Janet Rieu-Clarke is the Society’s accredited paralegal and the newest member of the Professional Practice team
Tell us about your career so far
I completed my BA in Law at Napier University in 2008 and soon after, started working as a Paralegal on the Isle of Bute. I then moved to Drummond Miller in Glasgow before relocating to England to work as a legal executive. When I moved back to Scotland, I worked briefly for Miller Hendry before joining Optima Legal in Glasgow and then Ennova Law in Edinburgh. So I think it’s fair to say that I racked up a fair amount of private practice experience, before joining the Society earlier this year.
What is your role in the Society?
I am an accredited paralegal in the Society‘s Professional Practice team. This role involves assisting on the professional practice helpline for solicitors, and now also for accredited paralegals. We provide guidance on ethical issues and practice matters and I will also be working to promote awareness of the new Accredited Paralegal Status to firms, educational bodies and paralegals themselves. I am really looking forward to this opportunity to contribute to such an important initiative, helping the Society’s efforts to positively influence the future of the paralegal status.
Have your perceptions of the Society changed?
Absolutely. As a paralegal, I didn’t strongly identify myself as part of the Society and viewed it purely as a regulatory body for solicitors. That all changed very quickly when I joined the team and I was amazed at the variety of areas the Society gets involved in, from the Education & Training programmes, to the Lawscot Foundation and Streetlaw project, to the work we are currently doing to promote the Accredited Paralegal Status. There is some brilliant stuff going on and I am really keen to help raise awareness of the good work we do, for young people, the profession and future of the legal community. And to top it all, my colleagues are all very friendly and welcoming, which when you’re new, is very important!
What have been the highlights for you personally?
There have been so many in such a short time, it’s hard to choose, but being involved in the marketing and launch of the new Accredited Paralegal Status has been a real highlight, and giving the address to the paralegals at the recent Central Law Training (CLT) paralegal graduation was also tremendous. It is great to be able to promote something in which I believe so strongly and my advice to paralegals out there, please join us. Get in touch if you need any advice and we can talk you through your options.
What are the main issues that you think paralegals have to address at the moment?
One of the main issues affecting paralegals is the lack of understanding and awareness of our role and the important part we play in the legal community. The new Accredited Paralegal Status is one initiative we are using to address the issue, and with the promotion and engagement activities surrounding it we are confident that we will see a positive shift in attitude and awareness. We want people to hear the term “accredited paralegal” and understand immediately what it means, just like you do when you hear the term “solicitor”.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
Outside of work my family and friends keep me occupied, as I have numerous nieces, nephews and godchildren to entertain. I enjoy reading, Sauvignon blanc and chocolate…generally all together! And I am a secret motorsport fan from F1 through to World Rally Championship and can be found at least one weekend a month at some event, either as a spectator or as crew/groupie to support my friend who is a rally driver. I also love my holidays, usually around Scotland or in the USA.