John Brannigan's NQ blog November 2014 - Privilege to practise
Trainee blogger John Brannigan has recently qualified as a solicitor, and now works at Fleming and Reid solicitors. In his first blog he talks about the privilege of practising law.
I have reached an important milestone in my career by recently becoming a newly qualified solicitor. This is a pivotal time in any young lawyer’s career; it is at this point we can look back, with a sigh of relief, that the days of studying and essay-writing are long behind us, yet we commence on our new path of continued professional development in our daily practice.
As a student I was told the practice of law is a privilege, not a right. In entering the profession and, in particular, having the opportunity to practice in court, I now realise how accurate that statement is.
For example, to be able to put questions to witnesses, sometimes of a sensitive or personal nature, with the additional responsibility of that witness to answer those questions, in a public forum, is a privilege that lends itself only to those in our profession.
With privilege comes responsibility
Consequently the role of a solicitor carries with it responsibility; students at varying levels will come to learn of the solicitor’s responsibility to the client, to the court and to the profession itself.
In other legal sectors too there is huge responsibility. In the corporate sector the solicitor’s clients might be multi-national companies, or ‘entities’ as I believe they are called, and the solicitor might be advising on the legal aspects of multi-million pound transactions.
In any law firm, then, the legal adviser is a trusted individual with expert knowledge. This is something which each of us aspires to. Whether you are a trainee, an NQ or PQE, or even a senior partner, each of us can take the opportunity to progress in our professional capacity with each new case or litigation.
Learn from your peers
Indeed, the Scottish legal profession is a small, yet dynamic body of talented lawyers across all fields. This provides a rich source of knowledge not only for clients, but for fellow solicitors to tap in to; information sharing is a great way to ensure our profession remains live to new legal issues. This can be through one-to-one exchanges between solicitors in, say, the courtroom, or through a firm’s intranet in larger practices.
Lao Tzu said ‘the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.’ In the same respect, I’m proud to be part of our wonderful profession and to be taking the first steps in my career as a solicitor.