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Frank Maguire, Senior PartnerAs far back as Frank Maguire can remember his calling has been to help those less fortunate than himself.

The son of a policeman was one of seven children growing up in Castlemilk, Glasgow in the early 1960s and he has never forgotten the roots which gave him the grounding for his entire career path.

After years toying with the idea of joining the priesthood, Maguire decided in his early twenties it wasn't for him and went on to study law.

Now a senior partner in Thompsons Maguire is recognised as one of Scotland's leading personal injury lawyers.

He is also a tireless campaigners for legislative change in personal injury and industrial accident law.

His most recent success came from his campaigning to reform the laws determining damages paid out to families suing for wrongful death, which comes into law in Scotland next month.

For the most part, these campaigns are conducted on a pro bono basis.

For Maguire, achieving positive changes to the law to help others is all worth the effort.

He said: "We don't stop working at the end of the claim.

"If there is something wrong with the system which we see as being unfair or in need of change, then we will do our damnedest to get that changed”.

Maguire has spent his entire legal career with Thompsons and has not regretted it.

He said: "Landing a traineeship with Thompsons was perfect for me. That was driven from where I came from.

"I really had an axe to grind, so I didn't want to work for insurance companies or the monied side. I wanted to act for people from my own background, the workers.

"So it was a bit of a mission for me acting for the underdog, and specifically within that I just hated the fact working people's lives were being ruined by wilful neglect.

"They needed to have a voice representing their interests and I have spend my whole career in law doing just that."

Maguire cut his teeth assisting in claims relating to North Sea helicopter crashes.  But it was the Piper Alpha disaster which ratcheted his career up to another level.

He said: "I was involved on the compensation side of things following the Piper Alpha disaster, acting on behalf of the trade unions.

"The partner who assisted in these claims went on to work on the Piper Alpha inquiry.  It led to a new safety regime as a result of the recommendations made in that inquiry”.

For Maguire money has never been a primary driver, and most of the claimants he has met in a 25-year career also see compensation as a secondary concern.

He said: "We are also advocates in prevention of accidents and that comes from our trade union background.  A lady who had lost her husband in an industrial accident came to us from another firm who she said were only interested in the financial claim.

"I asked her what she really wanted and she said it wasn't money. It was answers to what went wrong and how it could be prevented from happening again.

"We pressed for an inquiry and prosecution on her behalf, which brought in changes to working practices.

But were it not for the fact that woman was more interested in answers than money, then these changes which benefit everyone might never have happened.

"So it annoys me when I hear a legal challenge saying the claimants are only in it for the money.  It is a basic human reaction to want to find out how a loved one died or was gravely injured."  The causes Maguire has put his weight behind include areas such as deafness from industrial injury and asbestosis and emphysema.

He has also spent years working on behalf of NHS patients who contracted Hepatitis C and HIV from infected blood transfusions and products supplied by the NHS.

Alongside that he has been influential in pushing through legislative reform which changed UK compensation culture, first with the Damages (Scotland) Act 1993 and then the Social Security (Recovery of Benefits) Act 1997.  He said: "We campaigned to change the system where state benefits were set against compensation, which in many cases ended up reducing the compensation to nil.

"That was something we thought was grossly unfair, and we took that fight to Westminster and won.

"We argued it should be the insurer who paid the compensation plus the benefits back”.

Another issue which Maguire has been vocal in his condemnation of is corporate manslaughter legislation.  He said "There are so many hurdles to get over to bring a Corporate Manslaughter case to court.

"If I were acting for the defence I would be rubbing my hands because there is no way the Crown will overcome all of those hurdles.

"Since the legislation came into effect there has not been a single attempt to bring a prosecution.

"The civil case has to be heard after the prosecution, which means of course civil proceedings can be delayed for years”.  Alongside those difficulties Maguire admits the unions have also been weakened in recent years.

"Unions have to get young people on board to show the benefits of membership."  WH Thompson, who founded Thompsons solicitors in the 1920s, had a history of supporting unions which survives in the firm to this day.

Maguire said: "He was an unusual lawyer because he didn't trust other lawyers.  He felt they were too middle class to represent workers interests.

"He started out in rent strike cases and representing the early formations of the trade unions.

"As the firm grew, Thompson picked his lawyers very carefully because he wanted his lawyers to embrace his ethos. That is something we still do at Thompsons today." 

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