THREE young trainee solicitors are organising a conference tomorrow on how law can be used to help vulnerable people and those marginalised in society.

Former SNP parliamentary candidate Mairi McAllan, 24, joined forces with Seonaid Stevenson, 27, and Katy McAskill, 24, to set up the new group RebLaw Scotland.

They were inspired by the work of US lawyer Gerald Lopez who coined the term Rebellious Lawyering in 1992 to describe lawyers who wanted to use their skills to support the “disempowered”.

“Too often being a lawyer can feel like being a guardian of vested interests, that we are there to protect privilege and maintain the status quo, but RebLaw is about lawyers coming together and standing up, saying things should be done differently,” McAllan told The National.

“We want to push for reform in the law which enables people who are now being served insufficiently by it to be better served.

“Rebellious lawyering is about law students, solicitors and trainee solicitors coming together to engage with under-served communities and using the law as a tool towards social justice.

“The RebLaw conference originated at Yale University in the US. There’s also been one in London and now we are bringing it to Scotland for the first time.”

McAllan, who stood unsuccessfully for the SNP against Scottish Secretary David Mundell in June’s snap General Election, said her group had been warmly received among both lawyers and wider Scottish society including by Glasgow University, where tomorrow’s conference is being held. Around 175 delegates will attend the event, along with 30 panellists and 30 student volunteers.

Those addressing the conference include human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar, Clare Connelly, advocate at Compass Chambers, and Nicola Gilchrist, advocate with Arnot Manderson and vice-convener of Scottish Women’s Aid.

Current moves in Holyrood to tighten up laws on domestic abuse and whether the Scottish legal system could do more to support refugees and combat homelessness are among the subjects to be discussed. John Finnie’s Bill to ban the physical punishment of children and a wider discussion on children and the law are also to be debated.

Kate Laverty, deputy director of the University of Strathclyde Law Clinic, Andrew Alexander, head of policy at the Law Society of Scotland, and Anwar will discuss whether cuts to legal aid will diminish justice being served in Scotland.

The role of lawyers in tackling the gender pay gap, how lawyers can challenge the negative effects of austerity and how Scotland can help protect women and girls at risk of forced marriage and people trafficking will also be among the topics on the agenda.

Anwar, who is also rector of Glasgow University, welcomed the setting up of RebLaw Scotland and was looking forward to addressing the conference.

He said: “If you look at the Birmingham Six, Hillsborough, deaths in custody, and the Stephen Lawrence campaign, you see justice is not something that is handed down to us by judges. It is something that people have had to fight for with the support of lawyers.

“I hope the setting up of RebLaw Scotland will enthuse students. Students shouldn’t be put off the fight for justice, whether that’s because of legal aid cuts or because of what other lawyers say. I believe the more students we have coming in who want to fight for justice, the better the system is.”

Professor Jane Mair of the University of Glasgow’s School of Law said: “RebLaw Scotland is about challenging perceptions of law and lawyers as elitist and challenging models of access to legal advice which are only for the privileged few. The School of Law is excited to be part of this new movement. It’s about students, graduates and academics working together to make law a tool for social justice. It’s about a particular kind of entrepreneurship – social entrepreneurship.”