Interview with Craig Turnbull - managing partner, MacRoberts LLP

MacRoberts is a commercial law firm with offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh. Susan Black of Michael Page Legal in Scotland, speaks to Craig Turnbull, managing partner, about his career, current market conditions and his recruitment strategies.

Q. Tell us about yourself and your career?

A. I trained at a firm now known as AC White in Ayr. For the first ten months of my traineeship I was a residential conveyancer but ever since then I have been a litigator. I moved to Levy & MacRae in 1991 then joined MacRoberts and have been here ever since. I became managing partner in June 2011.

Q. How are you facing the challenges of today, like economic turmoil and ABS?

A. I don't see ABS as the biggest challenge facing the large commercial firms at the moment. The market is hugely competitive and competition comes not just with other law firms but also with accountants in certain areas. The biggest challenges in the current climate are attracting and retaining good clients, good people and good work.

Q. To what do you attribute your success?

A. Good luck! I think I've made the right career moves and also been in the right place at the right time. I'd like to think that there was a small amount of ability in there too but that's for others to judge. I have always worked for and with good people and that has been a big help.

Q. What do you think is the perception of MacRoberts in the market place and against others on the market place?

A. I am probably the last person who could answer that but I do know what I would like the perception to be. I'd want people to say that we were very commercial, very client focused and provide excellent client service whilst being a very good place to work. I'd also want people to say that we were forward thinking. These are all the things that I would say about MacRoberts.

Q. If you had a crystal ball, where would you say the economy is going?

A. I think that 2012 will continue to be challenging and I don't see things improving as quickly as everyone would like. I would like to think things would be better in 2013 but that might be too optimistic.

Q. If you were giving yourself advice when you were a newly qualified what would it be?

A. I think I'd tell all newly qualified lawyers to remember to treat the support staff that they work with well.

Q. What are your views on the Y Generation?

A. I think that they are better at getting a good work/life balance than I was. They are starting their careers at a very difficult time going into any of the professions, so will have to work harder to improve their prospects than perhaps former generations. Good people will always get there and there will always be good people.

Q. What do you look for in a new recruit?

A. Someone with something about them. We don't recruit clones at MacRoberts and like people to have some personality along with drive, ambition and a willingness to learn.

Q. What is the one question that you always ask at interview?

A. I don't have one specific question because every interviewee is different. I will always want to know why they are interested in MacRoberts.

Q. What is the most disappointing thing a candidate can do at interview?

A. I am disappointed when people aren't prepared and haven't researched the firm or the interviewer when it is such an easy thing to do now.

Q. What is the funniest thing you have come across at interview?

A. I can't think of anything at interview but I do recall one person using the name of a competitor firm all the way through their traineeship application. I can't remember whether they were invited for interview.

Q. What do you think of Britain's chances at the Olympics?

A. I have no idea but, given we did quite well last time, I would hope for a decent performance. I do think that we will put on a really good show for the rest of the world.

Q. What would your Olympic sport be if you had to compete?

A. Probably some kind of middle distance running because I do still run, although I would certainly be at the back of the field. I think I might just wait until the Brazil Olympics when golf is included.