Scott Fyfe | Associate at Anderson Strathern
Our next guest is Scott Fyfe. Scott is an Associate in the Corporate team at the prestigious law firm Anderson Strathern. He obtained both his joint LLB (Honours) and Business Management undergraduate degree and the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice with the University of Glasgow. Scott has taken the time to share his experience and insights into topics ranging from the life of an Associate day-to-day to tips for staying commercially aware as a student.
1. Tell us a bit about your background. Which university(s) did you attend? Did you take a year abroad? What were your favourite/worst subjects in university? Did you participate in any societies?
I attended Glasgow University for both my undergraduate and Diploma. I studied a joint honours of Law and Business Management from 2009 to 2013 and then completed my diploma 2013/14.
I had 6 months abroad studying in Auckland, New Zealand, which was one of the best things I’ve ever done.
My favourite subject was EU Competition Law, which I studied in my final year. My least favourite subjects were tax and public law – and my grades reflected that!
I played football for Glasgow University throughout my degree.
2. What made you choose to pursue a career in the legal profession?
I hadn’t really thought about it until I got my Higher exam results. I knew that I wanted to study business in some capacity, but one of my teachers at my high school (I think it was my PE teacher!) said that I should think about studying law. I managed to arrange a work experience placement in a small firm in Edinburgh and really enjoyed it. I haven’t really looked back since.
3. What advice would you give yourself as a law student looking back now as an Associate?
I was rejected so many times for traineeships and summer placements before getting a summer placement role with Anderson Strathern, which then led to my traineeship. I used to take each rejection quite personally. Looking back, I would tell myself not to do that and recognise that I could learn from each setback. Even Anderson Strathern had rejected me the previous year. I took the feedback I was receiving on board and used it to improve my applications and interview skills.
4. What does your role as an Associate look like day-to-day?
One of the joys of corporate is that no two days are the same, and the variety of work seems to have no boundaries.
I usually start my day by going through e-mails that I might have received the night before after clocking off. Afterward, I have a daily chat with the trainee solicitor that I mentor, to ensure that she has work to do for the day and answer any questions she might have.
After that, I could be doing anything: drafting agreements in relation to the purchase of a company; meeting virtually with clients to discuss changes to their company’s corporate structure; meeting with colleagues to discuss how to target prospective clients, or revising a complex commercial contract for a charity client.
At this time when everyone is working at home, I find that it is really important to keep in contact with colleagues, even if it is just for a chat. So I try to take some time out of each day to have a chat with someone.
5. What is the most rewarding part of being an Associate?
The most rewarding part for me is being able to share my experience and knowledge with more junior solicitors and trainees.
6. What is the firm dynamic like at Anderson Strathern?
Anderson Strathern has the ambitions of a large firm but the culture of a smaller firm which I really enjoy. There is a strong focus on work/life balance and on supporting each other, especially through this challenging time. For trainee solicitors starting with the firm, you can expect to be heavily involved in legal work and client contact.
7. How did you get over the nerves of appearing in court and dealing with client pressure?
In my role in corporate, there are no court appearances and I didn’t do a court seat during my traineeship so I suppose I’m not the best person to answer this question! What I would say is that for those who don’t enjoy appearing in court (and don’t see themselves doing it in the future), there are plenty of other options for you, corporate being a great one.
8. Which case that you have worked on did you find the most interesting?
There’s perhaps not one individual case, but work that I enjoy the most is helping young, innovative start-up companies grow. There is a real sense of satisfaction from this work as you are helping these people’s ambitions become reality.
9. Do you work from home all the time? Do you appear in court at all or is it all remote now?
I am currently working from home and have been from mid-March 2020! I’m very used to it by now but do miss seeing my colleagues. My firm has adapted well to the pandemic and lockdown restrictions so there’s nothing I can’t do at home. But I certainly miss the social aspect of being in the office.
10. What is your work/life balance like? Do you find that your workload has increased or decreased since the lockdown?
As I mentioned above, Anderson Strathern does have a focus on work/life balance. In general, the firm encourages everyone to enjoy their evenings and don’t want you working late into the evening. However, there are of course occasions when later evenings are required if, for example, we are completing a transaction.
In the first few months of the first lockdown, there was a decrease in most people’s workload. However, since then, things have really picked up and we are actually having our busiest year ever.
11. In your opinion, what are the most important skills required for a successful career as a Solicitor?
What I always look for in the trainees that I mentor is enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. When you come to work in the corporate department, we don’t expect you to know the Companies Act back-to-front! All we look for is a keenness to be here and to get involved in the work.
As you progress, other skills do become really important: the ability to work as part of a team, good communication skills (with colleagues and clients), attention to detail, and being organised.
12. How do you feel about the future of the legal profession? Do you think court procedure and dealing with clients will become more virtual permanently?
We as a firm, are constantly bringing in new technologies which allow us to do our jobs more easily. Technology will continue to play an increasing role in our daily work and I’m excited to see what technology will come next.
I think the pandemic has changed the way we work forever. I think homeworking will become more normal as firms realise that they don’t need to occupy such large offices. I also think that video calls with clients are here to stay. Whilst it will be great to get back to face-to-face meetings, for those clients who live abroad or are unable to attend the office, video calls have been a great way to put faces to names.
13. How do you stay commercially aware with current events and what would you recommend for students?
I have signed up for a number of subscriptions, such as Lexology and Scottish Legal News, which provide me with daily updates relating to my area of work and the Scottish legal sector in general. My firm also produces a daily update called “Sector Knowledge”, which summarises relevant news stories from a range of sources.
I would recommend signing up for such updates, as you are likely to get asked about commercial awareness in interviews. It is always a tricky question, so this will ensure that will always have an answer!
14. What would you say to inspire law students who are currently considering a career in the legal profession?
Whilst it may seem like you have a long road ahead of you before you qualify, I promise that it is all worth it in the end.
15. How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
I always find these questions really difficult – let’s go with: friendly, sociable and outdoorsy.
16. What is your proudest achievement?
In September 2019, I won my firm’s lawyer of the year award at our annual awards ceremony. It was fantastic to be recognised by my colleagues and senior management, and I had no idea it was coming!
17. If you could travel anywhere right now, where would you go and why?
I would go to County Westmeath in Ireland to visit my partner’s family, as she has only been able to see them once is since January 2020 due to lockdown restrictions.
18. If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
I’d like to be able to speak to animals so I could understand why my dog is barking at me right now!
19. If not law, what other career would you be interested in pursuing and why?
I’ve always wanted to start my own business, and have a lot of respect for those that do. What my business would be doing, I’m not sure!
20. If you could write a book/film about your life, what would the title be and why?
Probably something like “The Adventurer” as I’ve been lucky enough to travel to a lot of different counties so far and I’m always planning the next trip.
Interviewed by Taylor Reid (Secretary 2020/21). We would like to thank Scott Fyfe for agreeing to participate in the interview for the Law Review. You can find out more about Scott and his experience at Anderson Strathern on their website here.
If you would like to participate in an interview with the Law Review, please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org