Government Legal Service for Scotland: trainee blogs

Blogs from GLSS trainees.

Introduction from Caroline Beattie - Deputy Director in the Scottish Government Legal Directorate (SGLD)

Caroline Beattie is the Deputy Director of the Commercial and Business Services Division of SGLD. Caroline is also the Directorate’s Diversity and Inclusion and Wellbeing Champion. 

“The GLSS has a very strong commitment to all diversity and inclusion issues. We have known for a very long time that many great ideas are generated through discussions moulded by different life experiences and that seeing the world through a myriad of lenses provides the richness, depth and colour necessary for growth and development. I am the SGLD Champion for Diversity and Inclusion and have been in the many variations of the GLSS since 1992. 

"I joined after my traineeship and have to confess that I really did not know what the then Scottish Office did. When I attended University back in 1982 I was the first from my family to get any qualification - let alone a higher education qualification. I spent my entire University career waiting to be found out for the imposter I believed I was. A very long and varied career in Government changed all of that. I don’t believe that any other legal career offers the same support, variety and personal reward as a Government career.

"In my almost 30 years I have been involved in very high profile legal matters which are now discussed in history books - that makes me feel old! We are committed to being inclusive and not only welcome - we actively encourage - applications from every background as we know that to reflect the population we ultimately serve we have to mirror it and, in doing so, we create a vibrant, dynamic and really exciting place to work.”

Lucy – trainee solicitor

Lucy is a first-year trainee solicitor and is currently working in an advisory role within the Children, Education, Rights Incorporation and Disclosure Division of the SGLD.

“Having previously worked in the private legal sector, I often reflect on the unique training provided to me as a GLSS trainee. From the beginning, my team have genuinely sought my opinions and advice, regardless of the fact I’m a trainee and as a result, I’ve proudly contributed to several high-profile projects. Some of my most impactful contributions have been because of my way of thinking and background experience, rather than my knowledge of the area of law.

No two trainees in my cohort are the same, which reflects the inclusive and competency-based recruitment process of the Scottish Government. I didn’t come from a lineage of lawyers and struggled, as many do, in getting my foot in the door and building my legal CV. The competency-based application is a fair way of assessing candidates based on their ability and how they think. I was successful in this process because I was able to draw evidence of my critical skills through non-legal experiences, as well as legal roles.

Diversity in staff is vital to the success of the GLSS as we need lawyers from a range of different backgrounds who can think in ways that others can’t, and who can reflect the diverse people of Scotland who are always at the centre of our work.

Please don’t be hesitant if law isn’t your most recent venture, you’ll find most of us come from all walks of life and bring a unique and insightful perspective to the GLSS. Equally, if you’re just finishing university, you’ll be able to bring knowledge and academic commentary of recent case studies to your new team (who were most likely involved and would love to hear your thoughts!).

As a trainee in the GLSS, I get to be part of a new generation of lawyers helping shape Scotland’s future. Starting your legal career in the GLSS means being trained by some of Scotland’s best legal minds within a supportive, kind, and diverse environment – the perfect combination for success!”

Julita – trainee solicitor

Julita is a first-year trainee solicitor and is currently working in an advisory role within the Transport, Commercial and Information Services Division of the SGLD.

"Before starting my traineeship, I did not fully appreciate that legal work could be so fascinating and varied. In contrast with private practice, most issues that you grapple with as a government lawyer are quite unique. There is no bank of templates you can dig into to find your answer – the problems that arise are novel and require in-depth legal analysis and a lot of imagination. Afterall, how often do you leave the EU or navigate a pandemic? In addition, you are involved in instructing bills, drafting secondary legislation, and providing legal advice to Ministers. Watching the news will never be the same again!

Another thing that makes working for the GLSS quite different is that lawyers move between different and very diverse areas of work over the course of their careers. As a trainee, your work is a mixture of advisory and litigation seats, with either the Scottish or UK Government, and there is also an opportunity to go on secondment to the private sector or to the Scottish Parliament. There are constant opportunities for change and new experiences.

Finally, the best part of my traineeship has been working with my fellow trainees and civil servant lawyers who are equally motivated to work together in providing meaningful legal advice to the GLSS clients. This means that colleagues go out of their way to help you out with your queries or signpost a resource you could use. It is a thoroughly welcoming and supportive environment, not least because we all have different backgrounds and experiences which means it is impossible not to fit in."

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