Derek Stillie

From The Premier League To Managing Partner

By Eilidh Armstrong

Life has certainly been a game of two halves for Derek Stillie, managing partner at Wallace Hodge
Solicitors. He made the unusual, but well thought out, switch after a successful career in football as
a Premier League goalkeeper to become a fully qualified lawyer.

“In my previous life I was a footballer and while I was finishing up with that I was also training to be a lawyer. I studied through the Open University while I was still playing football and because of where I was and how I was studying, it was English law that I trained and qualified in. Following this I practiced in London with an American firm.”

However, whether it was his accent or origins, Derek spent a lot of time fielding questions regarding Scots law, something he wasn’t qualified in at the time.

“I thought I should do something with this, so I cross qualified into Scots law and found I was doing more and more work in this area.”

While he enjoyed his time practicing down south, he found himself drawn back up to Scotland.
“I practiced in London for ten years before moving back up to Scotland where I practiced in Glasgow and Edinburgh. From there, I found my way back to my roots down in Ayrshire and started practicing with Wallace Hodge in 2017. I took the business on at the end of 2020.”

The mention of the year 2020 is usually met with pandemic-related woes, but this wasn’t the case for Derek as he remained focused on his plans and maintained a positive outlook towards the future.

“The plan was always to come down here with a view to taking the business on in time, and then the pandemic hit. I was left with a decision to make as there was a question on where the world is going. But I took the view that this is what we intended to do so let’s go for it. It was a leap of faith, but it has worked out so far… touch wood.”

The small country law firm has grown, making the move to a new location only a stone’s through from their old offices, but leaps and bounds ahead in terms of facilities and innovation.

“We moved to our brand-new premises about four months ago. With the move, it feels like we’ve really taken the business on now as we are almost trying to reinvent ourselves by having a more modern, 21st century outlook while still maintaining our traditional law firm.”

Located within the heart of the top end of Ayr town centre at Burns Statue Square, the new offices are exactly what Derek had in mind for the move. He and the team have enjoyed settling into the new building, with the official opening taking place at the end June.

“We love our new space. Its modern, bright and airy and conducive to a good working environment.”
With regards to long-term goals, Derek has created a new branded network. “We’ve got the Legal Loop brand and potentially in the future might invite other like-minded lawyers to join this network.”

But this remains very much in the pipeline with the focus being placed firmly on consolidating their firm within the new office and making the service they provide as efficient as possible.