Donald Findlay QC tells students about his life in law


Having dealt with some of the highest profile legal cases in Scotland, Donald Findlay Q.C. has had an interesting life to say the least, one which will inspire generations of criminal defence lawyers – including Legal Studies students from New College Lanarkshire.

Well known for his brilliant legal mind and flamboyant style, Donald recently visited the College’s Motherwell Campus to speak to students, lecturers and invited guests about his 42-year career as an advocate and Queen’s Counsel in Scotland.

Captivating over 80 guests, Donald opened up about what encouraged his interest in the legal system – citing 1950s and 60s TV series, Boyd Q.C. as one source of inspiration.

He then went on to discuss the importance of criminal defence in a democratic society, and how everyone is entitled the right to a defence – an accused is always innocent until proven guilty. He commented: “Law is about looking after people at their most vulnerable – it’s a care job. If you get involved in criminal law you can’t judge your fellow man or the crime. You take it and look to see if the evidence proves that this individual is guilty.”

The last half hour of Donald’s visit was spent taking questions from legal students about his career, his opinions on various aspects of the law and how he overcame obstacles throughout his 42 years in the industry. Speaking directly to the budding legal minds, he said: “You are not growing up in my world, I am growing old in yours. It is an exciting time for you as the opportunities out there are fantastic – it is up to you what you take from it.

“If you want something you go for it, and don’t let anyone get in your way. You don’t need money or fancy accents you just need determination.”

Reflecting on past cases, sharing amusing anecdotes about his career and discussing the moral impact of the job, Donald’s honest depiction of his career and the Scottish legal system inspired students and staff members alike – so much so there was a queue for photos with him at the end!

The event was organised by Law Lecturer Ciaran O’Neill, a former solicitor of over 20 years and colleague of Donald. He said: “I thought the evening was a tremendous success. It was very well attended and Donald spoke about a serious subject but in a highly engaging and though-provoking manner.

“The entire talk was also laced with humour and was designed predominantly for the legal students which hopefully gave them a valuable insight into the professional life of one of the country‘s greatest criminal defence lawyers. 

“I hope that for many it will prove to be an inspirational evening for their future studies.”

New College Lanarkshire offers a range of courses in legal studies. For more information visit:

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