I applied to study law on my UCAS form when I was 17 as I wasn’t entirely sure what I wanted to do when I grew up – the idea being that law provided a breadth of opportunities that other degrees and career paths did not. As you narrow down subject choices at school and apply for certain courses at university, you are, by necessity, closing off doors and potential career avenues which, as you venture further down a particular path, it becomes increasingly difficult to open again without retraining. Law, for me, closed the minimum amount of doors possible and left my options open.

My exam results at school were solid, if unspectacular. All these things are stepping stones to the next part of your career; I had to go back and look at my higher results as part of writing this as I forgot my grades – it hasn’t been relevant for a while! What becomes apparent early on in university life is that for every “straight A” student, there are others who are behind the leading pack academically but are more worldly-wise due to jobs, experiences, travels or other factors. Never underestimate in a profession like law how important that is. While we provide knowledge and advice, our ability to communicate that to clients is reliant on us being able to identify with them and understand their business. The broader your view of the world and all its moving parts, the wider you’ll be able to cast your net.

I’m now 35 and I’m still not entirely sure what I want to do when I grow up. I would say that my career has been the better for it. Coming from a family business background, I’ve always worked. My mum ran a chain of community pharmacies in Ayrshire and my dad ran a housebuilding company in the same area. I worked in the pharmacies since I was 12/13 years old and qualified as a dispenser, a job I continued until third year of university. Because of that, I’ve always gravitated towards healthcare and life science legal work having seen the impact that good advice can have on people’s businesses, and ultimately, their lives. Never underestimate the ability of lawyers to help their clients and the transformative effect that can have, not only on those clients, but also communities and wider society.

I’ve always found that the best way to get ahead is to put yourself in situations that are outside your comfort zone and with people who challenge your views. That way, you’re guaranteed to learn things. I left my job as a solicitor in 2013 to study business and entrepreneurship in the US for six months alongside 18 other Scots from the private, public, military and third sectors. It gives you an enhanced world view and a renewed confidence to move outside your bubble.

Coming back to Scotland, I founded a biotech company along with some industry veterans to develop a new cancer treatment using a patient’s own cells. That role involved a bit of law but was ultimately a commercial role. We raised money, we employed over 100 staff, we built a manufacturing facility and most importantly, we treated late stage cancer patients across the UK and, laterally, across Europe – hopefully making a difference to their quality of life.

I left the company in 2019 and joined Brodies, primarily because there are a number of other young companies out there who are doing amazing things to improve the health and wellbeing of society. If I can help them on that journey, and that enables them to help more people or treat more patients, then by sharing my expertise and passing on some of the things I’ve learned on the way, I’ll be able to maximise the impact that I can have on our society.

I wrote this blog to illustrate the range of career paths that are out there, particularly for school leavers getting their grades. Don’t view your career path as a relentless pursuit to get to the end destination because, in all likelihood, you’ll be disappointed. Life happens. Things get in the way. Plans change. Opportunities arise. Be flexible enough to take advantage of them and don’t fixate on an end goal – the best part about any path is the journey itself.