1. Why did you become a solicitor advocate?
Originally, I wanted to become a lawyer because I enjoyed arguing and debating at school and a teacher suggested it as a career possibility for me. It sounds cliched, but I'm genuinely passionate about advocacy. I enjoy every stage of the role, from researching cases to carefully constructing an argument and then the thrill of presenting that in court.
In the first few years of my career I spent a significant portion of my time travelling across Scotland to conduct proofs and debates in sheriff courts. After instructing counsel from the bar regularly, I eventually reached a point where I realised I could do a lot of the work myself and wanted to stay in my role at Brodies, so it made complete sense to become a solicitor advocate.
2. How has the pandemic affected your work?
Hugely. I think particularly for litigators, the real highlight of our job is being in court and I miss that. I don't just mean the excitement of actually appearing, but discussing the case on the way there, the negotiations that might take place at the doors to court and the opportunity to discuss how the day is going over lunch or a drink with clients afterwards. As much as I appreciate the flexibility of working from home, I can’t wait to get back into courtrooms.
3. What TV or film lawyers do you identify with and why?
Sam Seabourn from the West Wing. He's a real perfectionist, fantastic writer and communicator. More importantly he's an idealist and doesn’t see the law as an end in itself.
4. What is one piece of advice would you give to anyone who is thinking about becoming a solicitor advocate?
They should do it! It has completely transformed my role at Brodies for the better and opened up new possibilities for me. It gives you the ability to either act as counsel yourself in appropriate cases, or as I am increasingly now doing, act as junior counsel to senior counsel at Brodies and at the bar. That in particular has been a great insight for me into how some of the best legal minds in Scotland prepare for and conduct cases.
The course to qualify is quite demanding but at Brodies there is the significant advantage that we have some of the best lawyers in Scotland working in all of the individual specialities that the course covers, who will point you in the right direction in your studies. For example, I found the work in drafting petitions for judicial review challenging as it was a new area of law to me, but colleagues were very generous with their time in helping me.
I would also recommend building up as much experience in sheriff courts from an early stage and taking on as much court drafting work as possible. Most advocates and solicitor advocates whom I know would also be more than happy for you to have a first go at drafting any pleadings or notes in the Court of Session, as a way of developing your skills in written pleadings.