Our week-long virtual summer school this year had sessions on a wide variety of topics, including exploring the work of advocates. Julian Thomson was one of the pupils to attend the summer school and discusses how the impact of a particular speaker inspired him to explore advocacy as a career.
Prior to attending the Law Society of Scotland’s summer school recently, I admit to being woefully ignorant of the work of an advocate.
My somewhat misguided assumption was that this was an obscure branch of the legal profession, reserved primarily for privately educated rich men, who were well-connected and long-established in their field.
Reaching the lofty heights of advocacy seemed impossible and I didn’t see myself as worthy of its attention. How could a young lad like me, who had been through the care system, wasn’t very well connected and disengaged from mainstream education at an early age, possibly land such a prestigious and well-respected job?
During the first day of summer school, I heard an advocate say: “I wasn’t well connected when I started-out.” I have since reflected carefully on these words and realised that they planted within me the first seeds of hope.
Coming through the care system and all the assumptions and prejudices (both personal and external) involved, very often, dash any hopes one can have for their future. Having the opportunity to speak with a living and breathing advocate who ‘wasn’t well connected’ helped me to re-construct my own misconceptions and prejudices. Instead of asking ‘Why me?’, I started to ask “Why not me?”
Prior to attending summer school, I had considered a career in Public Law or Family Law, as these had piqued my interest. However, what the Society has demonstrated through its summer school is that it is very often the relationships that we create that inform the decisions we take during our lives. An inspiring teacher, a mentor or a guest speaker at summer school can play an important role in shaping a young person’s career.
My experiences of both the care system in Scotland and the Society's summer school will play a pivotal role in informing the kind of advocate I wish to be.
I will also always remember and be grateful to that advocate who inspired hope within me and helped me to see that I could become an advocate, despite my current lack of privilege, connections and financial resources.