Today marks my one year anniversary as an assistant solicitor in the Debt Recovery team at Gilson Gray. The year has been full of challenges, new experiences and moments outside of my comfort zone, but one where I have undoubtedly progressed in my chosen field thanks to the unfaltering support of the firm.
I trained at a small Edinburgh legal firm gaining experience in both real estate and litigation. Whilst in the litigation department I often appeared in court on behalf of Gilson Gray. The volume of instructions was surprising. At the end of my traineeship when the opportunity to work with one of Scotland’s top tier debt recovery teams arose, I would have been mad not to go for it; the match was just right.
The transition from my training firm to Gilson Gray was seamless. There were systems in place to support my induction at every step of the way. All I had to worry about was remembering the names of the 80+ staff between the Edinburgh and Glasgow offices. The support was greatly appreciated as all too often NQs can find themselves thrown into the deep end.
At the outset my experience of debt recovery (outside of enforcement) was fairly limited. Coinciding with the introduction of the (sometimes not so) Simple Procedure rules in 2016, a steep learning curve ensued.
In practice my workload is predominately volume based. I handle large caseloads from the raising of court actions all the way to the enforcement of decrees. I attend procedural court hearings as and when required. I have been learning about landlord and tenant work, particularly with the introduction of the Private Housing (Tenancies) (Scotland) Act 2016 and the move from raising heritable possession actions in Sheriff Court to the First-tier Tribunal for Scotland (Housing and Property Chamber). That has been an eye-opener.
Whilst intensive, this has been the most rewarding year of my legal career to date in terms of practical experience. The guidance and encouragement from colleagues (and in particular the Head of Department, David Alexander and Gayle Stewart) has been invaluable.
A personal highlight of the year would be attending the Law Awards of Scotland 2017 as part of the nominated Debt Recovery Team of the year (and not just because David bought me a tux for the occasion). Having only been with the firm for just over 10 months I consider this a real honour. I am confident that our team will come out on top when the next set of awards rolls around.
My key observation throughout the year would be the firm’s resolute commitment to creating and maintaining a positive brand and culture. Culture is weaved into every aspect of the working day at my firm. Many painstaking hours have been spent creating the firm’s long term vision along with individual values to follow, and objectives to complete, which will in turn help us to achieve said vision. For example one of those values is that “people matter”. With this in mind, the firm has encouraged each and every staff member to share their cultural ideas with the board. This was displayed during our off-site staff away day back in November where through a series of planned events the cultural views of all were explored. As a direct result of this, new management practices have been put into place off the back of those ideas which will in turn help us achieve our objectives and ultimately our values. In essence, the management steer has, in some way, been passed from the boardroom and placed in the hands of the workforce. Not only am I impressed at the commitment to brand identity this shows, but I have been left with a sense of value and belonging as a result.