Fiona McPhail – ‘World Changing Alumni’ Award reception

On the evening of Wednesday 30 March, a reception took place to celebrate the occasion of Law alumna Fiona McPhail being presented with the University of Glasgow’s ‘World Changing Alumni’ award 2021.   

Fiona was shortlisted for the award in recognition of her work as a lawyer, defending the human rights of some of society’s most vulnerable, and was voted for by members of the University alumni community. 

Fiona graduated with an LLB from Glasgow in 2007. She was appointed as Principal Solicitor for Shelter Scotland in 2017, where she has worked for the service since 2014. She began her career as a qualified solicitor at the Legal Services Agency, a pro bono law centre which also specialises in securing rights work for the most vulnerable communities within Scotland.   

In 2019, she was a leading member of the legal team that challenged the asylum seeker lock change evictions driven by Serco in the Court of Session. This protected the housing of over 300 individuals. The group of law firms collectively won The Herald's Law Award 2019. Fiona continues to be pivotal in pioneering strategic litigation in Scotland in relation to homelessness and housing poverty.   

Her desire is to use the law as a tool to benefit the poorest in our communities and to defend their right to a home.  During the COVID pandemic, Shelter has been a vocal advocate for those who have been made homeless or are living in insecure housing.   

Fiona’s work underpins a commitment to equality of opportunity to legal guidance and services to vulnerable members of the community with limited options.  She was responsible for establishing a free, confidential legal service and education and training programme called StrEEt Aware in 2017. This service extends to migrant rough sleeping clients and those individuals and groups that support them and is a pioneering social justice collaboration between Shelter Scotland Housing Law and JustRight Scotland and Streetwork Edinburgh. 

Her daily work as a lawyer is to advise and fight for vulnerable clients on their rights and ensure that policy and legislation is developed and interpreted to avoid discrimination and enhance equality. She has been, and continues to be, effective in both strands of work. 

Fiona has devoted her legal career to the advancement of human rights and social justice for the most vulnerable members of our community in Scotland. She remains a committed friend of the School of Law and this year alone has partnered with us to provide both experiential and research opportunities to our students. The School is delighted that Fiona has been recognised in this way by the alumni community. 

Read an interview with Fiona for UofG ‘Avenue’ alumni magazine: 

First published: 1 April 2022