Media Release: North-east barrister take his career by the reins

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WORKING full-time, studying for a PhD, and show jumping may not seem like the easiest of tasks to do in one week, but North-east barrister, Craig Bennison, manages to jump all three hurdles in one easy go.

Craig, who was born in Glasgow, juggles his full-time career at leading Scottish employment law, HR and health and safety firm, Empire, around his distance learning PhD course in Law at the Queen’s University in Belfast, and his show jumping hobby.

Craig has been a qualified barrister for over 16 years; however, he did not originally set out to pursue a career in law.

In a quest to become a doctor, Craig originally studied pharmacy, but after several lectures of Inorganic Chemistry, he soon discovered that this was not the course for him.

It was during his brief spell as a Royal Military Policeman where he had some exposure to Military law that Craig realised where his talent and passion lay.

Craig said: “When I withdrew from pharmacy, I decided to take some time out to save some money and think about my future career – and I even got a job at Butlins.

“However, it was my time in the Royal Military Police, which made me realise that I wanted to become a barrister.”

Craig applied to Anglia Ruskin University to study a degree in Law in 1993 and was selected to continue his training at the Former Inns of Court School of Law in 1996.

He was one of 2,000 applicants to be offered one of only 750 places at the only establishment to offer training for aspiring barristers at that time.

He quickly built a strong reputation as an able ‘advocate’, listening to clients needs and providing commercially driven solutions, all supported with his charismatic personality.

Craig said: “Since qualifying, I worked in several law firms in England and Scotland, and over the years I found a passion for employment law.

“In 2009, I undertook a masters in employment law and industrial relations, and today I stand up and argue the law in front of judges and make a difference to both the law and my clients.”

Craig has worked at Empire for nearly two years and is the firm’s head of litigation, specialising in employment law and industrial relations, along with business related areas of law.

He works between the two Empire offices in Aberdeen and Glasgow providing clients with practical commercial advice on all employment related matters and also assisting with all tribunal cases – whilst studying for a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and commuting from his family home in Dumfries, which he shares with his wife and three young children.

He said: “Juggling my PhD on top of my work and looking after my three children is difficult but I am really enjoying it and I am fortunate that I have done a distance learning course before so I am pretty well-trained in time management.

“I like to utilise my commuting time effectively and I often take the train instead of driving so I can get out my laptop and get some work done, although the travelling can be tiring.”

When he is not studying and working at Empire, Craig likes to relax by show jumping, however the recent bad weather has curtailed his hobby.

At his home in Dumfries, he has 11 horses, and he tries to compete at least twice a month.

He said: “I really enjoy show jumping as it is a great escape from work, studying and my children! It also brings out a competitive streak in me that I didn’t know I had and I love the atmosphere within the arena, with everyone cheering me on. It makes me feel a bit like Harvey Smith, the former British show jumping champion.”

If that isn’t enough to keep him busy he is also a husband to Julie and father to his three young children Kiera, Robin and Mia.

To find out more about Empire contact 01224 701383 or visit

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Contact: Jillian Sheran
Phone: 01224857999