Working with Ledingham Chalmers — trainee solicitor Laila Kennedy
Our colleagues are award-winning singers, yogis, firewalkers and charity supporters.
And outside of work, our interests are no less diverse.
Our reception services manager is qualified in drystone dyke building, and our managing partner’s a Law Society of Scotland-accredited construction lawyer, as well as an unapologetic Star Wars fan.
And Laila Kennedy, who’s been with Ledingham Chalmers for nearly three years, first as an intern then a litigation executive, and now as a trainee, is no exception.
On a three-week fundraising expedition to Peru she taught local children how to play hopscotch to help break through the language barrier. During that trip she also managed to squeeze in a walk up Machu Picchu and do her bit to help rebuild a village in Patabamba.
However, and in sharp contrast, like the rest of us, Laila’s spent a huge part of the last year at home in lockdown. Typically, she’s made the most of it.
Not least, she was elected to the Scottish Young Lawyers’ Association’s (SYLA) committee for a fourth year and re-elected as treasurer of its executive committee. She’s only the second student to have a role on the committee since its inception almost 50 years ago.
Since joining us last autumn, and as we’re recruiting for our next intake of trainees, we caught up with her for a chat to find out about her experience and her career so far.
What's it like working for Ledingham Chalmers?
I began my traineeship in the private client department. From the outset, I was given a great deal of responsibility. This included taking clients through their wills, as well as helping colleagues with other client meetings.
I have now moved to my second seat in the rural department. I am looking forward to experiencing the diverse range of work and clients, which ranges from individuals to partnerships and corporate businesses.
At Ledingham Chalmers you can approach anyone, everyone is extremely down-to-earth. There is definitely a clear emphasis on succeeding as one team across the various offices and on treating others well.
I’d also like to get more involved with the social side of the firm. I have been part of our curling team in the ‘Finance League’ for a while now and would like to dedicate more time to this in the future. I also would like to join our award winning ‘Law Law Land’ choir!
It is important to mention that Ledingham Chalmers at this difficult time stood by me, and other trainees, which I believe is testament to its value of treating others well.
Has working for the firm as a trainee lived up to expectations?
Three years ago, I would not have imagined that I would be starting my traineeship remotely.
It was rather daunting at first, but the atmosphere was just as friendly as it had been when I was an intern and I was immediately put at ease.
The firm has made a conscious effort to organise social events, and given us a lot of support to look after our mental health throughout the pandemic.
Trainees at Ledingham Chalmers are always encouraged to bring that ‘something special’ and new to the firm, and to make the most of any opportunities presented (or alternatively, to create your own).
What are the benefits of being involved with SYLA?
Being on the committee has grown my confidence through contacting possible sponsors and approaching speakers. This confidence has helped me to successfully organise the annual ‘Women In Law’ event in Edinburgh for the last two years with prestigious speakers. In addition, I organised our first three-part Ethics Conference 2021 sponsored by the Clark Foundation.
I’ve built relationships with sponsors across Scotland and beyond — I’ve even been in touch with Lady Hale of Richmond, who retired last year as president of the Supreme Court, and have secured her as a keynote speaker at our ‘Women In Law 2021’ event.
SYLA has been an invaluable vehicle this year in particular, in being able to bring events to our members, from across Scotland, virtually. Many trainees, like me, feel we are missing out at the moment because we’re not able to meet each other or network at events, so I decided to create four sessions (each across a different area of Scotland) to fill this gap. These were really successful and allowed fellow trainees to come together.
As treasurer, I am responsible for the association’s bank account, paying invoices, sourcing sponsors, creating invoices and the preparation of the annual accounts. This has allowed me to expand my financial expertise.
What have you been up to during the lockdowns?
I took part in the SYLA’s ‘Battle of the Trainees’ moots. It was a great chance to practise remote advocacy skills. Our judge was Roddy Dunlop QC, the dean of the Faculty of Advocates, and I am delighted that we won our moot.
I re-visited playing the saxophone and piano, both of which had been on hold for the last five years while I was studying and working.
I was part of the concert band at school and the saxophone quartet, and won our section in the Aberdeen Music Festival for four consecutive years. We plan to meet up and play together again post lockdown!
I have also tried my hand at clay pigeon shooting and, like many others too, I’ve immersed myself in baking and cooking.
If you could time travel, where would you go?
I’m looking forward to the time when we are past the current situation and we hopefully see a surge of entrepreneurs and businesses booming.
I think this time, which has been devastating for so many, has also reinvigorated people’s appreciation and love for their family, friends and colleagues, and has taught us all to cherish the time we have with one another.