Elaine Farquharson-Black, Partner, Board member, Head of Planning Division, Paull & Williamsons LLP
How long have you been working for your current company?
Briefly explain your career history and what led you to your current position.
I undertook my traineeship at James & George Collie between 1989 and 1991. My final year of my traineeship was spent in litigation and I was kept on as a litigation assistant. During that period I played competitive amateur golf and represented Scotland and Great Britain & Ireland. I gave up work to play full-time amateur golf until June 1992 at which point I turned professional and competed in Europe and the United States. During the winters of 1992 and 1993, I joined Paull & Williamsons to work in the Litigation and Planning Divisions. In winter 1994 I decided to return to the legal profession full-time. I concentrated on Planning law, becoming a partner in 2000. I am an accredited planning law specialist by the Law Society of Scotland.
What is your proudest professional achievement and why?
Being recognised by clients/peers as one of the leading Planning lawyers in Scotland.
What are the greatest challenges that you face in your current role and what do you do to overcome them?
Finding enough time to do everything! Organisation and a wonderful support team is the key.
How difficult is it for you personally to attain work-life balance and how do you endeavour to do this?
I enjoy my work and it is an essential part of who I am. I choose to work full-time and recognise that that places constraints on my personal time. I have 2 school age boys. My parents also live with me and help out with looking after the boys on a daily basis, but I try to attend all school shows, sports events, parents’ nights, etc. I try to keep weekends free for the boys – or at least work once they have gone to bed. I also have a fantastic network of friends and colleagues who also help out.
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?
No – I just watched lots of episodes of LA Law!
How effective do you think corporate diversity initiatives are? What methods do you think are most effective and why?
I am not in favour of positive discrimination. I believe that a woman can compete equally with a male colleague.
Were there any points in your career when you felt you were at a disadvantage or at an advantage because you were female?
What do you think have been the most significant changes for women in the legal industry over the past five years?
Firms have been prepared to offer women with children the option to work full- or part-time and still retain partnership status. As such, you are seeing more women remaining in the profession in senior positions.