Scotland with its three-lawyer division called Saltire Parliamentary Consultants.

According to executive director David Nash and an associate with the firm, it will operate as a separate business division within the firm 'to provide a range of services which are similar to those provided by Parliamentary agents in London'.

With devolution coming to Scotland, the firm had planned the move over the last few months, and had looked at services provided in England and Washington, where lobbying is generally done by lawyers.

Nash explained: 'Legal lobbying is already an integral part of the process in Westminster, Brussels and other legislative centres. The role of legal lobbying is obviously set to grow in response to the new levels of accessibility that the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Executive are expected to bring. It will enable businesses and other organisations to have an effective voice in those bodies.'

The division's three lawyers come from the firm's corporate department, with Nash bringing his experience as a former Scottish Office government legal adviser, and fellow associate Gordon Downie and assistant Duncan Ostler covering the regulatory side.

It has already started working with a number of businesses, including existing client Scottish Power, which has retained Saltire to handle aspects of the Scotland Bill and the devolution process.