Stage of traineeship: First year
Why did you choose Harper Macleod?
Like many other students, I experienced a range of firm contacts and presentations while at university, and Harper Macleod stood out in terms of the dialogue that their people were prepared to have with potential trainees and the enthusiasm they displayed for their work and opportunities. There was a genuine sense that this company was friendly and encouraging, took a serious interest in developing new recruits, and involved them in rewarding projects from an early stage.
I was also enticed by the fact that Harper Macleod thrived during the recession, when many other well-known firms experienced difficulties that affected staffing and the work environment. To me, this is because Harper Macleod was focused on both client service and employee development and wellbeing. I felt that there was scope here to make a valued contribution and to learn from colleagues and partners who were prepared to mentor and encourage new arrivals.
What does your working week involve?
I am currently on secondment to the Scottish Government Legal Directorate. This has been a terrific development that I didn’t anticipate, even for a trainee at Harper Macleod. I work in the Constitutional and Civil Law Division, and was involved in a wide variety of work from the outset. Each day presents challenges and new insights, although my core work involves advising policy colleagues on a range of legal matters, including property law and succession, for example.
I was enticed by the fact that Harper Macleod thrived during the recession, when many other well-known firms experienced difficulties that affected staffing and the work environment. To me, this is because Harper Macleod was focused on both client service and employee development and wellbeing. Leigh Beirne
What has been your best experience at Harper Macleod so far?
The transition from student to employee was relatively smooth, with valuable opportunities to connect with people across the firm who were sincere and genuinely keen to share the benefits of their experience and insight. My first seat was in dispute resolution in Edinburgh, which allowed me to become involved with some high profile cases that were being litigated in the Court of Session. This gave me a firm platform for subsequent work, especially the secondment to the Scottish Government, boosting my confidence and helping me to believe that I had something constructive to offer. The sense of being part of a supportive group made a real difference, and the chance to represent the firm via the secondment demonstrated the confidence that Harper Macleod shows in trainees.
Have you overcome any particular challenges during your traineeship?
Although I had some prior experience of working for legal firms during holiday periods and placements, moving to Harper Macleod was a step up in terms of size and range of activity. It was initially quite a challenge to adapt to the everyday operations, especially the various computer and case management systems. However, with the friendly support available, I quickly found my feet. Trainees are given a significant amount of responsibility, and this can seem quite daunting. It can also demand major investments of time and energy. The benefits though are considerable. Trainees are encouraged to liaise with clients, appear in court and become involved with some prominent case work. While expected to take responsibility and act independently, there is a strong support system and, as a trainee, I never felt any question was too silly to ask.
Five words which describe Harper Macleod and its people: