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Graduate recruitment

Choices, choices, choices. Throughout your traineeship you will be encouraged to make choices that will define and mould your future career, but how do you make the most important decision of all?

Overview

The application process is now closed

Many thanks to those who have applied for a Traineeship commencing with us in 2022. The application process is now closed and we are reviewing all applications.

We will be touch with successful candidates within the next 2 weeks with an invitation to interview. If you have not been selected for interview, you will also be advised.

People

Take our word for it

From trainees to partners, hear what some of our people have to say about working at Harper Macleod.

Craig McKerracher, Partner, Corporate

Joined 2005

Why did you choose Harper Macleod?

I chose to pursue a career at Harper Macleod whilst at the University of Glasgow.  At the time, Lorne Crerar and Robert Rennie were Professors of Banking and Conveyancing respectively and both of them taught me, so that gave me an insight into the quality of the team at Harper Macleod.  In progressing through the traineeship interview process, I had the opportunity to meet more of the firm’s people, all of whom were friendly and approachable and made me feel that Harper Macleod would be an enjoyable place to work.

How has the firm helped you to develop your career?

The firm is excellent in helping its people develop their careers.  I am a classic example of that.  I progressed from trainee to partner inside 10 years.  That would not have been possible without the excellent training I received during my traineeship and the ongoing professional support I have received throughout my career with the firm.  Furthermore, the firm has given me great levels of responsibility at all stages of my career and exposed me to first hand client relationships which assisted me in cultivating my own practice and created the opportunity for me to be assumed as a Partner in April 2015.

What has been the highlight of your time at Harper Macleod?

It definitely has to be working on the high profile league reconstruction of Scottish football with the merger of The Scottish Premier League and The Scottish Football League to create The Scottish Professional Football League which completed in June 2013.  I am a massive football fan so personally it was really satisfying to be involved in the process.  Given the media coverage, it was interesting to be working on the transaction whilst simultaneously reading the press coverage of the process.  The firm’s reputation in sports law ensured that we were best placed to deal with the transaction.

What would you say to anyone considering a career at Harper Macleod?

The firm encourages you to take on a variety of roles and will support its staff in being innovative in the delivery of legal services or business development.

Harper Macleod is a friendly place to work.  I have never felt at any time that I have been unable to approach a more senior colleague to ask a question regarding something I was unsure of.  In my role as a Partner, I also encourage my more junior colleagues to approach me if I can assist them in taking matters forward.  We have such an open door policy that there are only 4 people with offices in the entire firm!  Everyone knows each other on a first name basis.

The work is high quality and you will have to work hard.  However, Harper Macleod is a place of opportunity and I truly believe there is no glass ceiling.  Whatever your aspirations for your career, the firm will look to reward your contribution to its success by helping you achieve those aspirations.

The firm is a very sociable place.  Anything from drinks on Friday nights after work to a firm-wide party can be going on at any time.  You will come to value those you work with not just as colleagues, but also as good friends.

Five words which describe Harper Macleod and its people:

  1. Entrepreneurial
  2. Friendly
  3. Hard-working
  4. Successful
  5. Ambitious

Scott King, Solicitor, Residential Property

Joined 2019

Harper Macleod was a law firm that I was aware had a strong reputation across a full range of legal services. I was therefore keen to join a firm like Harper Macleod that offered me the chance to specialise in various different areas of law. If I was to describe the firm in 5 words, they would be: innovative;
engaging; friendly; supportive; and challenging

Why did you choose Harper Macleod?

Harper Macleod was a law firm that I was aware had a strong reputation across a full range of legal services. I was therefore keen to join a firm like Harper Macleod that offered me the chance to specialise in various different areas of law. I was also drawn to the Summer Placement that was held over 6 weeks. I believed that this was the best opportunity for me to excel.

What did your summer placement involve?

During my 6-week summer placement I was based in the Corporate department. In my time in the department are carried out various research tasks, attended client meetings and events and was genuinely made to feel part of the team.

How did the placement prepare you for becoming a trainee?

The Summer Placement gives potential trainees a great insight into what working in the firm will be like. It also provides real hands on experience of working on matters and engaging with clients. This is the sort of experience that cannot be replicated in an assessment centre and made my first day as a trainee less daunting.

What advice do you have to people looking for a traineeship?

I would encourage those looking for a traineeship to do your research and make sure to apply to firms that suit your career aspirations, for me Harper Macleod was the perfect fit. Also, students should consider applying for a Summer Placement. For the reasons I have mentioned previously, it is in many ways a mini-traineeship

Challenges you may face as a trainee?

One challenge you may face as a trainee is that of moving seats every 6 months to a new department and a new area of law, but you could also argue that this is an opportunity as it will give you a great insight into what you may or may not like to practice in the future.

What was your highlight as a trainee?

I do not have one particular highlight but I have many – whenever you know you have contributed to getting a positive outcome for a client, this is particularly rewarding.

Describe Harper Macleod and its people in 5 words?

  1. Innovative
  2. Engaging
  3. Friendly
  4. Supportive
  5. Challenging

Deborah Rookes, Senior Solicitor, Employment

Joined 2017

Why did you choose Harper Macleod?

I chose to apply to Harper Macleod due to their reputation as a strong and independent Scottish firm who are proud of their modest roots but eager to grow and expand. Throughout my time at university I had the opportunity to meet with a range of other firms but Harper Macleod really stood out as a friendly and inclusive firm with an atmosphere that I could really envisage myself thriving in. I have always had an interest in business and commercial matters and the idea of Harper Macleod being ‘more than just a law firm’ really appealed to me.

What did your Summer Placement involve?

During my 6-week summer placement I was based primarily within the private client department. This gave me an overview of all aspects of private client work although there was a focus on executory cases. I assisted two of the firm’s solicitors with obtaining Confirmation on a number of executries and conducted a will review to ensure all wills which were held on file were accurate and up to date. I had previously undertaken placements with other firms however my placement with Harper Macleod was different – I really felt that I was being given the chance to be involved in ‘real’ client-facing legal work for the first time.

I also assisted the personal injury department with a complex medical negligence case which involved telephone conversations with the family of a deceased man in order to obtain witness statements from them and details of how his death had affected them. Although initially daunting due to the sensitive subject matter it was really encouraging to know that the firm had such faith in my ability. Following my summer placement, I worked part time in the personal injury department while I completed my degree and diploma and seeing the case come to close almost 2 years later was very rewarding.

What was your highlight during placement?

I really enjoyed the full summer placement with Harper Macleod and I know it sounds clichéd, but I genuinely did not have a bad day. When I started the placement I was not necessarily expecting any hands on client contact but I was lucky enough to be exposed to clients throughout the 6 weeks. I attended client meetings and was asked to make numerous phone calls. Such high levels of client exposure encouraged me further because it allowed me to see the real difference I was having the chance of making to their life. A sad reality of working in a private client department is that you often meet with clients at the hardest times of their lives and it was really rewarding to know that I was easing the burden on our clients at such a hard time.

How did placement prepare you for becoming a Trainee?

Due to the length of the placement and the fact that you are primarily based within 1 department, the summer placement is extremely good preparation for the traineeship. 6 weeks really allows you to get involved in cases and experience communication with individual clients as well as other solicitors and intermediaries. You get to know everyone really well and build professional relationships within the department. In most cases you will be given similar work than that given to a trainee and so the summer placement really is just a mini-traineeship!

What advice do you have to people looking for a Summer Placement?

The most important bit of advice I think I could give anyone considering a traineeship is to be open and willing to give anything a try. Although the undergraduate degree does give you a general idea of what areas you do and don’t like, the reality of real life practice is often very different. Don’t pigeon hole yourself and grasp any opportunity you are offered – this is the best time to try everything and decide what avenue you want to pursue further through your traineeship and the rest of your career!

Perhaps contradictory to what I have just said, I would also recommend that you do your homework and be selective in the firms that you are applying to. Summer placement application processes are time consuming and demanding and it would be almost impossible to apply everywhere with a comprehensive and well-tailored application. The Legal 500 and the Chambers and Partners directories are useful and provide information on which areas certain firms are strongest in. Attend the law fairs and speak to the firms, consider what kind of ethos you will thrive in and consider this when sending out applications. Despite the pressure to get any sort of experience you can, it really does payoff to be selective to a certain degree.

Finally, just try to get involved in everything you can! Take brief notes of tasks you have completed and anything else you have been involved in. This will be invaluable when you reflect on your placement and provides you with talking points during the traineeship recruitment. Say hello to everyone and don’t be scared to ask any questions no matter how stupid they might seem. The placement is an excellent opportunity to get your face known within the firm.

Challenges you may face?

At times, the summer placement can seem as challenging as it is rewarding and with hindsight it is easy to say that you really shouldn’t worry too much about it. Undoubtedly you will make some mistakes – for most people the summer placement is unlike anything they have ever done before and accordingly not everything will go to plan all of the time. It is important that you remember that everyone is in the same boat and even the partners have been where you are now. Almost any mistake can be rectified so long as you are honest about it and ask for help at the earliest possibly opportunity.

How has your Harper Macleod Experience been so far?

I have absolutely loved my time at Harper Macleod so far. I am currently completing a quasi-legal/business development seat within the HM Connect department who run a referral and support network and work closely with high street and rural firms across Scotland. This has been a fantastic opportunity which I was not expecting at all, but one which I am very grateful to have had. Business development is such a key part of every successful solicitor’s career and I think that it is probably something which is overlooked at many other firms.

Due to the nature of the work I am doing at the moment, there are few members of staff within the firm who I have not had some form of communication with and I can genuinely say that I have yet to come across anyone who is difficult to get along with. From day 1 I have truly felt welcomed and part of the team and I could not recommend a career with Harper Macleod any more highly.

Describe Harper Macleod and it’s people in 5 words?

  1. Entrepreneurial
  2. Driven
  3. Inclusive
  4. Exciting
  5. Challenging

Tom Gray, Senior Associate, Energy & Natural Resources

Joined 2015

Why did you choose Harper Macleod?

Harper Macleod advises a unique blend of public sector, private sector and 3rd sector clients and the opportunity to act on behalf of such a diverse range of clients was, and still is, extremely motivating and certainly drew me towards joining HM. HM values ambition and does not shy away from promoting those that deserve it and that forward thinking and progressive mind set also attracted me to apply after qualifying as a solicitor in 2015. The ethos of the firm matched my own, and in fact, from the first interview I knew HM was the right firm.

How has the firm helped you to develop your career?

The firm allows solicitors the space to create their own niche so to speak and actively encourages attendance at a wide range of business development events and speaking opportunities. Having the space to build your own practice is highly rewarding and motivating and allows you to create your own career path within HM. The continued professional support I have received throughout my career with the firm has benefited me greatly and there is always someone available to provide advice or support.

What has been the highlight of your time at Harper Macleod?

One of the highlights of my time at Harper Macleod was working on the Langholm Community Buyout.

The deal involved over 5,200 acres around Langholm in the Scottish Borders. Agreement was reached with Buccleuch Estate to sell the area to the Langholm Initiative in 2021 after a lengthy fundraising campaign. At the centre of plans for the land is the creation of the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve. It is hoped it can help regeneration, tackle climate change and develop outdoor tourism in the area.

Community ownership as well as sustainable land use is a key interest of mine and to be involved in the largest community buy out in Scotland was a unique and utterly rewarding experience.

What would you say to anyone considering a career at Harper Macleod?

If seeking a career in the legal profession then I would highly recommend HM. I have not looked back since joining in 2015 and firmly believe I would not have had the same opportunities to develop my career or knowledge without the support of HM as a firm and those I work with. One particular aspect struck me when looking back at my time with HM and that is flexible working. Flexible working has not been a knee jerk introduction as of the now ominous March of 2020. HM have always considered and attempted to implement such requests across the firm. The ability to work flexibly has allowed me and colleagues to balance family life with work life and I firmly believe it leads to a healthier happier and more efficient workforce. Another aspect which I personally believe is crucial is the transparency of the firm and its management group. For example, each month the firm’s fee reports are shared by the Chief Executive with a review of the performance of the firm as a whole. This eagle eye view of the firm provides a key sense of togetherness and that we are all driving to the same goal.

Describe Harper Macleod and its people in 5 words?

  1. Driven
  2. Ambitious
  3. Tenacious
  4. Welcoming
  5. Leaders
Testimonials

“It is a well-established firm with a great reputation. Many tutors on the diploma are HM solicitors which I think says a lot about the standard of teaching and mentorship available throughout the traineeship. It’s also a great opportunity to gain exposure to many different areas of law through seat rotation.”

– Ewan Forsyth, Trainee 2021

“I wanted to complete a traineeship with a firm that would help me to progress in my career and that had a good workplace culture.”

– Andrew Melville, Trainee 2021

“It is great to be given so many opportunities as a trainee to get involved. The culture is very open and makes me feel like I can progress and suggest my own ideas and that my views are welcome. It was very hard to get to this point so I think it is important to make people feel valued and supported.”

– Antonia Zydek, Trainee 2021

“From initial interview, the people at HM have always been incredibly nice. I haven’t come across anyone yet who is anything other than friendly and willing to give you a helping hand. It seems that most people are genuinely happy in their job. Every team I have been a part of has been kind and supportive and more than happy to make time for me, which is probably more now than it has been previously with WFH. It makes it a pleasant place to work, especially as a new member of staff.”

– Claire Fowler, Trainee 2021

“A great firm with a clear pathway of progression and ethics/morals that are aligned with my own. As well as this on my summer placement everyone was lovely which was an important aspect for me.”

– Molly Morgan, Trainee 2021

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