Theresa Hunt, Senior Associate, Planning Division, Paull and Williamsons LLP
How long have you been working for your current company?
9 ½ years
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
I joined Paull and Williamsons as a trainee in 2002. Within the first year of my traineeship an opportunity arose to move to the Planning Division to cover maternity leave and the rest they say is history!
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
Whilst there have been many pieces of work of which I am proud, I think my proudest professional achievement is yet to come! Becoming an accredited specialist in planning law would be the culmination of all the hard work over the years and be tangible recognition from my peers.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
Providing the succinct, practical and tactical advice to clients in an ever changing legislative framework can be a challenge. However providing and creating that cost-effective solution for a client is helped by being aware of precedents and not being afraid to challenge or be innovative to suit the circumstances. Being personable but persuasive is the key.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
I took a conscious decision to return to full-time work after starting a family for a number of reasons. It has meant that I do have to juggle the demands of a job I enjoy with the obvious parental commitments, but what is life without a challenge? The working week should just be that, although that is sometimes easier said than done and I don’t always follow my own advice.
Did you have a mentor or role model in your career or while you were studying law? Who were they and how did they help you?
I didn’t have a mentor or particular role model while studying that I can remember. However I have met incredibly talented people whilst studying and in my professional life, which I hope has helped me achieve high standards.
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
I think that any initiatives and methods are only as good as those who implement and participate in them. There is no point in having something which only pays lip service without any substance. In general I think that they can help to focus on individual strengths as a one size fits all strategy rigidly applied rarely works.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
I am not sure that I have felt that I have been treated a particular way because I am female, but working for a female partner may also mean I have not been exposed to negative perceptions as others may have been. I think personality clashes rather than gender is the biggest disadvantage these days. You need to be able to recognise that and adapt accordingly, especially if it is a client.
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
I am sure that there are lots of significant changes in the last 5 years, but I can’t think of any which are female specific. The regulatory requirements of the Law Society of Scotland affect everyone and legislative changes are part and parcel of the job rather than gender specific.