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Down on the croft with specialist lawyer Eilidh Ross

Eilidh Ross with two of her four-legged friends.
Eilidh Ross with two of her four-legged friends.

Every Monday, we ask small businesses key questions. Here we speak to Dingwall-based crofting law expert Eilidh Ross.

How and why did you start in business?

Growing up in and around Inverness, my family had links with the crofting system.

My parents now live on the family croft in Wester Ross.

My interest in crofting from a legal point of view began when I worked as a tour guide in the early 2000s.

It grew further while I was studying law and worked at the Crofting Commission’s old headquarters on Castle Wynd in Inverness.

I had already studied politics and international relations at Aberdeen University, so law was a second degree for me. I lived and travelled for a few years in the US between the two degrees which was great fun, and I also gained some experience working in an immigration law firm in Houston, Texas.

I served my traineeship with Macleod & MacCallum in Inverness and stayed there for a few years. I then joined Inksters, in 2011, practicing in Inverness and Skye before leaving in 2016 to work for Anderson Shaw & Gilbert.

Two jobs at once

By this time, I had gained a wide range of experience but often felt I was doing two jobs at the same time.

I was both a practising solicitor, dealing with conveyancing and registration of title, and a crofting law specialist. I decided to try to structure things differently, so renounced my practising certificate to focus on crofting law full time. I launched Camus Consulting on July 1 2017.

How did you get to where you are today?

I act principally for law firms, crofters and prospective crofters, as well as development companies and trusts, grazing committees, sheep stock clubs and community groups.

I deal with a lot of croft registration cases and regulatory matters – such as decrofting, assignation, succession and letting, particularly complex and/or corrective cases.

Also croft boundary and access disputes, croft status problems, and Scottish Land Court matters such as resumption, boundary and status applications.

Legal links

I remain on the roll of solicitors as non-practising and am also a member of the Law Society of Scotland. I served on its rural affairs committee between 2008-2017.

I am also a committee member of the Crofting Law Group and member of the Scottish Crofting Federation, while membership of the Federation of Small Businesses gives me a voice in the wider business community and allows me to take advantage of its many services.

Who helped you?

My family and friends have been and continue to be incredibly supportive. I have also had a lot of support and guidance over the years from colleagues, support staff and professionals in other fields.

The Law Society of Scotland helped me through the transition from practising to non-practising solicitor, and is always there if I ever need guidance.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever had?

The harder you work, the luckier you will become.

What is your biggest mistake?

Not travelling more widely when I was younger.

What is your greatest achievement?

My kind and generous daughter, and managing to leave the legal profession while remaining part of the legal community.

How is your business managing rapidly rising costs, and what should government do to help?

Fuel is a key cost, so I use online meetings far more often than I did pre-Covid. I also make a point of seeing as many clients as possible when out on site visits.

What do you do to relax?

Walk my dogs – two collies and a working cocker spaniel – and work with my young Highland pony. I also practice yoga as much as I can and swim outdoors when the weather is kind enough.

What are you currently reading, listening to or glued to on TV?

I’m about to start The Girl On The Ferryboat, by Angus Peter Campbell, and love The Crown on Netflix.

What do you waste your money on?

Cheese and wine – frequently consumed together.

What’s the first thing you do when you get up in the morning?

Let the dogs out, feed the horses, make coffee and take a moment to relax.

What do you drive and dream of driving?

I drive a very practical Ford Ranger pick-up and dream of a fancy horse lorry, stalled for three horses and with plenty of space for parties at competitions.