Tell us about your career so far?
I was a pretty sub-par student, and a mediocre, rather disinterested trainee at Alex Morison & Co in the mid-90s. I joined McGrigor Donald in 1996 in the Commercial Property team and started to enjoy being a lawyer and getting a bit of responsibility. They sent me to London and then Belfast in 2000, where I requalified and practised for a few years before coming back to Scotland. I'm currently a partner in the Real Estate division at Addleshaw Goddard (which was HBJ until 2017, for those who don't keep up to date with the latest takeover news).
What led you to become involved with the Society?
I'd like to say that it was a burning desire to give back to the profession or some other altruistic driver, but it was done solely out of self-interest. The firm was encouraging extracurricular professional activities as part of a professional development programme. At the time there were a couple of spaces on the Society's committees, so I thought that would tick the box. I was also in charge of the trainee development programme for Property at the firm and I thought there would be some overlap between the work of the Admissions Committee and the day job.
Has anything surprised you about the committee work or the Society more widely?
I'm not sure why it surprised me, and it probably no longer does, but I think the immensely high quality of the people involved in the Society, both staff and volunteers, and the quality of the work that is undertaken, was a bit of a revelation. There is an enormous effort and resource applied to making sure that fairness and propriety are achieved and that the interests of the profession and the public are correctly and proportionally balanced. The lengths to which we go to make sure rules are applied fairly and that the correct outcomes are achieved often outweigh (in my rather skewed qualitative assessment) the relative importance of the matter at hand.
What have you found most interesting about the committee's work?
Two areas: first, the range of work undertaken, and secondly, getting an understanding and an appreciation of the different issues that all our members face. Dealing with regulatory issues and fashioning and applying them to in-house, high street and big firm situations has taught me a lot.
What are the main issues that you think the Regulatory Committee has to address at the moment?
It seems like a bit of a neverending cycle for RegCom, but dealing with the Competition & Markets Authority proposition of regulatory reform will, I imagine, come pretty high up the agenda again once we start coming out of lockdown. I have to say that there seems to be a constant suspicion that as a self-regulator we are somehow cooking the books in favour of the members to the detriment of the consumer. In my experience, the legal members on the regulatory committees are a lot less forgiving of their fellow members than the lay members are, so I think that suspicion is misplaced. Aside from that, I think we are going to see a lot of pressure on changing our regulatory regime to deal with the knock-on effect to working practices brought on by COVID.
Would you recommend being on a committee, and why?
Yes. (1) It's very interesting and rewarding. (2) You get to meet and work with hugely clever and talented people, within the Society's staff, members and the other volunteers. (3) Your understanding of the larger profession will multiply tenfold. (4) It counts for CPD so that becomes a worry of the past.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
Right now, “outside of work” has little meaning. Going into the office to sign a document is like a day out. But when I'm eventually allowed out I'll be fishing somewhere with my children, Archie, Hugo and Florence.
- Civil court: Nuts and bolts issues
- Corporate: The limits of reflective loss
- Intellectual property: rights in employee creations
- Agriculture: Allowing tenants to leave for value
- Family: Teaming up to Zoom in on marriage
- Data protection: EU transfers flow for a little longer
- Scottish Solicitors' Discipline Tribunal
- Property: Access by prescription: challenge of proof
- In-house: Moving in-house as an NQ
- New AML guidance: what you need to know
- Schools outreach: a virtual revolution
- The Word of Gold: The joy of cheques
- Wills and executries: learning the hard way
- OPG update
- The Eternal Optimist: No going back
- Handling police complaints: seeking fitness for purpose
- Profile: Christine O’Neill QC
- Ask Ash: Double demands