Profile: Serena Sutherland
Serena Sutherland is a recently elected Council member serving the Highlands and Islands
What made you pursue a career as a solicitor?
I decided fairly quickly that university wasn’t for me so I came back home to Orkney and found myself working in a solicitor’s office. When I learned that I could qualify as a solicitor using the pre-diploma traineeship I jumped at the chance, as I was enjoying my work and wanted to advance my career without having to return to university for more than a year.
Why did you decide to stand for Council?
I learned that there was a vacant seat in my area and decided it was a good opportunity to see if I could help represent the views of the legal professionals in my area. Given the geography involved we have unique challenges that I think deserve proper representation.
Have your perceptions of the Society changed since you joined Council?
I have only been a Council member for a few months so it is still very much a learning curve for me at the moment. I was shocked to find out how many Council members and committees there are and how many people are contributing to the work of Council.
What are the main issues that you think Council has to address at the moment?
The main topic of conversation recently has been the outcome of the Independent Review of Legal Services, which I’m sure will be high on the agenda for a long time. Other than that my main focus is on ensuring that the needs of lawyers in the north of Scotland are served as well as possible by the Society.
What’s your top tip for new lawyers?
Hmm, tricky one! I think there is a big difference between studying law at university and practising it in real life, so I would suggest paying attention to the soft skills that you will need to deal with the people you meet in practice and getting as much “real life” experience as you can (both in the legal work and outwith it if possible) before your traineeship, to decide what type of legal practice and what area of work suits you and interests you.
If you could change only one thing for your members, what would it be?
Better CPD for the remoter areas of Scotland including us in the north. It is getting much better with much more content available online or by videoconference, but I would still like to see all the providers of CPD (including the Society) coming to us more.
What keeps you busy outside of work?
I enjoy travelling and catching up with family and friends. And sitting on the sofa with my dog (and my husband of course – in case he is reading this!).