The current Scottish market presents great opportunities for Australian lawyers looking to shake up their career path, according to an Edinburgh-based senior associate.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Pinsent Masons senior associate Louisa Wallace said an increase in work across certain sectors, such as energy, infrastructure, financial services, manufacturing, technology and real estate, is demanding more “good quality lawyers”.
Ms Wallace has undertaken work in both Sydney and Edinburgh throughout her legal career and is well aware of the opportunities that both cities offer foreign lawyers.
“Having spent two years working in Sydney, some of that time with Pinsent Masons’ Sydney office, and seeing other colleagues move around the firm's network, it is clear that there is mobility between these jurisdictions,” she said.
“In fact, it has been a huge benefit to me to experience working from a different office of Pinsent Masons, to see how the firm works with its client base across different jurisdictions, and to work with some of the same global clients across jurisdictions, and to bring certain specialist insight from one jurisdiction to another.
“Edinburgh is an important UK business centre with many global companies counting it as one of their key hubs. You benefit from great quality of work in a thriving city that offers a different pace of life to other financial centres. You may also gain experience of working in teams, such as renewable energy, which are market leading.”
However, those Aussie lawyers who have their eyes on Scotland need to understand the differences and similarities between the two jurisdictions, according to Ms Wallace.
“Of course establishing yourself in a new market can be daunting, and this is a competitive market. Scots law is different from English law (which is similar to Australian law) so there will be technical differences, and possibly a requirement to re-qualify,” she said.
“In both jurisdictions I've worked with very friendly, down to earth and good humoured colleagues and clients. That helped me integrate with teams very quickly and bed into new markets and areas.”
In terms of trends playing out in the Scottish market in comparison to the Australian market, Ms Wallace suggests they’re much for much when it comes to the focus firms are placing on innovation and technology.
“The evolving function of technology is a game changer for law firms,” she said.
“As clients increasingly crave fresh ideas to prompt a more streamlined and efficient way of executing deals and disputes, it's down to us as lawyers to innovative and respond to this agenda.”
Although, Ms Wallace noted that one of the key trends unveiling in Scotland at the moment is the aftermath of the UK’s vote to leave the EU.
"One of the key challenges for UK businesses at present is negotiating the complex web of issues arising out of the UK's vote to leave the EU," she said.
"In response, the firm has rolled out an AI-powered commercial contracts solution to support clients grappling with the challenges posed by Brexit. The firm has developed a three-step tool to help clients identify risk in existing portfolios, address Brexit risk in future contracts and surface any business-critical supply chain risk.”
All in all, if Aussie lawyers do want to take up an opportunity in Scotland, Ms Wallace has some sound advice.
“While it is a big step, there are benefits in personal and professional terms of experiencing life and work in a different country,” she said.
“Edinburgh is an incredible city with a lot to offer both in terms of quality of work and a vibrant social scene, and is a different experience from London – you can easily live within walking distance of work, and be outside the city to explore the outdoors in no time.
“But maybe time your arrival for summer to enjoy the long hours of daylight before the Scottish winter sets in! Edinburgh's location is great if you’re keen to explore the UK and the rest of Europe.”