Glasgow & Strathkelvin Council member Anne Macdonald has a working life that gives her an unusual range of contacts with the profession
What made you pursue a career as a solicitor?
My late grandfather was an elder in the Free Presbyterian Church and always spoke so highly of his friend and fellow elder, Lord Mackay of Clashfern. I remember from a very young age thinking what a gentleman Lord Mackay is and how proud my grandfather was to spend time with a man of such humility, presence, courage and true sense of fairness. My father however, will tell you, it’s because I always "get the last word"…
Why did you decide to stand for Council?
I have chosen a somewhat alternative legal career, in that for the last eight years I have not worked on actual client files: instead during this time I launched and now manage the HM Connect network. As such, every day I engage with solicitors on a non-transactional basis and the stories, knowledge shared and wisdom from each, make me proud of the profession.
I feel that the combination of my role as a partner in a large firm, together with the HM Connect network, afford me a balanced view of the profession. It is a time of great change politically, the Scottish legal marketplace is evolving at a rapid pace and there has been a huge increase in legal services being provided by the accountancy firms – all of this makes for a very exciting time to be on Council.
Have your perceptions of the Society changed since you joined Council?
I have definitely been surprised at the breadth of matters the Council discusses, and very impressed by the wide ranging expertise of the Society personnel who provide reports to Council. It also has to be said that the Society is an extremely high functioning and aligned organisation that is delivering on its strategy. I did not realise how vast the Society was prior to joining.
What have been the highlights for you personally?
I have very much enjoyed meeting all of my fellow Council members, and in particular the lay members who provide great insight to debates at meetings. For me, the commitment and work of the Society really showed through at our June Council meeting, on the morning after the EU referendum. We all arrived to the meeting with rather bemused faces; however Eilidh and the team had already been up all night awaiting and discussing the outcome, had met to discuss key messages from the Society to its members and had looked at key points for discussion at the Council meeting… all before 9am.
What are the main issues that you think Council has to address at the moment?
I think the continued, open and frank dialogue around legal aid is extremely important. Access to justice and a plethora of extremely talented and committed lawyers are being affected by the continued erosion of legal aid. We also need to address how we can regain ground lost to English firms who have had the ability to provide ABS models for over four years.
What has been the most surprising aspect of your work as a Council member?
I had not realised the breadth of decisions that require to be made or contributed to as part of Council. I am definitely "learning on the job" and am very grateful to the more seasoned members of Council for their extremely sensible and valued input to discussions.
What are you most looking forward to as part of the Society’s new strategy?
It will be exciting to see the growth in membership, including categories like the student associates. Wider membership will help to bring new perspectives to the Society and ensure we have a modern demographic.
What’s your top tip for new lawyers?
For me it's all about creating personal networks and your own brand within your firm and with business associates. Therefore I'd encourage all new lawyers to get involved with as many initiatives as they can within their own firm, whether it be charitable events, social committees or taking the lead on ideas for new publications or blogs.
If you could change only one thing for your members, what would it be?
I would like to see the public perception of lawyers change. There seems to be a constant race to the bottom for fees, and key services provided by lawyers do not appear to be respected by some.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
I have just finished an 18 month renovation of an old farmhouse where my partner and I got married last month. We're now about to welcome our first cows to the farm, so between that and my two year old son running rings around me, I just enjoy wine and sleeping…