Brussels-based Siobhan Kahmann is the first ever Council member for Scottish international solicitors

What made you pursue a career as an international lawyer?

I had always been fascinated by the law, and the choice to pursue a career as a European/international lawyer was a result of some very good advice I received from my Honours commercial law lecturer in fourth year at the University of Aberdeen. This led me to study an LLM at the University of Amsterdam, and receive the WS Scholarship which was awarded by the then Scottish CJEU judge, David Edward. I have since worked as a stagiaire or trainee in the European Courts in Luxembourg, and in Brussels and Singapore as a competition and tech lawyer.

Why did you decide to stand for Council?

Many reasons – I was very pleased to hear the news that an international Council opening had been created, and felt I was in a good position to represent international Scots lawyers, having worked in Asia and Europe for the last decade. The timing is also very important with Brexit, and I wanted to help contribute as much as possible to managing the issues that Scots solicitors may face, practising in Europe in the near future. Additionally, I have always kept in contact with the Law Society of Scotland’s international section, and I very much enjoy working with the Tech Committee and the Competition Committee. I therefore am already a participant in some of the diverse Law Society of Scotland work and activities, which I very much enjoy.

Have your perceptions of the Society changed since you joined Council?

There have only been a few Council meetings since I was elected. However, I think it is fair to say that from what I have experienced so far, Council is a very energetic and enthusiastic bunch of Scots that care deeply about the interests of Scots solicitors and the future of the legal profession in Scotland, and Council discussions regarding many material issues are well prepared for and strenuously debated. (I was also rather impressed with the bacon rolls served before each meeting, as we definitely don’t enjoy such a delicacy in Belgium!)

What are the main issues that you think Council has to address at the moment?

From my position as international Council member, there are a few topics which are high on my agenda, and which I am in the process of working on. These have generally been raised by international Scots lawyers to me: a wider communication network to be established amongst international Scots solicitors; raise/question the appropriateness of the full PC fee and SLCC levy for international Scots solicitors, especially in the context of the Society’s engagement regarding the SLCC levy, and also the Society’s proposal for radical reform to Scottish legal services regulation and the repeal of the current outdated legislation; the increased provision of relevant CPD from the Law Society of Scotland by webinar or video streaming for international Scots solicitors; and last but certainly not least, advising, supporting and representing international Scots solicitors in relation to continued practising rights in Europe post-Brexit.

What’s your top tips for new lawyers?

Be your own person and develop your own brand, try to set yourself frequent goals of something that scares you, and never lose touch with your network, as they will be your potential clients some day!

If you could change only one thing for your members, what would it be?

That Brexit would not affect international Scots solicitors’ rights and abilities to practise in Europe in the future.

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I set up and manage my own ceilidh band, playing the electric fiddle: We play ceilidhs mainly in Belgium, but have also got ones lined up in Italy, Austria, Holland and France later this year. Some memorable past gigs have included MEP Burns Suppers, the Belgian Queen’s sister’s birthday feast, and a Hogmanay gig at a chateau in the Ardennes (where the Belgian aristocrat guests had a little too much whisky to drink before dinner, and preferred to compete at getting the dances as wrong as possible)!

What are you planning for your next steps?

In line with the priorities I have set out above, I intend to address each individually and communicate with our international members by various ways, including updates in the Journal and Journal online in upcoming issues, blogging on developments, outreach emails through the Society, and surveys like the one recently sent to Europe-based lawyers on the impact of Brexit on practising rights and how the Society can best assist.

Clearly, some of these priorities are more urgent than others, and some are simply restricted by the relevant process timing – but I am already working on all of these points, bringing them up as and when appropriate at Council meetings, and am in touch with relevant Society staff to move them forward as quickly as possible.

In the meantime, do reach out if you would like to discuss any of the issues raised with me, or of course if there are any other matters that international members would like me to address: or 0032 471 385 745. I will be in touch.

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