Joe Beltrami was born on 15 May 1932 in Rutherglen, Lanarkshire. He was educated at St Aloycious' College in Glasgow, then studied law at the University of Glasgow and completed a legal apprenticeship with the local firm of Baird Smith Barclay and Muirhead. He set up his own legal firm, Beltrami & Company, in Glasgow in 1958. Willie Dunn joined him as a partner shortly afterwards and the business soon established a large clientele. Beltrami specialised in criminal law and first came to public prominence when he successfully defended Walter Scott Ellis, who was accused of murder in 1961. In a similarly high-profile case, Beltrami defended Patrick Meehan, who was accused and wrongfully convicted of murder in 1969. After a 15-year battle, which also involved a campaign by the television commentator, Ludovic Kennedy, Beltrami and Nicholas Fairbairn succeeded in having Meehan's conviction quashed. Meehan was granted a Royal Pardon and received a large compensation payment and Beltrami subsequently published a book about the case, entitled 'A Deadly Innocence'. Beltrami was also known for representing Arthur Thompson, the self-styled Glasgow gangster, for over four decades. In 1993 he became the first Solicitor-Advocate to plead in the Court of Criminal Appeal. He died in Glasgow on 24 February 2015.