I will briefly set out below, three areas of comparison across the public and private sectors.
Scope of work
The work that I have experienced at both organisations has been diverse. As a Government trainee I have been able to take part in the drafting and implementation of legislation, seeing its journey from policy to statute and learning about the Parliamentary scrutiny our laws are subject to. At Morton Fraser I have been based in litigation and have therefore seen the other end of the process, the practical application of legislation. What I have learned is that public and private law, like the public and private sectors are inextricably linked and interdependent.
Generally in Government, your clients are other civil servants and therefore, to a certain extent, your colleagues. In contrast, at Morton Fraser, your client could be the Scottish Government, it could be another Company or it could be an individual. Of course, these differences present their own benefits and challenges, but the importance of providing clear and coherent legal service to your clients, remains paramount regardless of the sector in which you work.
When drafting legislation, external pressure can come from Parliamentary time scales or an impending general election. When working in private practice, pressure can come from wider commercial considerations and changes in the market. Employment in either sector requires flexibility and the capability to adapt at short notice.
Despite some differences, I have been struck by the similarities between the approach to work of lawyers at both the Scottish Government and Morton Fraser. Ultimately, good lawyers exhibit the same characteristics irrespective of their workplace. I would recommend that any public sector trainee or indeed lawyer, who has the chance to work in the private sector and vice versa, take that opportunity as it will make you a better, more rounded lawyer.