Law society: Finding the right career path

THE Law Society’s admissions ceremonies are similar to a graduation, giving new solicitors a chance to mark and reflect upon their achievements so far, and inevitably to consider what the future holds.

For many, this is the first opportunity to step off the treadmill of education and training and consider what career options are available. I read recently that the average person spends longer planning one summer holiday than they do their entire career, which at first glance may seem astonishing but in truth is probably not too surprising.

At school, the focus is on the next stage, and for many new solicitors, this meant applying to study the LLB. The law degree itself is somewhat of a whirlwind of exams, assignments, extra circular activities and, for the majority of students, part-time work. The final year of the degree and the Diploma year are likely to be dominated by balancing work and studying with applying for traineeships and attending interviews. Uppermost in many students’ minds is where to study the Diploma, and how to obtain a traineeship. It’s only really at this stage – the point of being admitted – that you may be able to reflect on what a career in the legal profession could be, and where it might take you.

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The legal profession is split into two branches: solicitors and advocates, and many career ambitions have traditionally focused on being a partner in a law firm, an established advocate or, for some, a career in the judiciary. However, huge changes in the legal profession in recent times have meant there are many other options and ambitions for today’s new solicitors.

One career path which many new lawyers find themselves following is working “in-house”, be it in the legal 
department of a commercial enterprise or perhaps in a local authority. Around a quarter of the legal profession currently work “in-house” and enjoy the challenges this can bring. Here the ambition is not to be a partner, but rather to create opportunities to establish a career in companies and organisations which may not traditionally have had an in-house legal team.

The increase in the number of mergers is also leading to a change in career paths for many. Two law firms merging may provide newly qualified solicitors with the opportunity to become involved with areas of law that they were not exposed to during their traineeship. The introduction of alternative business structures will also bring with it challenges and opportunities, and the typical career path for a solicitor in Scotland could well look very different in a few years’ time.

This is, however, a challenging time for many new solicitors. Not everyone will be offered a position upon qualification, and for some the competition for jobs starts again after a two-year break during the traineeship. For some of the new solicitors being admitted today, the next few years of their career may be carefully mapped out and planned, with clear ambitions set. For others, the future may be less clear, at least in the short term. For those who are being admitted with no firm ideas as to what to do next, it may be that your career path will take unexpected twists and turns during the next few years, and if this is the case, embracing these changes will be to your advantage.

Planning where you would like to go in your career but being able to embrace changes as they happen will equip all of today’s new solicitors for a career in the legal profession. Meeting the new solicitors every year at the admissions ceremonies and talking to many of them on a daily basis here at the Law Society, I have no doubt that they are ready and keen to take on the challenges their career will present. Congratulations to all new solicitors for making it to this stage, and good luck in your career – wherever it may take you!

• Heather McKendrick is education and training development officer at the Law Society of Scotland.

Welcome, and help us to help you

After many years of hard work and study, the newest Scottish solicitors are today welcomed to the profession. They are now ready to help and advise clients, and deserve wholehearted congratulations for their achievement. They have also earned the right to enjoy a celebration with their families and friends.

Many will have a clear idea of the challenging but rewarding path that lies ahead, whether working in a local firm advising clients in communities across Scotland, working in-house, advising a multi-national company or prosecuting people in the courts. Others will be keen to specialise in a particular area of law – perhaps employment, intellectual property or family law. Some, no doubt, have yet to decide.

Regardless of their preferred career options, our newest members are joining a profession that is respected around the world. And the Society will be there to offer support and guidance throughout their working lives, providing expert advice on professional practice, ethics, training and the rules and guidelines that govern our profession.

Equally, there are many ways for those who have just joined the profession to get involved with the work of the Society. We have an

active ruling Council and a wide range of committees that carry out valuable work to improve various areas of law and legal practice, as well as short-life working groups to consider specific issues.

New lawyers can help others, perhaps students and trainees, by working with our education and training team. Or, if they prefer, they can simply give us their views through the Society’s various social media platforms. It is only by listening to our members that we can be sure to offer the support they need most.

Our newly qualified members represent the future of the profession. They should wear the badge of Scottish solicitor with pride. I wish them every success in their future careers.

• Bruce Beveridge is vice president of the Law Society of Scotland.

Enrolment certificates will be presented to:

Nicola Bain, Theresa Alison Batchelor, Charlotte Elizabeth Booth, Michaela Brown,

Lindsay Davina Frances Bryce, Craig Bryan Callery, Rhona Mary Cameron, Susan Catherine Clyde, Robert Coutts Cranston, Pamela Elizabeth Day, Emma Lucy Donaldson, Rebecca May Gilmour, Hannah Katherine Goldsmith, Jodi Gordon, Selena Graham, David Ross Ward Harris,

Rebecca Jane Henry, Iona Louise Arrol Hunter, Victoria Mary Hyndman, Emma Jardine, Erin Louise Johnston, Fiona Margaret Johnstone, Alasdair Scott Johnstone, Alexandra Jane Keep, Susan Kelly, Alexander James Lamley, Katrina Anne Lindsay, Stuart Johnston MacKenzie, Suzanne Malcolm, Emma McBride, David Lorne McCallum, Mhairi McCallum, Leeanne Helen McCrone, Gemma Leanne McFadyen, Lauren Anne McGonigal, David Riddick McGowan, Helen McHugh, Hazel Aileen McLauchlan, Emily Jean McLaughlin, Kirsty Erin McLean, David James McPherson, Diana Leslie Mennie, Ashley Miriam Mihalic, Jill Evelyn Moffat, Sarah Louise Murdie, Michael James O’Carroll, Alan James Parfery, Robert Murray Pattie, Stewart William Pettigrew, Fraser Donald Moore Rankine, Jane Elizabeth Rattray, Gino Mario Vittorio Rea, Louise Richardson, Deborah Elaine Russell, Clare Marie Scott, Adelle Astra Seaton, Jennifer Trudi Singerman, Ayla Skene, Kelly Moyra Sleight, Gillian Elizabeth Smith, Laura Catherine Smith, Stephanie Nicole Smith, Leigh Alexandra Stockey, Richard Jonathan Templeton, Sarah Frances Thurston, Robin Jonathan Fidler Turnbull, David Welsh, Kristian Yves Whitaker