Derek Livingston graduated LLB at the University of Glasgow before joining the Glasgow firm of Joseph Mellick in 1978 where he served his apprenticeship. From there he joined Naftalin Duncan & Co , becoming a partner in 1981. His work was initially both in the criminal and civil spheres before specialising in the civil side of things taking a particular interest in housing and welfare law but engaging in the full range of civil work as well as regularly carrying out night work for a newspaper. In 2007 he was appointed as a part time sheriff and in 2016 as a summary sheriff at Falkirk. He is now a full sheriff in South Strathclyde Dumfries and Galloway.
His appointment as a summary sheriff coincided with the inception of Simple Procedure and a load of rules which pointed parties to mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution. To his disappointment although not surprise he discovered that although sheriffs had a duty to try to have parties engage in these processes no signposting of resources took place. He met Professor Irvine at a seminar on Simple Procedure at the University of Strathclyde and arranged for mediation services to be made available at Falkirk and became a big fan of the concept.