Name: John Geddes
Degree and university: LLB (Hons), Dip LP; University of Aberdeen; First year
Work Title: Trainee Solicitor, Raeburn Christie Clark & Wallace, Aberdeen.
Were you always interested in law as a career sector? No. I wanted to become an accountant until I did Accountancy in sixth year and realised it wasn’t for me. After doing some work experience at my auntie’s law firm in Elgin, I settled on studying law; the clincher was sitting opposite a heroin addict in a court cell and hearing the story of how he had attempted to stab someone with one of his needles. For some reason this totally endeared me to a legal career.
What factors made you decide on your particular university/degree? Once I’d set my sights on becoming a solicitor it was clear that I had to complete a law degree. The law school at Aberdeen is highly regarded, I’m from Aberdeen, and the majority of my friends were staying in the area, so it made sense to go to university here.
Can you describe exactly what you do? It changes from department to department. The advantage of working in a multi-discipline firm is the diversity of work on offer. I’m currently in the Corporate Department and have completed six months in Conveyancing, and have the opportunity to do seats in Commercial Property, Litigation, and Private Client.
Would you undertake further study to help your career progression? I have no plans to go back to university other than to complete the Professional Competency Course (PCC), which is a compulsory element of my traineeship. Five years of university followed by two years vocational training is enough for me!
What do you most like about what you do and are there any downsides? I love the diversity. It’s great getting exposure to such a wide range of legal problems and not being stuck doing the same thing for two years.
I’ve not experienced any major downsides however, in the corporate and commercial departments long hours are not uncommon as the work is generally project based with tight deadlines for demanding clients.
What do you believe you gain personally from your career? Again, the diversity within the profession means that there will always be a new challenge and there should be an area of practise to suit everyone’s tastes. The opportunity to meet various different people from a variety of backgrounds is also interesting.
What qualities do you need to succeed at what you do? You need very good communication skills, both with other professionals and clients, and you must be organised, and be able to manage your time efficiently. Diligence and attention to detail are important, as are having good negotiation skills, and being patient. If you’ve got all that you’ll make an excellent lawyer!
What would be your best piece of advice for people wanting to enter this sector?Do some work experience or an internship in a law firm either before you commence your degree or during it. Having a good academic record is the key to getting a traineeship, but you should never underestimate how important having contacts within the profession can be.