09 May 2023

Employment Law Project – Reflections One Year On

We recently published LSA’s Employment Law Project Year in Numbers – Employment Law Project Year in Numbers – Legal Services Agency (lsa.org.uk). There are many stories behind the numbers and we have asked our employment law solicitor, Stuart Swan, to share his career story so far and reflections on the Employment Law Project.

My first job was pushing trolleys at Safeway in Airdrie. I worked there for six years – during school and throughout university. One of my many roles at Safeway was a customer service assistant in the cigarette kiosk. Part of that role involved serving customers playing the National Lottery. Little did I know that I would be working for a project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund 25 years later!

I was the first in my family to get a degree from University in 1999. I undertook the Diploma in Legal Practice in 2000. I completed a traineeship from 2001 to 2003. From 2005 onwards I have mainly advised on employment law matters.

I consider myself to be a lucky person. All my employers have treated me well. Throughout my career I have always had wonderful colleagues and I would like to give a special mention to David McRae at Just Employment Law. David and the rest of the team at Just Employment Law provided incredible support when I was caring for my mum over a long period of time before she passed away. My dad passed away the following year.

I took a career break for around 6 months. In February 2022 a former colleague alerted me to the solicitor vacancy at LSA. The role appealed to me as it would involve advising and supporting individuals. I am acutely aware that everyone does not have the same positive experience at work that I have had. I have an innate sense of justice and my natural instinct is to help those who need it.

I applied for the solicitor role at LSA and was fortunate to get it. I joined at the start of the project on 1st April 2022. In conjunction with colleagues and taking account views from stakeholders, I have been able to design and deliver the project within the framework of the funding from the National Lottery Community Fund.

The main objective of the project is protecting employment rights to improve financial circumstances. There are three main ways that we are delivering the main objective: providing legal advice to individuals; supporting fellow grassroots advice agencies; and bringing together stakeholder expertise to act strategically in challenging inequality and injustice in the workplace.

Legal advice and support is available throughout Scotland. Individuals that LSA aims to support include young people; people in low paid jobs; people being unlawfully discriminated against; and families at higher risk of discrimination, loss of or challenging employment circumstances resulting in financial hardship.

I have delivered and attended internal and external training. Training is something that I have always enjoyed doing and the feedback received has been very positive.

The National Lottery Community Fund allows LSA to employ one solicitor (me) and one FTE administrator. All of my colleagues at LSA are supportive, tireless and talented. I have been supported by student volunteers. Their contribution has been invaluable and in return they have been able to get experience in law and help many individuals who are experiencing multiple forms of disadvantage.

The Employment Law Project has had an exceptional first year and I am delighted to have helped many individuals achieve positive outcomes, often where they have faced difficult circumstances.

Looking forward, I am sure that I will remain at LSA for the foreseeable future. The work that I am doing is important, rewarding and personally fulfilling. I am privileged to work with great people who are doing the right thing in the right way every single day.