Baron Irvine of Lairg QC, the Lord Chancellor, was was educated at Inverness Academy and at Hutchesons' Boys' Grammar School in Glasgow before Glasgow University (where he joined the Labour Party). He graduated MA, LLB there. He then went on to Christ's College, Cambridge, where he graduated BA with 1st class Honours with distinction in Law, and LLB with 1st class Honours. He was a Scholar of his College, and won the University Prize in Jurisprudence. He is an Honorary Fellow of Christ's College.

He lectured in law at the London School of Economics from 1965 to 1969 and was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1967. He has been head of chambers at 11 King's Bench Walk since 1981. He became a QC in 1978 and served as a Recorder from 1985 to 1988. He was appointed a Deputy High Court Judge in 1987.

Lord Irvine, who was created a Life Peer in 1987, married Alison McNair in 1974. Her degrees are MA (Glasgow) and MA in the History of Art from the Courtauld Institute of Fine Art in London. They have two sons, David, born in 1974, and Alastair, who was born in 1976. David graduated BA from St John's College, Oxford in 1996, and is presently an 'intern' with the Nation magazine in New York. Alastair is a student.

Lord Irvine's title comes from the village of Lairg in the District of Sutherland in the North East of Scotland. He chose Lairg as a title because of his family associations with Lairg. His mother and maternal aunts, uncles and grandparents came from Lairg.

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