One of Scotland’s best-known solicitors, Joe Beltrami, has died at the age of 83.

In a career spanning nearly 50 years, Beltrami successfully defended clients who faced the death penalty. He helped secure the first Royal Pardon issued in Scotland, while defending Maurice Swanson, who had been convicted of bank robbery before seeing his conviction overturned.

His law firm, Beltrami & Co, said today: ‘It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of our founder, the legendary Mr Joseph Beltrami. Sincere condolences to his family.’

Qualifying as a solicitor in 1956, Lanarkshire-born Beltrami successfully defended 12 capital murder cases. He retired in 2008, and was granted honorary life membership of the Law Society of Scotland the following year.

The Law Society of Scotland said: ‘Joe Beltrami was a towering figure in Scotland’s legal landscape and will be much missed by all those who knew him.

‘Joe became a household name as one of the country’s foremost criminal defence solicitors and after campaigning for extended rights for solicitors to represent clients in Scotland’s higher courts, qualified as one of the first solicitor-advocates.

‘We were delighted to award him honorary life membership of the Law Society in 2009 for the enormous contribution he made to the solicitors’ profession during a career which spanned more than 50 years.

‘We offer our sincerest condolences to his family and friends.’