My first job was working for Bruce Wood who at that time was head of Corporate for the firm. I arrived with my little black book of contacts and spent the following weeks getting in touch with them and building up my practice. I was so keen to find out more about Asset Finance from Bruce – the leader in the field - and it was a steep learning curve! He is one of the best teachers I have every come across, and I can still remember my fear of getting anything wrong in my drafting as he is the master.
One morning, not long after I had arrived I was very busy trying to settle a transaction and I noticed I had an early morning meeting in the my diary with Linda and Bruce to discuss time recording – in my haste I asked if we could postpone it and I got the impression pretty quickly that that was not the right question! So I entered the room with a mixture of fear and anxiety – what if I had done something wrong – my secret had been found out and Bruce thought my drafting was rubbish – well to my astonishment I was offered partnership! I nearly fell off the lovely sofa that I was perched on!
I am the first to say that I was not a typical lawyer and Morton Fraser and in particular, Linda and Bruce, could obviously see something in me! After I had collected myself up and got my head around it (only took a year!), I really got into the swing of being a partner. The main wonderful thing about Morton Fraser and all of the Partners is that, if you show that you are keen to really grow and develop both yourself and ideas, they are fully supportive and do not interfere – they love to see people thrive and grow.
After pulling the Banking and Finance team together I was elected by my fellow partners onto the Strategy Board – a first for the firm – I was so chuffed that my partners had faith in me and my approach. We all worked really hard on the board to look to the future for MF, and there were many late and fruitful meetings where we explored all suggestions and made decisions. At the same time I was appointed as Divisional Manager of the Corporate Team – this really developed my management skills – if you can manage a team of lawyers to agree a way forward and to comply with decisions, then I personally think you can manage anyone!
Throughout this time I had always enjoyed meeting contacts and telling the story of Morton Fraser to a wide variety of individuals and companies. This included the Edinburgh College of Art – we sponsored their Fashion Show for several years and clients just loved it.
Then I met an inspirational lady called Dorothy Markham. This was to change my life totally. Initially she approached me through a contact, in a Bank I acted for, to set up a company for her. She had bought a house in Leven and was going to make it into a Children’s Residential Home. I was bowled over by her conviction that she could offer the best service and care to these very vulnerable young people, and over the following 10 years we got closer and closer with me helping in my spare time.
I was asked to come onto the Board of Cairn Mhor Childcare Partnership Limited and gladly accepted – with the full support of Morton Fraser. I can always remember Bruce saying how it was so good for partners to have these positions as it makes sure we understand the pressures of our clients. After a while Dorothy was looking to retire and she asked me to take over from her, as Chief Executive. I thought long and hard about it, and said yes.
I left Morton Fraser – with a lot of tearful good byes - last year and I have now been in my role with Cairn Mhor Childcare Partnership Limited for nearly a year. I love it. The challenges are entirely different, but key to my success has been all that I learnt from my years in Morton Fraser. Clear management with care and time taken to really understand the strengths and weaknesses of staff, and supporting them to be all they can be, is just the same in my current role as it was in Morton Fraser.
Trust and respect of each other and an enquiring interest in what your service users (aka children/young people) and clients are needing and want you to provide are key. I am still on the board of the Chartered Banker Institute, Social Investment Scotland – Capital and Finance Committee and a Governor of Cargilfield School. I also sit on the Management team of EtCS, which is a body that speaks for Residential Childcare Providers in Scotland – we are in discussion with the Scottish Government on new qualifications for care staff that will change the industry hugely. So I am keeping my practising certificate – I now complete my CPD in Child law and I am assisting several children in our care with making sure they have a good knowledge of their rights.
The best bit is that I get to see how we can all help these young people who have truly had very hard starts in life to have love, nurture and care to allow them to be all they can be. What a wonderful job, which uses so much of what I learnt at Morton Fraser.