How I got where I am today: Solicitor

Published: 21 Nov 2014

What did you want to be when you were young?
I always fancied being an explorer when I was young. I put that down to reading a lot of books about exploring the Nile and searching for the North West passage. It probably took me too long to realise it was unlikely I was going to follow in the footsteps of some of the characters in those stories. By the time I got to university I knew I was heading towards the legal profession.

What are the main career stepping stones you have taken?
I went to Glasgow University for five years and from there I went to Edinburgh where I undertook my traineeship and worked for 10 years at a law firm. I returned to the north in 2009, joining Stronachs in Inverness, and became a partner in the firm in 2011.

Colin Sandilands

Anything you would do differently?
No. I’ve been very fortunate in my career so far. I enjoyed my time in Edinburgh where I gained a very good grounding in what is involved with being a solicitor and learned a lot from working alongside some very able lawyers. However, I was always set on returning north and did so at just the right time for me. Stronachs has proved to be a great place to work.

Who’s been your greatest influence?
I have been lucky enough to work with a number of very good lawyers and I have tried to learn from them all. However, one of my former bosses sticks out. He instilled in me the importance of remembering that there will usually be more than one way to look at a problem and to take the time to try to work out those different perspectives.

What advice have you ignored?
Earlier on in my career I thought about becoming an advocate, and a friend who is an advocate, encouraged me to go down that route. However, doing so would have effectively tied me to the central belt and I decided against it.

Best achievement so far?
Looking after Stronachs’ Inverness office and helping to shape it and the legal services we are able to offer clients in the Highlands.

What’s your idea of the perfect retirement?
When I was at university I did a lot of travelling and really enjoyed the experience. I would like to pick up where I left off when I retire. There are a great many countries I would like to explore yet, although I hear they’ve found the source of the Nile.

Is the “career for life” a thing of the past?
I don’t think it necessarily is a thing of the past in the legal sector. However, like most other areas, things don’t stay the same and you have to be prepared to adapt and change. An entrepreneurial streak can be important.

What has motivated you?
I’ve always wanted to be as good as I can be at what I’m doing, whether that’s in my career or otherwise.

What’s the best way to motivate others?  
I don’t think there is one way that will be appropriate for everyone. However, I find most people respond well to being given responsibility and a clear goal to achieve.

Your favourite stress-buster?
For me, nothing beats getting out on my bike or running as it gets the blood flowing and takes my mind off other things. I used to value days spent hillwalking but having young children means that a day in the hills is now a rare occurrence.

What’s your best career advice?  
Keep an open mind in relation to new opportunities.

Is there any day in your career you would like to live again?
I really enjoyed running my first case in court before a sheriff in Hamilton, taking evidence from witnesses and making legal submissions. There was a lot of adrenaline that day and everything seemed to slot into place. It would be nice to relive that experience again.

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