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The Alternative Traineeship Search : A Dream too far ?

Finally, after a rather manic fortnight, there is now time for reflection and assessing feedback.

I have, over the past 2 weeks, met with 84 lawyers submitted 107 CVs with firm-specific covering letters and details pertaining to my roadtrip, and I have been afforded interviews directly as a result of this, but, as of yet, the holy grail of a traineeship still evades me. 

Before I continue, I’ll share about more about the geographical coverage made:

Day 1: 12 lawyers in total –  Wick and Inverness– I met with 4 firms in Wick (including Sylvia at Inksters the newest firm in the area, I shall almost forgive them for the mandatory hat picture which drew some funny stares from Wick High Street); Georgesons, BBM (A lovely, bright, welcoming reception) andYoung Roberston.. (I also made it to John O’ Groats, always going that extra mile for a photo op!)

Inverness had me meeting with 8 companies in a rather short space of time so (observing the speed limit the whole way obviously!) I made it around the highlands in record time, starting with Innes  and Mackay where Lisa was the perfect highland hostess and ending my time here by meeting with the partners at Torquil Mcleod and co. I should also include a massive thank you to the Staff at the Norseman hotel for the amazing room and fantastic food!

Day 2: 14 Lawyers in totalElgin and Aberdeen– This was the day for “young blood lawyers” a lovely coffee with Matty O’neill of Cruickshanks and Ian Maltman of ABM, followed by 5 more appointments and CV deliveries prior to heading to the Granite city (where my first appointment made it mandatory that I brought cakes.. sadly word got around and this was a common request subsequently.. Again very fortunate with a cracking hotel and great eateries(I needed to look after my energy levels!) In Aberdeen I was very well received from  new firms (Mubasher Choudry was amazing!) right up to well-established players like Stronachs

Day 3 – 13 lawyers in total – Dundee, Perth, Falkirk –  This was the day I finally got to meet the guys at Scottish legal news, who have been great supporters of mine throughout the journey and gave me caffeine to prepare for the day ahead.  7 appointments in Dundee, 3 in Perth and 1 in Falkirk (cakes were again MANDATORY before I could cross the door at Tait Macleod)

Day 4 – 12 Lawyers in total – Kilmarnock, Ayr, Girvan, Newton Stewart, Wigtown. I commenced this day seeing an old uni friend of mine who is now a criminal law associate. This certainly gave me a great sense of pride in her achievement but also spurred me on,  her love of the law is evident; the irony being that at uni she hated criminal law! On my Girvan travels, I was approached by the Carrick gazette who ran a feature on my adventure and I am much obliged to Harriet for this, all the support has been much appreciated from press agencies whether they be local or national!

DAY 5 – Glasgow 11 lawyers seen – As a result of being back in the central belt, I was able to follow up appointments with those who had approached me about my journey and who were all in a slightly more feasible area geographically! I also, as a result of TWEETBYFEET, had the chance to network with folk who had been following my progress and who wanted to meet me simply to put a character to the twitter-holic!

Since the conclusion of the first week I have met an additional 21 lawyers in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee who were additional to my confirmed roadtrip apppointments but who all afforded me time, caffeine and advice in relation to the great search….

Initially this was a tongue-in-cheek suggestion over twitter which, upon reflection, has probably been one of the greatest networking exercises I will ever undertake..

I met with 80+ lawyers from all walks of life and in all areas of law and now it’s time to be honest..As a student idealist, I always thought I would do court work, wear a gown, and live the stereotype.  Very few people end up practicing what they think they will practice when at university.  The majority of lawyers have taken to alternative specialisms and now cannot envisage doing anything else.  The reality, A TRAINEESHIP IS A TRAINEESHIP… I have to be adaptable, and I realise that.

The importance of this cannot be emphasised enough… that said, it is important that the fit between the trainee and the firm is right.. it has to be a mutually beneficial relationship, one where you learn, grow and reflect the ethos of the firm.

So, after a week of self-brand promoting, marketing and networking with some of the best lawyers across Scotland, what have I learned? (apart from NOT buying petrol anywhere north of Inverness!)

Set yourself apart… for better or worse, my journey got people talking..  This was more than a geographical endeavor.. Every step, every meeting, every CV handed in represents my  hope, passion and determination..

I am my own harshest critic, I never do anything half-heartedly and I am extremely proud of what I achieved during this time, only time will tell what comes of this but NO firm can ever doubt by commitment to law.

S what now? Well my gran always said I was “a waste of an arse” so I’ll not sit still for long… Maybe my next trip will be Wick to Wiggan (or Wisconsin if needs be!) one thing I do know though, this dream is one i’ll always pursue!

After all, what’s 1400 miles in the search for a dream job?!



 Does Passion know no bounds when it comes to pursuing your dream career?


This is something I have had to consider a lot lately as I embark upon my 1000 mile search for a traineeship.


I have agreed holidays with my employers and, with petrol in my car, tailored CV packs and some articles pertaining to the “girl behind the drive” in 72 hours, I begin the journey.


I am driving from Wick to Wigtown in a bid to meet as lawyers as I can, in an endeavour to market myself as a dynamic, determined law graduate who will stop at nothing to attain her dream.


In planning my journey I have called ahead making appointments with partners along my allotted route and asking to hand in CVs to those firms where, for one reason or another, the partners are unable to meet me as I pass through. At present, I have 56 confirmed appointments all detailed on a spreadsheet with others to be followed up and called as advised.


I will also attend the courts in each of the cities with time allocated to meeting lawyers there who cannot spare me time at the office due to scheduling commitments but who are willing to meet me in spare time between clients.


This idea has gained a lot of publicity from legal commentators, students, graduates and practicing lawyers and I am very grateful for the RTs, endorsements, promotion and well wishes that have been sent.


I have included feedback requests in my CV packs in the hope that any feedback offered can be used to sculpt me into the kind of lawyer that firms would relish having join them.


I will be blogging and tweeting regularly as I travel the lengths and breadths of Scotland and I cannot wait to get this adventure underway, after all, who wouldn’t travel 1000 miles for the career of a lifetime?!


I would drive 500 miles

If the training contract won’t come to me then, there is only one alternative: I must go to it:


Starting the 18th February I am undertaking a week long road trip to see as many lawyers as possible from Wick to Wigtown:

I have already made appointments with firms and I am extremely excited to tweet/blog my updates.


My passion for the law isn’t something I am willing to compromise and I am hoping that through this endeavour, firms will realise that I have fire in my belly and hope in my soul.


This is short and sweet, I appreciate I am one of thousands of would-be trainees out there (probably the only one with #TWEETBYFEET bumper stickers ordered) but I would appreciate any endorsement and support whether it be in caffeinated form or opening the door to your law firm to have a brief chat with me.


Many thanks,



For whom the bell tolls

Yesterday was a sad day for those in the Scottish legal Sector.

Despite the best efforts of those involved in the #protestforjustice campaign, the criminal legal aid contributions proposals were passed yesterday 62 votes to 53 with ardent support from the Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill.

The Law society chose to accept the minority decision last week assumed the opinion of the others.

This was their fatal mistake.

Supporting the proposals was directly against the wishes of their fee paying majority and, as a result of this, perhaps inevitably, lawyers have decided to challenge the law Society’s compulsory representation of the legal profession under Article 11 of the ECHR which guarantees the right to free association.

Why should lawyers pay fees to an organisation which regulates and represents?

A body which many lawyers would state often, if not always, rules in favour of preserving it’s own interests other than those it has an obligation to protect?

The MAJORITY of faculty votes were against the proposals and yet law soc supported them.

This is not only applicable to criminal law, lawyers across the profession are now stating their intended support of the Article 11 challenge.

I may only be a law graduate, but there is only one question I need ask:

When are you getting on board??


3.9million – the true cost of Scottish Justice ?

It has been a rollercoaster week for those involved in the Protest for Justice campaign.

Friday’s statement by the Law Society is nothing short of a blatant disregard for the majority of those who participated in the faculty votes and at attempt at guesswork on the opinions of those who didn’t. They ignored their (fee paying) members.

In accepting these proposals the argument about the effect of the reforms on access to justice is undermined. The poor and vulnerable will still be forced to pay be represented. The public will be fed government-led financial scare stories to be made to see this as an act of self-interest.  The principled stance now looks hollow.

Given that Glasgow and Edinburgh, the two largest faculties, came out as directly opposing the concessions only for the law society to almost instantaneously announce that it had accepted that the proposals should be “taken forward” is it any wonder that the profession harbours hostilities towards the body that claims to represent it fairly and honorably?

The Law society state intent to respect the differing viewpoints of faculties who still feel unable to support the revised system of criminal legal aid contributions but, given that these were comprised the majority, what trust can be placed in this statement? What proof do we have that they won’t go back on their word as has often been the case before

The law society also stated that it believed that solicitors should not be responsible for collecting fees, who will then? SLAB have MacAskill in their back pocket so firms are, more than likely, going to have to invest more time in trying to get blood out a stone.

As a would-be criminal defence trainee, these proposals are giving me many sleepless nights.  I didn’t get taught any modules in debt collection, what am I to do? Should firms be expected to turn away clients on the basis of their financial position? Firms spending more time chasing money ultimately detracts lawyers from the important issue: upholding the integrity of the rule of law.

Why do these lawyers cause a fuss
It’s not a case of “them” v “us”
Your case should call and have your say,
Not “only heard if you can pay”
We fight to make our voices heard,
You haven’t heard our final word
This Bill affects our chosen field,
Our protest the chosen sword we yield
A chosen few did take this stand,
“Justice” the only end we planned
The future yet remains unclear
Yet from this path we shall not steer


Security Detainees

Just read this incredible quote and still numb at how legal conventions can be permitted to be so ambiguous

“The military has its own language, a technocratic pidgin, heavy with acronyms and legalese, which blends euphemism  and hyperspecificity in a code that is alien to the untrained ear. With every new mission, there is new lingo.  In time, however, it was recognised that the term “security detainee” was far more than just word-smithing,it was meant as a convenience to sidestep the requirements of the Geneva conventions”

The designation “security detainee,or security internee (the terms were used interchangeably), is nowhere explicitly defined in law. And yet, it was from the Geneva Conventions that the occupation authorities in Iraq derived the justification for holding prisoners in this category. The fourth convention, which extends Geneva’s regime of rights and protections to civilians in wartime includes a few lines in Article Five that creates an exception for anyone “detained as a spy or saboteur, or as a person under definite suspicion of activity hostile to the security of the Occupying power” Such captives are still to be treated with humanity, and they are covered by nearly all of Geneva’s usual provisions. But, the convention says, in the name of “absolute military security” or “imperative military necessity” they may be held incommunicado and indefinitely,so long as their cases are reviewed by the occupier from time to time – if possible every six months.

That is all the fourth convention has to say about the matter, It is as general and open to interpretation as the third convention’s rules on POW’s are particularly and rigorously prescriptive.The international committee of the red cross, in its longstanding commentary on Geneva, describes the loophole created by Article Five of the fourth convention as “uncharacteristically involved, open to question and regrettable” “What is most to be feared,” the ICRC says,”is that widespread application of the Article may eventually lead to the existence of a category of civilian internees who do not receive the normal treatment laid down by the Convention but are detained under conditions which are almost impossible to check. It must be emphasised most strongly, therefore, that Article Five can only be applied in individual cases of an exceptional nature, when the existence of specific charges makes it almost certain that penal proceedings will follow. This article should never be applied as a result of mere suspicion.

By the end of June 2003, the CPA had already done what the Red Cross feared, issuing a document under Ambassador Bremer’s signature called Memorandum Number Three, which invoked the Fourth Convention as providing an “appropriate framework” for “the ongoing process of security internee management”.  Bremer’s memo effectively defined as security detainees, everyone taken into military custody who was not explicitly charged as a criminal under Iraqi law, and it said that they could be held for as long as eighteen months at a stretch (or twelve  months for those under the age of eighteen). The memo said nothing about who had the authority to decide in the first place that a person’s captivity met the standard of “imperative military necessity.” That was left to the soldiers and commanders of units who picked them  up.

American soldiers, however, are rarely trained in the provisions of Article Five of the Fourth Geneva Convention, although many of them did know tat in Afghanistan a security detainee was someone to whom Geneva did not apply….

Afghanistan: 1845 Quote

Captain Bladen Neill in 1845 asked:

“Does the review of the past in Afghanistan justify us in maintaining that our conduct there was without reproach? Was there no breach of faith, no disregard of promises, to cause doubts of our integrity?

It must ever be born in mind that the rights of the Afghans, as a nation, has been causelessly assailed, their feelings wantonly insulted.. They have grounds for the indulgence of revengeful passions; and had their cause not been stained  (by the massacre of the Kabul garrison in 1842), they must have claimed the admiration which would have been due to a people combating to the death for their assaulted freedom”