Law Society study shows that experience counts
Some areas of law may be seen as a “young person’s game” – but experienced solicitors are valued too, according to research carried out by the Law Society of Scotland.
The findings are included in the Experiences of Established Legal Professionals within the Legal Profession in Scotland report published today. The in-depth, qualitative research is a follow-up to the Profile of the Profession study, the biggest survey of its kind carried out by the Society.
The latest report, which involved group and telephone interviews of solicitors, focused on issues facing more experienced professionals, an area that had been “under explored” in the past.
One of the issues examined in the section on attitudes towards experienced professionals was “law as a young person’s game”.
Some respondents agreed that certain relatively new areas of law – such as, some corporate work, mergers and takeovers, technology law and the oil and gas sector – were geared more towards younger people. Others said there was a perception that was the case when long hours were involved in legal work.
An element of “burnout” in the profession was also identified due to the numbers of solicitors, particularly partners, who either retired early or took on less demanding and pressurised roles.
However, other respondents “felt that experience (far more so than simply age) still counted for a lot”, the study found.
One respondent said that, while the younger generation of solicitors may be expected to work quicker and adapt better to new technology, they often lacked the knowledge and experience needed to find the best solutions, particularly in difficult or unusual situations.
Others believed young professionals may have more limited opportunities for achieving partnership status.
The Society’s Director of Representation and Professional Support, Neil Stevenson, said: “The Profile of the Profession survey provided valuable insights into the legal profession and how it is working as a whole but it was largely quantitative.
“This report builds on that by giving a much more detailed understanding of the issues facing older and more established Scottish solicitors, an area that had been under explored until now.
“On law as a young person’s game, it appears that views are mixed. The Society believes that everyone in the profession should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential, regardless of age.
“One reason we carried out this work was to explore feedback that we might be better at supporting newer lawyers with careers advice and support, but not have the right services for those with more experience behind them.
“More information on ‘portfolio careers’ and planning for exit of the profession were early ideas raised. We will now consider the recommendations in the report in detail.”
In examining the experiences of more established lawyers, the study also looked at their motivations and aspirations, the consideration of other careers, succession and/or exit planning and experiences of the Society and its services.
The report made a number of recommendations for improvements to the Society’s services, including: providing training or mentoring on issues such as retirement, pension and succession planning; offering CPD courses and networking events for those at the later stages in their careers; providing career guidance to more mature lawyers; hosting a database of retired or semi-retired solicitors available for work; and, clarifying issues around age discrimination.
Notes to editors:
The 2013 Profile of the Profession was based on a questionnaire sent to all solicitors, trainees and those retained on the roll of solicitors. A total of 3,449 responded, a response rate of 24.5%
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