John McKinlay is head of DLA Piper's UK IP & Technology practice, and convenes the Society’s Technology Law & Practice Committee, involved in Lawscot Tech and the new legal technologist accreditation

What made you pursue a career as a solicitor?

By accident really, since I had originally planned to do engineering or science. I went to a University Open Day to look round those faculties, liked what I saw and had the forms half filled in. However, the last talk before the bus took us home happened to be from the Law Faculty – and that presentation was completely different. It was very thought provoking and by some distance more interesting than anything else I had heard that day. Aged 17, that constituted a perfectly valid reason to change my career plans overnight, and so law it was!

Why did you decide to join this committee?

Being a technology lawyer you are always trying to make tech a pleasure not a chore, but it is still not accessible enough to the busy lawyer. So the Tech Law Committee seemed like a great platform to try to change that narrative.

Have your perceptions of the Society changed since?

Obviously some of what the Society does is highly visible to us all, but I had no idea of the amount of work that goes on quietly and behind the scenes before I joined. There is essentially an army beavering away doing things to make the legal profession run smoothly that I just took for granted before I joined. A lot of people give up their time and I think they deserve immense credit for it.

What have been the highlights for you personally?

I think realising that there are so many people who are passionate and committed to the legal profession in general and Scots law in particular. It makes you very optimistic.

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

In our case it is balancing the day-to-day needs of busy professionals with the need to ensure we are fit for the future and tackling some of the bigger issues coming down the track. I think we have a good balance on the committee of being grounded but also looking at the future vision of the legal profession in Scotland, but we are definitely not complacent and want to do more.

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

As a profession I think we work too hard and, from time to time, if we are being honest, possibly not at the absolute summit of efficiency. So if I could change once thing it would be to give a special prize/prominence for lawyers and other legal professionals who share practical ideas for making the whole profession work smarter. We are a community and should use that strength more than we do currently.

What has been the most surprising aspect of your work with the Society?

How many people give up so much of their time – it is really quite amazing.

What’s your top tip for new lawyers?

Be passionate about what you do, and don’t be shy about talking yourself up!

What keeps you busy outside of work?

Trying to keep pace with my teenagers’ knowledge of tech, so far as it relates to phones, computer games and social media!


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