Our profile highlights Naomi Pryde, Council member representing Scottish solicitors practising in England & Wales
What made you pursue a career as a solicitor?
I have wanted to be a solicitor since I was eight years old. I can’t really recall why. It seems odd that I was so determined to become one because I didn't know any lawyers growing up. I also wanted to be a part-time actress, live on a farm full of horses and dogs and be an author. Out of all of those careers paths law is definitely the one I’m the most suited to! I particularly like the client facing and problem solving elements of my job.
Why did you decide to stand for Council?
On moving to practise in England & Wales there were a few things that I thought could be improved for Scottish lawyers working there. I was discussing these at an event and a couple of people said that I should run for Council. I’m a bit of a “do-er” and so I thought rather than talk about the things that could be better, why not get involved to make them better.
Have your perceptions of the Society changed since you joined Council?
Very much so. I didn’t realise how much the Society does for, and offers, members. I've been impressed at how forward thinking and approachable the Society, particularly the office bearers, are.
What have been the highlights for you personally?
One of the main highlights for me was when Lorna Jack (CEO), Christine McLintock (President) and Eilidh Wiseman (Vice President) came down to England & Wales to engage with members here. We had a number of meetings with members, and we met with the Society of Scottish Lawyers in London (I also sit on the committee). The Society is committed to helping its members prosper south of the border, something I’m delighted to be a part of.
Sitting on a Law Society of Scotland panel with some very high profile lawyers in London regarding gender equality was also a real highlight for me. I’m passionate about gender equality and about helping to make the profession a better profession for women, as well as for other underrepresented groups. It feels a special time to be a part of the Society. The three main board members are all inspirational woman who are genuine role models for young women entering the profession. I feel privileged to be a part of the Society's Council during such a crucial time for the Society, which has an ambitious five-year and longer-term strategy.
What are the main issues you think Council has to address at the moment?
There are a number of issues that the Council has to address, and indeed is addressing. One of these is the need to look at how we can best support in-house lawyers – nearly a third of members are in-house, and more and more lawyers are turning to in-house roles, for reasons of work-life balance, but also due to the changing nature of the way that large companies procure legal services.
What has been the most surprising aspect of your work as a Council member?
Probably how keen members are to engage with the Society outside of Scotland, and how supportive and committed the Society is to supporting those members. England & Wales has its own head of member engagement, Chantel Gaber, who is a real asset to the Society and a great support for members; we have generated excellent feedback from our events and newsletters and indeed the England & Wales newsletter is one of the most read publications.
What’s your top tip for new lawyers?
Find out the client's objective (and means!) in order to work out the best option for them, and keep analysing the cost versus benefit as the matter progresses. Working as a partner to the client’s business and having a real understanding of their commercial focus and priorities is an often neglected part of client care – and it really matters.
If you could change only one thing for your members, what would it be?
I would make it possible for Scottish members to qualify as solicitors in England & Wales via a “time served” means, in addition to the current exam system. For example, if a solicitor of a certain number of years qualified in Scotland (say three), were to move to England and practise English law for two years, I would like it to be possible for their firm to sign them off as a solicitor (provided they have completed the necessary competencies, of course) without them having to undergo the current examination system. The current qualification process is what I receive the most complaints and queries about, and it seems a cumbersome, expensive and unnecessary procedure. I believe the current system is in desperate need of reform for Scottish solicitors.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
I’m currently training for the London marathon (in April 2016), so that is keeping me pretty busy!