Residential property

Fergus Hand

I can’t begin to fathom the idea that in just over 16 months I’ll be able to call myself a solicitor. Reflecting back to the end of S5 at school, when I chose to study law at the University of Aberdeen, the thought of potentially completing a traineeship was a distant goal. The traineeship is the final ‘hurdle’ before qualification in September 2018, having already completed a 4 year undergraduate degree and a 1 year postgraduate degree.

I now find myself 8 months into my traineeship after having spent the first 6 in the Housebuilder department. Personally, I prefer a hands-on approach to learning and this was a great department for me to commence my traineeship due to its fast-paced transactional nature, whereby I was involved, often on my own, with transactions from start to finish. I was given a large amount of responsibility within the department and after a couple of weeks I was communicating with clients and solicitors on the other side of the deal on a daily basis. Initially, I found this to be quite high pressured, but the more experience I had interacting with clients the less intimidating and more natural it became.

I have now moved on to my second seat with Litigation. It was a strange moment moving departments as I had been with Housebuilder from the start of my traineeship and had enjoyed working with the individuals in this department. I definitely had mixed emotions when the time came to move, albeit I was also keen to try something completely different and that is exactly what I have found so far in my new seat. While I think it would be unrealistic to try and portray a “typical day in the life”, I can definitely describe my most memorable day so far since I started in Litigation - my first appearance in court - which occurred only a month ago!

The pre-requisite university Diploma in Professional Legal Practice is a course designed to prepare you for the practical aspects of a legal traineeship. The diploma unquestionably helped to develop my core skills but standing up in court, in front of a real sheriff, was always going to be more intimidating than doing a ‘mock proof’ in a university classroom in front of friends. On the day of my appearance I left the office to attend Edinburgh Sheriff Court; having had the chance to review my notes with colleagues the day before. I walked up to where my case was being heard and soon after I was called into the court room along with the other parties who were scheduled to appear that day. I was fortunate in that my case was one of the later ones to be called meaning I had a bit of time to compose myself and look over my notes. I ended up being the second last case to call and so the court room went from being busy at the beginning to just the sheriff, the mediation representative and two other parties when it was my turn to appear. This made the experience less daunting even though it had no practical effect on what I actually had to do. My case was finally called and before I knew it and much to my relief, I was walking out the courtroom with the result I had been looking for.

There is so much more I could say about Gillespie Macandrew because I have been lucky to enjoy a number of opportunities both professionally and socially. These range from having the opportunity to attend a debt recovery day with a group of Sheriff Officers to representing the firm in a 5s football league. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a trainee at Gillespie Macandrew so far and feel extremely fortunate to have found a firm that offers so much.

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