Tim Taylor, a second year Trainee Solicitor at Hastings Legal explains why widening your networks can benefit your career and why he set up Scottish Borders Young Professionals (SBYP).

Tim obtained his First Class LLB from Edinburgh Napier University and Diploma from the University of Edinburgh.  Before joining Hastings Legal, he was a Duty Store Manager at Lidl Scotland, Court Production Officer at Lloyds Banking Group, and Senior Legal Analyst at Ashurst LLP.  He successfully completed the 2050 Climate Group’s Young Leader Development Programme 2016 and is the founder and chairman of Scottish Borders Young Professionals.  He is due to qualify in July 2018.

Why did you set up Scottish Borders Young Professionals?

One element of legal life that I noticed was missing soon after starting my traineeship, was a networking group specifically designed for young professionals in the Borders. So the opportunity had presented itself, as such a group simply didn’t exist. Creating a group of this nature seemed preferable to the status quo. Hence, SBYP was born.

Any careers advisor worth their salt will agree that, as a trainee solicitor, cultivating a professional network will give your career a healthy shot in the arm, as it helps establish your ‘personal brand’ as a soon-to-be solicitor within your community (however you choose to define your community). 

Given the gap in the market, and the clear benefits of getting to know other like minded young professionals, setting up SBYP was a no-brainer, notwithstanding the time and energy commitments required above and beyond the day job.

What is the purpose of the group?

It is noted on the SBYP website that the group “aims to provide a central hub for social opportunities for all young professionals who live and work in the Scottish Borders.” We have already facilitated the connection between solicitors, accountants, business owners, a fashion designer, a magazine editor, teachers, farmers, surveyors, and a variety of other professionals at our launch event, which we hope will be just the start of things to come.

Another aim of the group is to create opportunities more generally. This could occur when our members get chatting at one of our events, or when we have an inspirational speaker give a presentation that sows the seeds for an innovative idea. Another 'opportunity creator', which is particularly satisfying for me, is the SBYP Committee, where we have a variety of different roles currently being filled by fellow young professionals from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines.

What has been the biggest challenge to date?

Finding the time and energy to run the group is probably the biggest challenge I’ve faced so far.  Although it’s not rocket science, as a trainee solicitor, it can be difficult to prioritise our professional network when simultaneously grappling with the relentless onslaught of billable work, client expectations and, frankly, the self-imposed (and often unrealistic) expectations that we as trainees tend to place upon ourselves. 

It is tempting to think: “I can’t afford to take the time to work on my professional network given my busy schedule, targets and workload.” However, when you consider the benefits of doing so, can we really afford not to spend the time? In a world where time is money, it can be difficult to exercise the necessary forethought to undertake projects that are neither billable nor of obvious short-term benefit to your firm’s bottom line.  Nevertheless, I am finding that overcoming this challenge is certainly worth the effort given the longer-term results that follow.

What have you learned from this experience?

Firstly, building an organisation from scratch is a long and tricky process and it’s inevitable that, as a result of such a steep learning-curve, plenty of mistakes will be made along the way (particularly in the early days!) That is pretty much a given. However, it’s those individuals and teams who learn from said mistakes who will ultimately succeed and fulfil their goals in the end. 

Secondly, I have learned that the simple act of taking the initiative to either fix something that is broken or improve something that is not running optimally, goes a long way in all walks of life.  Whether it’s drafting a new template document that you think will be useful for your colleagues, or starting a networking group from the ground up; if you want to be, you must do.

Look out for Tim’s next blog post, where he will take a closer look at time management and avoiding the ‘Tyranny of the Urgent’. 

Find out more about the SBYP on their website or follow the SBYP on Facebook

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