My route to becoming a lawyer was not the most conventional, I grew up on a family farm near Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, so I was initially drawn to subjects with a rural or agricultural focus.
Having studied law at the University of Aberdeen for four years I decided to take some time out and go travelling a time that I found incredibly enlightening. I met people from all walks of life and did things I never thought I'd do. Having that time really did make clear to me what I wanted to do in life. And so, when I returned home in early 2015, I set about pursuing a career in law.
Make every experience count
I decided that the best way to land a traineeship (and before committing to the diploma in professional legal practice) was to gain some practical experience. I got a job at an Aberdeen based offshore service company, working in tenders and marketing, this was my first real life experience with a commercial contract. It gave me the motivation I needed to apply to do the diploma, where I developed the core skills needed to be a lawyer: communication, analysis, and attention to detail.
The following year I started my diploma which brought the challenge of securing a traineeship in a law firm for the following year at the same time as studying. I'd previously completed numerous traineeship applications, and had come close with one firm after taking part in their summer placement programme, but nothing had come to fruition. Hearing my diploma peers discuss their training firms was sometimes disheartening and I would question if I was good enough, but my advice to any budding lawyer is to stick with it. What's for you, won't go by you. And when I got chatting to Wendy Murphy, graduate engagement manager at Brodies, at a university career fair I was hopeful that there might be something there. There was.
I was delighted when I secured a position at the firm and knew in myself that this was the route for me, it had been worth the wait.
Explore new opportunities
A year later it was D-day. Day one of the traineeship. My first seat was with the real estate team which I really enjoyed. When doing a seat in oil & gas became an option for seat 2, I jumped at the chance. This gave me the opportunity to see the industry from another perspective: that of a private practice lawyer. I was lucky enough to spend time on secondment to CNR International, working closely with the client on a variety of matters. My traineeship culminated in securing a newly qualified position within energy & infrastructure at Brodies in the Aberdeen office.
Keep one eye on the future
My first year since qualification has been one to remember. Our clients have remained resilient during the global pandemic and have continued to trust us. Some of the highlights include advising a client in an acquisition with a complex decommissioning aspect, and more recently supporting a supermajor in its divestment of a large package of North Sea assets.
People sometimes ask me why I chose to join the oil & gas sector. My answer is: opportunity.
The sector is at a critical turning point. The time for energy transition is now. The idea of being part of this transition, in a region at the centre of the energy industry, excites me. We are instructed on a variety of projects including corporate deals allowing the non-traditional players to diversify their portfolios.
Having the right assets in the right hands will determine the viability of energy transition projects in the UK. Indeed, we are now seeing clients planning for decommissioning in the context of the transition; assessing their infrastructure and its viability for being repurposed for alternative energies such as hydrogen and carbon capture and storage. This is only set to continue over decades to come and clients will always need the support of lawyers to guide them.
This article first appeared in the Press and Journal.