Profile: Caroline Court
Caroline Court is a commercial property partner with Davidson Chalmers, and “star” of the Lawscot Foundation's Baublefest 2018
Tell us a bit about your career so far?
My early career was spent with a small general practice firm in Edinburgh where I was a partner for 15 years. In 1997 I moved to Davidson Chalmers to concentrate on commercial property work. Since then I’ve been a partner dealing mostly with property development and housebuilding work. I feel I’ve had the best of both worlds at Davidson Chalmers – working within a friendly commercial firm where we all know each other, but able to deal with a range of work and clients which would rival many larger firms.
What motivated you to study law?
My initial ambition after leaving school was to become a chartered accountant and, at the time, getting a law degree was one of the routes into that. However in those days before the diploma was introduced, I realised that embarking on a law apprenticeship, with no further need to study for accountancy exams, was a much more attractive option!
What do you consider the highlights of being a Scottish solicitor?
It will be different for others, but for me it is the wide variety of work which I’ve been able to be involved with. Our team acts for clients who develop property and build houses, dealing with a huge range of matters which can often prove critical to the success or failure of their projects. I get a lot of satisfaction acting as a trusted adviser to clients, helping them overcome some of the challenges in bringing their plans to fruition and supporting their business.
Why did you choose to support the Lawscot Foundation in last year’s Baublefest?
I’m aware that it is much more difficult for students to cope with the costs of a four year university course and the additional diploma year compared to how things were when I studied law in the 1970s, when grants and other forms of financial support were much more readily available. I also think the Foundation’s aim of promoting greater diversity within the legal profession is important if it is to thrive.
What do you see as the main issues for new lawyers?
It is much easier to get into the profession if your family background provides not only the necessary financial support, but also the confidence to go for it. so I’m pleased to see the Foundation has been created to enable the Society to address this issue and provide support where it’s needed.
While I feel Davidson Chalmers has been progressive in the area of flexible working, I also feel we need to strike a better work/life balance across the profession. Claims are frequently made about the availability of flexible and part time working particularly for working mothers, but the reality is often different, and expectations in terms of working hours and stress levels remain excessive in many firms.
I am also concerned that with the profession comprising fewer, larger firms, we are losing the ability to produce solicitors who have strong all round experience, and are able to advise clients on a range of problems. It may be that nowadays such skills are more likely to be found in an in-house solicitor.
What’s your top tip for new lawyers?
I would advise trainees to work hard and make the most of their two years, as it may be the only opportunity to get experience in particular areas. This will all prove beneficial later in their career, regardless of whether or not they pursue a specialist route.
Why should people choose to support the Lawscot Foundation this December?
Promoting diversity and enabling the best talent to thrive in a legal career is not only morally sound, it also makes good business sense as our profession is in a battle with many other sectors to attract the best people. There are exceptional individuals across Scotland from less advantaged backgrounds who can excel as lawyers. Support from the Foundation can be the determining factor in helping someone overcome financial issues and other challenges that could otherwise halt this great potential in its tracks.
I would urge everyone in the legal profession to do something to support the Foundation. Even a small financial donation can make a real difference in the great work they’ve been doing over the last two years.
What do you have planned for the festive season?
My festive routine is an enjoyable trip to Sutherland with my husband, son and daughter to see family.