Next up from the Society's senior leadership team is Liz Campbell, executive director of education, training and qualifications
Tell us about your career so far…
I graduated with a degree in History and English Literature without much of a career plan, but a notion that I would like to work in publishing. When that part formed ambition didn’t come to fruition, I moved to Edinburgh to undertake a postgraduate Diploma course, and after completion started work at Edinburgh University dealing with undergraduate admissions. My next move was to the Scottish Institute of Adult & Continuing Education where I had a varied role dealing with publications, policy work, committees and events.
Why did you decide to join the Society?
I was looking for a move from my previous job and saw an advert for a ”Conference Secretary” at the Law Society of Scotland. The remit looked interesting – principally organising a residential annual conference and a PQLE (as CPD was known at the time) programme. I must have done something right at interview, as I was offered the post!
Have your perceptions of the Society changed since you started?
I had few preconceptions about the Society before I started, as I knew very little about it (and even said so at interview, something I wouldn’t recommend to job seekers now!). When I started work here in 1990, it was a much smaller organisation (around 60 staff, in comparison to approximately 130 strong colleagues I am lucky enough to work with today). In many ways, there was more of an old fashioned and formal approach than there is now. But through the years, I’ve seen major changes in the way we work, in our interaction with the profession, in embracing technology and innovation and, most recently, in the move from our old townhouse offices to a modern open plan office.
What have been the highlights for you personally?
The opportunity to work with so many committed, innovative and inspirational people, both colleagues and members of the profession is definitely one of my highlights. I have the privilege of leading a fantastic team and working closely with my senior leadership team colleagues. I take immense pride in the work of my team and the innovative approach they take to their roles. It seems unfair to single out one initiative, but our Street Law programme continues to expand and thrive.
I’ve also had the opportunity to change roles several times and to take on greater responsibility and new challenges over the years. The most recent highlight has been involvement in setting up the Lawscot Foundation which will provide financial and mentoring assistance to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds on the route to qualification as a solicitor.
What are the main issues that you think the Society/your department has to address at the moment?
In previous profiles my senior leadership colleagues have referred to the negative impact of the 1980 Act and the restrictions it places on opening membership up to paralegals and solicitors’ staff.
There are specific education and training issues around the need to ensure that the accredited route to qualification keeps pace with the changing nature of law and the legal profession, developing viable alternative routes to qualification for those unable to follow the degree/Diploma/traineeship route, and the need to manage student expectations about availability of traineeships.
What has been the most surprising aspect of your work at the Society?
The sheer variety of it! No two days are the same and there is always an interesting new project to get my teeth into. When I consider how long I’ve worked here, it is a surprise as it never feels like 26 years.
What are you most looking forward to as part of the Society’s Leading Legal Excellence strategy?
Helping students from low income backgrounds to qualify as solicitors through the Lawscot Foundation and thereby helping to assure the future diversity of the profession and the potential of developing qualifications to support new membership categories. This area of work is a new direction for the Society, and a new challenge for the Education, Training & Qualifications team.
What’s your top tip for new lawyers?
Keep balance in your lives – maintain your friendships and your interests outside work, seek help and guidance when you need it and consider becoming involved with your professional body.
If you could change only one thing for members, what would it be?
Greater respect for and understanding of the vital role that solicitors play in society. There is far too much ill-informed criticism.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
My network of family and friends; reading an eclectic mix of fiction and non-fiction; walking; travel and, recently, trying to learn Italian.