On qualifying as a solicitor in 1984, I moved to the court department of my then firm. I became a partner in 1986 and spent the next twenty four years involved in court work. Initially that included criminal work but I came to specialise in civil work.
I continued to enjoy the work but with the passage of time it became less challenging. I obtained extended rights of audience in 2003 and did some Inner House work. Around 2006 I decided it was time to try and obtain a perspective of life from the other side of the bench. I wanted to become a Sheriff to develop and advance my career in the law. I wanted to involve myself in more challenging work.
I was appointed a part–time Sheriff in 2008. I enjoyed the part time work. It was varied, interesting and demanding. I found it was taking increasing amounts of my time. I concluded around 2009 that I wanted to pursue a meaningful judicial career and applied for a full time post.
The application form used by JABS has developed over the years. It is extensive and searching. Completion of the form is in itself a daunting task but in my experience it pays to take time and care in completing the form. I understand that the Board pay particular regard to the examples that are given. The material in the completed application form is the basis for some of the discussion at any interview.
Everyone will approach interview with a certain level of trepidation. Being interviewed and assessed by a group of one’s peers will never be easy but it was not, for me at least, as traumatic as I had anticipated. The atmosphere at interview is moderately relaxed and the panel members do as much as they reasonably can to put candidates at ease.
I was appointed as an All Scotland Floating Sheriff in 2010. The job is largely as I had expected it to be. Experience of the job will vary depending on whether one is a resident, a floating sheriff attached to a particular court or a floating sheriff sitting in a number of different courts. I sit in a number of different courts. I find the work is demanding but rewarding, and much more varied than I had anticipated even on the basis of my part time experience.