After spending 7 years working as a relationship manager and laterally as a business analyst at an international bank, during which time I studied for my graduate LLB and postgraduate Diploma, I am pleased to say I am two months into my traineeship with Gilson Gray.
Having spent time working for a bank that has grown too large to create a consistent culture, I was eager to learn more about the firm’s unwavering dedication to its culture. In particular, I was interested to see how the firm’s positive culture translated to a positive client experience. From the first induction day, it became clear that the culture is easily implemented and managed because those hired to work here are not only driven and determined but, above all else, approachable and charismatic. In contrast to my previous employer, the culture here is consistent and natural because the firm is collegiate rather than hierarchical. Everything I have mentioned is tested by the client experience which, as you can see elsewhere on the website, is overwhelmingly positive.
I have worked for the last 2 months in the firm’s busy residential conveyancing department. At University, I enjoyed property law but fell out of love with it by the time I had to sit a 5 hour conveyancing exam. Fortunately, in practice, things are more enjoyable: there is a merciful lack of Latin and an abundance of responsibility and client contact. I manage my own caseload under supervision and my cases so far have been picked to test my abilities. My supervising solicitor, Louise McLaren, and head of department, Debbie McCathie, are both always on hand to impart knowledge and test my abilities but they aren’t overbearing. I have been able to work on a number of rewarding transactions where my work has made a positive difference to the clients rather than simply drafting documents and photocopying. In being able to manage conveyancing transactions from start to finish, I have been able to learn quickly, which, as a trainee lawyer, is exactly what I had hoped for.
Out of the office, there is an emphasis on building relationships with colleagues and their respective family members. Every year the firm holds a summer BBQ to which all employees are invited along with their partners, children and pets. My first experience of this annual party came at the end of my first week at the firm and it was great to see how close my colleagues are out of the office. It was also a great opportunity to get to know my new colleagues. In fact, my wife and I were enjoying ourselves so much we ended up being late for a table reservation we booked to celebrate our first wedding anniversary! There is also a weekly 5-a-side game for colleagues, friends, family and clients. The matches are great opportunities to socialise in a more relaxed environment. Another regular at the weekly football is my fellow trainee, Ryan, whose blog is elsewhere on the Gilson Gray website. Before the first game, we both agreed that an industrial tackle on the boss would be a bad career move but, despite our agreement, I neglected to take my own advice. After a potentially career ending tackle (my career as a solicitor), Glen and I got to our feet and played on. My point? Trainees are accepted at the Firm and the expected relationship between those at the top and bottom is eschewed. Entirely.
In addition to the open culture and sound commercial foundations, the most notable aspect of the firm’s culture is its attitude to corporate social responsibility. A week doesn’t go by without a fundraising drive for a range of worthy causes. The most notable to date has been the third annual GRACE banquet which played host to over 300 guests and raised £82,450 for Edinburgh Children’s Hospital Charity and Glasgow Children’s Hospital Charity. More recently, I was part of the 12-person team who abseiled from the Forth Rail Bridge to raise more than £3,000 for Chest, Heart and Stroke Scotland.
Looking back on a busy two months as a trainee at Gilson Gray, I feel as though I have joined the right firm. Professionally, I look forward to my working day and enjoy working for a client-focused firm. Personally, I have met new friends and enjoy being part of a growing firm with a great culture and strong corporate conscience. I am proud to work here and grateful for the opportunity to train here. I urge any commercially astute, approachable and sociable law student or graduate to consider applying for the Gilson Gray summer internship.