HE has been "Laying Down the Law" for Evening Times readers for years.
Now Austin Lafferty is going to do the same for the entire legal profession.
Because the veteran Glasgow lawyer has just become President of the Law Society of Scotland, the body that both represents and regulates the nation's solicitors.
And Mr Lafferty has got the job exactly as the squeeze on public finance makes life tough for lawyers – and those they are trying to protect.
Today, he warned cuts could make it harder for Scots to get a fair trial.
He said: "The Government has made it clear they want to cut the legal aid budget.While saving public money is important, there is a serious risk that the baby gets thrown out with the bath water and it becomes difficult, or even impossible, for a huge number of people to get access to justice."
Lawyers, themselves at times bitterly divided in recent years, have struggled to win public sympathy for their plight from a public who thinks they drive BMWs and live in suburban villas.
But Mr Lafferty – who has a Vauxhall, not a BMW – stressed that lawyers had to make common ground with those they represent to make sure cuts don't hurt those who need justice most.
He said: "People may have the usual idea of lawyers as fat-cats – the reality is the legal profession has been suffering the same way as lots of other businesses.
"If you cut us out of business, we won't be there any more.
"There will be more and more cuts on an annual basis and those will directly affect the fees payable to solicitors for legal services.
"It is worth remembering this is not lawyers feathering their nests. We get a very moderate rate of pay.
"The plumber you get to come in and fix your drain will very often be on a higher rate than a lawyer."
Mr Lafferty likes to compare lawyers to doctors, although he admits not everybody accepts the comparison.
He said: "If there is something wrong with your health you go to your GP or hospital it does not cost you anything up front. We pay for it through our taxes.
"Justice might be equally important, keeping you out of prison or saving you fines or maintaining your property rights.
"Yet you have to go through hurdles to get the protection of a professional lawyer through legal aid."
Aside from seeing the profession through the recession, Mr Lafferty has one other priority.
He said: "I want to get all 10,500 solicitors – who all do different things – to feel they all belong to the same profession."
He refers to this as "collegiality" – a word he admits is grand but a feeling that has been lacking in the profession in recent years.
Some solicitors from Glasgow, including some members of the city's criminal bar association, are deeply uncomfortable with the Edinburgh-based Law Society.
Splits have been bitter. Mr Lafferty doesn't feel he belongs to any camp.
The veteran – he has been working in Glasgow for more than three decades – has another passion: demystifying the law for the general public.
He said: "I understand ordinary people – I have spent 30 years telling them about the law.
"Not only have I been on radio and TV and the Evening Times but I go around to clubs and organisations and do talks about the law.
"I have a little mock trial project I have had in a few schools, the kind of thing a great many lawyers do in an unsung way.
"This is because I believe we have to bring people and the legal system together.
"I think the more we can have the public on side with us the better it will be."
THE law runs in Austin's Lafferty's blood. His father – of the same name – was a Glasgow solicitor. So are his siblings. And so, soon, will be his son.
Mr Lafferty has been a general practice solicitor since 1981 after graduating from Glasgow University, where he debated in the same club as future Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy.
He's been Laying Down the Law in our column of the same name since 2005 and regularly appears on radio and television explaining the finer points of the legal world.
He published a punter-friendly guide-book, It's The Law, in 2004 and has been involved in legal politics and the Law Society, for the last six years, serving as its vice president since 2011 – until the end of last month, when he got the top job.
But Mr Lafferty isn't only interested in the law. He also paints portraits and landscapes and has his own art gallery.
And anyone thinking of tackling him politically should bear in mind the former St Aloysius' College boy also has a black belt in karate...