In-house lawyers news archive

Launch of ILG North East Scotland Network

26 February 2014

Report of launch ILG North East Scotland Network

On 4 November 2013, the first ILG regional network was launched, specifically the ILG North East Scotland Network. The launch event took place in Burness Paull LLP's offices in Aberdeen. It was the brainchild of Robin Baxter, ILG Committee member in the north east. Before the launch, emails were sent out to our members in the north east to test the water and there was real interest in the network and in getting involved. North east members said they wanted three things from the network:

  1. Networking.
  2. Sharing knowledge and experience.
  3. CPD, particularly oil and gas-specific CPD.

At the event, Robin outlined these objectives and additional thoughts about the network and led some discussion about how the network could work, including the need for a diverse local committee to run it.

Jane MacEachran, in-house lawyer, Law Society Council member for Aberdeen and Law Society Board member, was also there and was keen to engage with in-house lawyers in the area. She hoped the ILG North East Scotland Network would help her do just that. This was preceded by a panel of three in-house lawyers and one ex-in-house lawyer giving an insight into their careers.

Peter McLuckie, of Baxters Food Group, talked about the proximity to decision-making that he has in his role - as a company secretary he's on the board of directors. This means he's dragged into everything - which is both a bonus and a burden. Governance, managing legal risk and protecting the brand are all key. What makes a good in-house lawyer? He said that one thing is to know your limits.

Bruce McLeod, of Burness Paull LLP, provided a private practice perspective, but one very much informed by previously working in-house at BP and then also in a purely commercial role there. As an in-house lawyer hand-holding was a big part of the job. His commercial role was great fun and gave him perspective as a commercial client but he found it hard to move away from a legal role. He shared four observations on an in-house role (in oil and gas but similar elsewhere):

  1. Technical excellence - this is a pre-requisite but is not enough.
  2. Understanding the commercial and technical context in which operating and sector knowledge.
  3. Being part of decision-making - "the guardians of the corporate balance sheet". The legal team are better placed to take some decisions.
  4. Judgment - people look to you for this, more so than in private practice.

Lynda Towers, Chair of the In-House Lawyers' Group, talked about the need for political neutrality in her role as Solicitor to the Scottish Parliament, no matter what is happening. Reputational issues are one of the biggest things she has to deal with and remaining flexible is key. She was quizzed about how she manages to get the time to do two such big roles!

Sara Scott, Vice Chair of the In-House Lawyers' Group, who talked about life as an in-house lawyer in financial services being tough but rewarding and full of opportunities for in-house lawyers. She mentioned the scope for in-house lawyers to move into rewarding quasi-legal roles such as in compliance, risk or company secretarial departments of financial services companies. She also spoke of how she's found it personally rewarding to take opportunities outside of work to learn new skills, by volunteering at the Society in her ILG and other roles.

The event concluded with a lively Q&A session and networking. Watch this space for more information about the ILG North East Scotland Network and its next event.

The committee to develop the network is now being put together, and will be chaired by Peter McLuckie, of Baxters Food Group. If you are interested in helping the committee, please contact Elaine MacGlone.