Meet the Hogan Lovells NQ who's standing for Parliament

Fraser Galloway has just qualified at Hogan Lovells, but he’s currently campaigning to be elected as MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South. Lawyer 2B quizzed him about what it’s like…

Tell us a little bit about your background and what made you want to stand for election?
I have always had an interest in debating ideas but I don’t come from a particularly political family and never expected to have the opportunity to stand for Parliament. After finishing the Legal Practice Course, I had six months before starting my training contract with Hogan Lovells so I applied to some Members of Parliament for an internship and was lucky to be offered a job with an MP.

He was the first person to suggest to me that if I was interested in politics then I should stand myself. I went to an assessment day and was selected for the candidates’ list. I was then chosen by the people of Paisley and Renfrewshire South as their candidate.

There are a lot of lawyers in Parliament - why do you think it’s such a common career route?
I suspect that lawyers and politicians both have an unhealthy interest in arguing.

What’s the situation with Hogan Lovells? Have you taken time off or are you balancing your work with campaigning?
Hogan Lovells has been very supportive of my decision. The firm’s sense of flexibility is one of the reasons I joined it initially. When I applied for my vacation scheme, for example, Hogan Lovells allowed me to interview at its Singapore office as I was living there at the time. I am currently balancing work with campaigning but I will take time off nearer the election, so I can focus fully on it.

What does your week entail at the moment?
Hard work! The market has been picking up and my team are pretty busy at the moment, which is good news, so the campaigning has to fit in around that. I respond to emails, organise the campaign and update social media (@FraserGalloway1, if you’re interested) in the evenings. I then campaign from 9am until 8pm on Saturdays and Sundays with street stalls, leafleting and canvassing.

What’s more stressful - closing a deal or campaigning?
Closing a deal is a far more technical task. Campaigning is quite cathartic as it gets you out on the streets and meeting a huge variety of people. It is a great opportunity to talk to people directly and to explain how your policies are relevant to them. Most people are pleasant even if they do not agree with you, and there is nothing more rewarding than changing someone’s perception of you.

You’re standing as a Conservative candidate: it’s fair to say that the current Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is not universally popular with lawyers. What’s your take on his record in office?
The government has a pretty good record on justice. Since 2010, crime has fallen by a fifth. To reduce the £13bn cost of re-offending, the government has doubled the amount of education each week in young offenders’ institutions and every offender released from custody will receive a year’s statutory supervision in the community for the first time in recent history. The government has also funded 86 Sexual Assault Referral Centres and introduced a Victims’ Code to give victims of crime greater opportunity to speak in court.

Legal aid reforms are never going to be popular with lawyers, but the government had a strong democratic mandate to reduce public spending. We previously had one of the world’s most expensive legal aid systems, costing about £39 per capita, when Ireland’s cost about £20 and Canada’s about £10.

Judicial review has also been tightened up to limit the number of challenges to democratic decisions. It puzzles me why some people want to give more power to judges, appointed from our least diverse professions, rather than to democratically elected and accountable representatives.

What can politicians do to make sure English law remains successful as a global export?
One of the reasons that English law remains so widely practised is the strength and openness of the British market and so we must remain the world’s fastest growing developed economy. Another reason is that we are fortunate to live in a country that has a long tradition of the rule of law. As a result, our law has been adopted for global transactions and disputes because of the certainty, integrity and simplicity that it provides businesses.

However, to stay ahead of our competitors, we have to keep innovating with careful reforms to the law and its institutions. As a small example of this, I doubt I’m the only corporate lawyer who thinks hard copy company books have had their day.

If elected, will you miss lawyering?
Yes. Being a lawyer has given me fantastic opportunities. I have worked with some of the brightest people I have met who do really interesting work. It has improved my analytical skills, my writing and my understanding of business. This would all be incredibly useful in Parliament.

TV leaders’ debates: are they a good or bad idea?
TV leaders’ debates are always going to involve a ‘debate about debates’ in a parliamentary system where we are not choosing a prime minister but rather deciding the balance of the House of Commons. I am slightly concerned that debates put too much focus on party leaders at the expense of wider parliamentary teams, and too much power in the hands of broadcasters to decide who’s in and who’s out.

Having said that, it’s important to have to defend your ideas in a democracy, and I’ve certainly been watching them.

How many kitchens do you have?
Like most people my age, I don’t own my own kitchen due to the exorbitant cost of property. Unlike the socialist Ed Miliband, I’ve not signed a deed of variation to inherit a tax-free fortune.

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