Scottish Legal Awards: who will be the new rising star?

ONE of the most popular prizes throughout the history of the Scottish Legal Awards has been the Rising Star of the Year.

The Scottish Legal Awards takes place on Thursday, 24 March, at the Edinburgh Assembly Rooms. Picture: Rob McDougall

This year’s contenders have a hard act to follow, with a winners’ list showing the judges have identified some tremendous talent in the past.

In 2003, the Rising Star was presented to a litigator at Brodies for her work in the public sector; 12 years later, Christine O’Neill is the chair of the firm and a passionate advocate of promoting young talent.

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O’Neill recalls her victory: “I remember being very surprised to have won and very touched to have the support of my colleagues who nominated me. I have kept the trophy on my windowsill ever since. I had some nice feedback from clients but certainly no celebrity treatment back at the office.”

Bruce Caldow of Harper Macleod LLP was Rising Star in 2006. At the time, he was a solicitor in the firm’s employment practice – now he is a partner and head of the firm’s Employment Department and led his colleagues to the Employment Team of the Year title in 2012.

Caldow also leads the firm’s sports law practice, advising sportspeople, clubs and governing bodies on regulatory, disciplinary and governance matters. He was in high-profile action at the Rugby World Cup in his role as the Scottish national team lawyer, appearing before the Appeal Committee to free Ross Ford and Jonny Gray from suspension, allowing them to play in the quarter final.

Reflecting on his Rising Star award, he said: “I was very pleased. We had won a number of awards around that time and it was good to contribute another to the HM trophy cabinet – but my overwhelming memory of the night is that the music that accompanied my walk to the stage was extremely loud.

“The award was received very well internally and by clients. To anyone considering entering, I’d simply say ‘You’ve got to be in it to win it’ and only good can come from being recognised by an independent panel as worthy of the shortlist, far less winning it. Celebrate being shortlisted and if you win, that’s a bonus.”   

The 14th annual Scott + Co Scottish Legal Awards takes place on Thursday, 24 March, 2016 at the Edinburgh Assembly Rooms. Entrants have until 26 November to make submissions. For guidance on the entry process, contact [email protected] or call 0131 337 6322. For criteria and guidelines visit

The categories are: Firm of the Year sponsored by Bank of Scotland; Lifetime Achievement Award sponsored by The Scotsman; Chairman/Managing Partner of the Year; Lawyer of the Year sponsored by The Law Society of Scotland; Legal Aid Lawyer of the Year; Excellence in Client Care; Community Contribution Award sponsored by Frasia Wright Associates; Employment Team of the Year sponsored by Badenoch & Clark; Family Law Team of the Year sponsored by Wolffe; Litigation Team of the Year; Paralegal of the Year; Pro Bono Award sponsored by Barr Printers; Residential Property Team of the Year sponsored by NAEA; Rising Star of the Year; Support Team of the Year; Public Sector Law Team; In-House Legal Team of the year; Employer of the Year.