This week’s SLN Spotlight falls on Alison Gilson, a partner at Shoosmiths. She was awarded the “Rising Star of the Year” award at the Scottish Legal Awards in 2009 and joined Shoosmiths in November 2013.
What has been your best experience as a lawyer?
Being given the opportunity to lead and grow the corporate practice for Shoosmiths in Scotland is a big highlight for me. The corporate team has doubled in size over the last year and we have completed some very high profile deals. It’s a fantastic experience to be working with such a great team of people within such a progressive firm.
Generally, my best experiences are based around the people I am working with on deals. I very much enjoyed a recent complex deal that had a very tight timetable – even if it does require you to work very long hours, it is worth it for the satisfaction of doing an exceptional job for the client. I enjoy the pressure too.
What has been your worst experience as a lawyer?
Ironically, probably working on transactions similar to the one mentioned above! 3 to 4 hours sleep a night for an extended period is not to be recommended!
Generally I don’t enjoy working with negative people on a deal – I believe lawyers should have a ‘can do’ approach to delivering a client’s objectives. Clients want solutions not problems, so working with another law firm that doesn’t commit to that dynamic can be tough.
Why did you choose the law?
I studied both law and accountancy at university and after graduating was fortunate enough to be offered roles at PWC and a large Scottish law firm. I decided to opt for the legal role as I felt my skill set was best suited to this.
It is important for any lawyer to be financially literate and I believe you need to be commercially astute and good with people to complete a deal as efficiently as possible. A good lawyer understands that, and realises it is what sophisticated clients require. I felt I could best apply those skills in law.
Who or what has been the greatest influence in your life?
My family. My mum and dad were always very supportive and taught my brother (who runs his own business), sister (who is also a lawyer) and I to apply ourselves but to have fun at the same time.
My husband, Glen, is the managing partner of another law firm, which he founded. It is a good reminder of what can be achieved with the vision and hard work required.
My biggest influence however is my 3 year old Finlay, who is clearly the boss in our house nowadays!
What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in law?
To consider if it is really what they want to do. I feel that you should only pursue a career that you are passionate about. The competition in our sector is increasingly tough and a lack of commitment will be identified pretty quickly.
What would you want to be if you were not a lawyer?
I would be a professional surfer! Unfortunately I’m not that exciting – I would probably be an accountant, or a psychologist.
How do you relax after work?
By playing pirates or super heroes with my 3 year old son!
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
Portugal. My boys love the beach and the golf courses, so I can ship them off for a surf or a round of golf (Fin will drive the cart!) and get five minutes of peace!