10 / 05 / 17
6th of April was the day Dundee Law Society set upon The Scottish Parliament. After dragging our law students out of the library, we got on a minibus and headed to the city of Edinburgh.As we drove around Arthur Seat, the morning sun was shining and the Scottish Parliament was looked fantastic. After moving through rigorous airport-level security, we collected our visitor badges and congregated on the ground floor. We met James Shaw, our lovely Treasurers Duncan Shaw’s, dad and James Burton who offered to give us a tour.
We began our tour around the Parliament. James Burton, our tour guide, was very knowledgeable about the Scotland’s political history and delivered a thorough and enlightening educational tour of the parliament building. From the discussions, it seemed the building seemed to create much controversy among politicians, media and the Scottish people at the time. It was therefore intriquing to see what the fuss was all about. While walking through the lovely chiseled floors and observing the unique wooden features, we learnt a lot about the buildings history and structure. The Parliament, opened in 2004, is actually a campus of several buildings, reflecting different architectural styles, with a total floor area of 31,000 square meters providing accommodation for MSP’s, their researchers and parliamentary staff. These buildings have a variety of features, with the most distinctive external characterisation being the roof of the Tower Buildings, said to be reminiscent of upturned boats on the shoreline. The meeting rooms also have walls that are made of glass, apparently symbolising a commitment to transparency. It is also the only parliament building in the world with a triple rating from the Carbon Trust. It is a building that could be construed by different individuals in so many ways, and that is why it is so truly unique and interesting. The cost of this building estimated around £414 million, Overall, a fascinating building full of symbolic features and artistic detail however, attached was a huge financial cost.
DULS members received exclusive views inside the ropes at Holyrood
Following our tour, we were warmly welcomed into a segment of the building to meet many of James Shaw colleagues for an open discussion on job roles within the Scottish Parliament. Each individual talked about their roles within the parliament, but also their personal experiences throughout their careers. We had examples of individuals coming from Germany and ‘accidently’ becoming a public lawyer, to those always wanting to work in the public sector for all their lives. It was interesting the different paths individuals had taken, but also the achievements and hardships that had been faced along the way.
James Shaw, was particularly inspiring for myself. A man, easy to listen to, incredibly intelligent and clearly very successful. He allowed a Government job to seem somewhat incredibly appealing. As a young man keen to embark on a corporate law adventure, he was disappointed with his experience. He sought different avenues and fell into a career in the litigation team for, what is now, the Scottish Government. Throughout his career he has been in all areas of the public sector. He now advises the Parliament about the legal aspects of all legislation placed before it by the Scottish Government. To many this could seem dull however, to me when he described his job seemed incredibly interesting. Each day represents a different challenging aspect of different areas of law, for example the fox hunting legislation. This seemed like a challenging role with time constraints and pressure to critique some of the most sensitive topics of 21st Century. James was engaging in his discussion and portrayed his job as challenging, rewarding and appealing to individuals beginning their careers. I was particularly inspired by Mr Shaw as were some of our students. It is certainly a legal path that many of us would consider in furthering our careers.
Our brains now frazzled with the range of options to chose for a career path, we thanked our hosts and headed off to the Grassmarket for some food. A Ting Thai Caravan later, we had a fun and exciting road trip back to Dundee.
I have to thank James Shaw and his colleagues for their time and effort to help Dundee Law Society members. Each individual spoke incredibly well about their progression throughout their career and it is inspiring for us students to see the different paths individuals take to get to the places they arrive at today. I know individuals on the trip and myself personally have learnt a lot about the public sector and working within the Scottish Parliament and I can only thanks the volunteers for this. Also a big thanks to Duncan Shaw for helping organise the trip.
Overall, an enlightening trip with a fantastic group of students
This blog was written by our External Trips Coordinator, Ailie Clapperton