20th Anniversary: An Interview with Michael Ballantyne

When were you in the clinic?


What was your role there?

I was a student advisor, including two paid summer student posts, an admin assistant helping our great Diane, and a research intern, supervised by the director of the clinical LLB, Dr Rhonda Wheate.

What are you up to now?

After enjoying and running employment cases at the clinic, (spoiler) I’m an employment solicitor. I work for a boutique UK firm and specialise in whistleblowing and discrimination claims. I’m also a tutor on the undergraduate LLB at the University of Edinburgh.

Why do you think the clinic is important?

The clinic is an invaluable service in Glasgow, aiding social mobility, bridging student learning and importantly improving access to justice. After 20 years, and with the recent cost of living, the demand for affordable legal services has only went up, and the clinic supplies just that.

What was your favorite memory of the clinic?

Whilst the clinic is best known amongst alumni for collegiality and practicability, for me I would have to say it’s the supervision – it’s top tier. Upon reflection, the skills I developed (but didn’t even think about when I was in the clinic) have stuck with me. For example, a neat chronology within an ET1 paper apart, brevity within my legal analysis, and time management – I still don’t like the 3-month time limit in employment claims! Outside the clinic rooms I enjoyed taking part in the Strathclyde/Miami clinics, ceilidh dancing and disseminating my research project focused on access to justice.

What was your most nerve wracking moment?

Picture it, we’re studying ethics and justice, unpacking the deep-rooted issues within the profession and learning about overzealous advocacy when I receive a pre-PH call from a Respondent solicitor and a call from my client on the same day. I’m met with overly masculine, classist, harsh words from the solicitor and details of trauma from my client. My rose-coloured glasses came off, and I quickly realised there was nothing I could meaningfully add to this profession, and I wanted out. It sounds daft now, but looking back as a fresh student, I really couldn’t leave the work at the door, and as a solicitor, I really try to not take the work home with me.

Full credit must go to Rhonda for pulling me out of that spiral. She was validating, reassuring and inspiring – so much so I later became a tutor.

Any birthday message for the clinic?

How is it 20 years??? It certainly isn’t lost on this working-class kid how inspiring the clinic team are. Throughout my time at the clinic I experienced opportunities that simply wouldn’t have been available to me, so for any incoming students with similar concerns – please sign up for the clinic! I can’t wait to see everyone at the 20th anniversary 😊.

We are hosting an event on campus to celebrate our 20th Anniversary on the 21st September 2023. This will provide an opportunity for past and present advisors and friends of the clinic to come together and discuss the issues facing access to justice in our main practice areas: employment, regulation of social service workers and immigration. You can sign-up via the link below: