Gillian Alexander is the Law Society of Scotland’s head of Professional Practice and secretary to the Property Law Committee

Tell us a bit about your career so far…

I completed my traineeship with a high street firm, Cartys in Lanarkshire. I stayed with that firm and became an associate working predominantly in property and private client, including adults with incapacity. Having gathered a good grounding and experience in general practice, I joined the Society’s Professional Practice team in November 2016.

Did your perceptions of the Society change when you started?

Absolutely. I had little understanding of the variety of work that the Society did prior to working here. I was more aware of the regulatory side of things and the CPD offering rather than the great work that we do as a representative body. Since coming here, I am impressed with the work of our representational and policy committees. We also do a lot of work on social mobility, and the LawScot Foundation is a really good example of that – Baublefest, our annual Christmas campaign, is open until 20 December, but there are always ways to support this great charity: just check out the website. In short, it is a great place to work, with great colleagues. 

What have been the highlights for you personally?

As secretary to the Property Law Committee, I have been fortunate to have worked with two excellent conveners during my time here, Ross MacKay and Deborah Lovell. Being involved in the work of the committee is invaluable and I have enjoyed engaging with stakeholders, such as Registers of Scotland, to discuss and progress matters on behalf of our members.

What do you see as the main issues for solicitors at the moment?

Research and feedback from our members tells us that the cost of compliance is a burden which weighs heavily on the legal profession’s shoulders. The Anti-Money Laundering Regulations and GDPR are two examples of legislation that makes significant demands on members’ time and resources. It can be challenging to balance these additional demands with the day-to-day running of a business and of course looking after client needs – but they are not optional, so my colleagues in Prof Prac and across the Society are constantly working to provide information and resources to support our members.

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

I am constantly surprised by the variety of work that I have the opportunity to be involved in. The main part of my job is dealing with professional practice enquiries; however for most things that we deal with there is a professional practice element, and having been a solicitor in private practice I am able to offer insight on how legislation and/or initiatives will affect our members.

What’s your top tip for new lawyers?

Enjoy what you do and grab every opportunity to get involved. Ask questions, get in touch with the Society, think about joining a committee or just come along to one of our many events… and network – you can learn a lot and give and receive invaluable support from colleagues across the legal profession. Do your best to achieve a healthy work-life balance. Your wellbeing is the most valuable thing you have, so above all, look after yourself.

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I am a bit of a social butterfly. I love a good restaurant and am always looking for and providing recommendations. I love musical theatre (as an audience member), and enjoy getting away on city breaks and cruises.

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