SLN Spotlight: Karen Nicol
What has been your best experience as a lawyer?
Every single adoption case that I have been involved in. Family law isn’t associated with being a particularly positive area of law, however the adoption work I do is immensely rewarding and it is such a privilege to be a part of a child’s journey. Getting to meet new and interesting people, and helping in some way in getting people from point A to B in their lives, is the best part of my job and why I do what I do.
What has been your worst experience as a lawyer?
Without a doubt the first proof I ever did. Leading three days of evidence against two partners (accredited specialists no less), in a notoriously complex and niche area of law, with police in attendance for very volatile parties, all before a very difficult (politely put) Sheriff – made for an experience I won’t ever forget! Getting the result I was looking for and taking into account it was all a learning experience does put it into perspective, but it definitely wins the title for worst experience.
Why did you choose the law?
A combination of school careers advice, and work experience with my dad who worked with the Scottish Court Service. Law was appealing as there were so many different areas to it. However, I did know that I wanted to work in an area that involved meeting people and problem solving, which is why family law ended up being a good fit.
Who or what has been the greatest professional influence in your life?
I couldn’t name one person or thing that has been a professional influence, I have been fortunate to work with a lot of brilliant people over the years who have influenced me in what I do one way or another (with a few people along the way showing me how not to behave!). However, I can’t be an Aberdeen University graduate and a family lawyer and not mention David Lessels, a fantastic lecturer whose enthusiasm for family law played a role in why I do what I do today.
What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in the law?
Don’t worry about getting legal work experience before doing your degree/traineeship. Picking up different types of skills through other jobs and gaining a bit of life experience is so much more valuable.
I have spoken to a lot of law students who worry about not getting summer placements. In my opinion it is far more important to have other types of work experience before starting a traineeship, as ultimately you will learn the skills you need during your degree or traineeship itself. Other work experience, or even travelling, is just as good as – if not better than – a few weeks doing a summer placement in a law firm. You have plenty of time to work in a law firm during your career – make the most of your summers when you can!
What would you want to be if you were not a lawyer?
How do you relax after work?
Can’t beat a post-work glass of wine with friends. If I’m feeling healthier, then yoga (also during work with lunch classes at MacRoberts which is great!).
What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
Australia. I went a few years ago having always had it on my wish list and was not disappointed. Seeing the fireworks in Sydney at Hogmanay was incredible, as were the Whitsundays, wine tasting in Melbourne and, of course, the Neighbours tour!