Tell us about your career at the Society so far?
I joined the Society in 2016 and I have primarily focused on growing our engagement with new lawyers. The role has evolved over time and has included running the Student Associates scheme, hosting various careers events, talking to university groups about the route to qualification, giving one-to-one careers support, and latterly, leading our work on Lawscot Wellbeing.
What drew you to a career with the Society?
I actually ended up working at the Society by chance. I was trying to change my career direction after several years working as an operations manager for a contract catering company and in the events team at a newspaper. The Society was recruiting for a maternity cover, and the day I went to see the recruiter, the person they originally had lined up for the role announced they'd decided to move to Australia. So it was really great timing and I've never looked back.
Have your perceptions of the Society changed since you started?
Absolutely – I wasn't sure when I started that I'd really fit in, as I was used to working in a catering environment which is incredibly direct and fast-paced and I imagined the Law Society of Scotland might be a bit slow! I couldn't have been more wrong. It's a really dynamic organisation; our team manages to convert ideas to reality really quickly and we are constantly doing new things on the engagement side. My initial contract was for five months, but I'll be coming up for five years soon.
What have been the highlights for you personally?
Seeing the Society launch Lawscot Wellbeing, our dedicated online resource for members and employers, back in 2018 was a real high point and I am proud now to lead this area of work. As the professional body for the Scottish legal profession, it's crucial that we support and encourage our members to look after their wellbeing and lead the way in terms of destigmatising conversations about mental health.
I really enjoy giving careers advice, particularly to students. I got no careers advice at uni, other than suggestions of becoming an interpreter or a management consultant (I studied French and Italian), and I think it's so important to be aware of your options. Law students have to be so proactive, and it's also important to try not to get caught up in the rat-race – think through what your strengths are and what you actually want, because there are lots of different opportunities in the legal profession. I love public speaking, so delivering careers talks to 200 people is always good, but I get a lot out of one-to-one calls too. Plus, if someone gets back in touch to say they have got a traineeship, that's a great feeling and I am always so pleased for them.
What are the main issues that you think the Society/the profession has to address at the moment?
Obviously getting through the pandemic is essential and maintaining access to legal services during restrictions. Also, working so closely with trainees, NQs and students, I always have one eye on how we can maintain opportunities for them to start and grow their careers at this difficult time – it is critical for them, but also for the future of the profession.
If you could change only one thing for members and or the public, what would it be?
I would like workplaces to be more mentally healthy. It's not just the legal world that is struggling with wellbeing issues. I left catering as I found the stress overwhelming and for that reason just couldn't see it as a viable long term option. In law specifically, though, I would like to see better work-life balance across the profession and the culture of flexible working improve. So many of us spend our working lives rushing around to get something, apparently critically important, out of the door as quickly as humanly possible. It would be good if as a society we were a bit more discerning about what is actually “urgent”, so we could give each other a bit more breathing space. The Pass the Badge campaign for World Mental Health Day (passthebadge.co.uk) shows that everyone has a story to tell.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
Walking, whether up hills or over fields, lots of cooking, netball, reading and thinking about how to cut down on my carbon footprint – I find it hard not to worry about it all the time these days. I committed to not flying in 2020 but I feel like this year doesn't count, so I'll do next year as well and keep enjoying and exploring Scotland.