Chiara Pieri- President
Chiara is a Contentious Construction Solicitor at Shepherd and Wedderburn, having also undertaken a secondment to SP Energy Networks. Chiara graduated from the University of Glasgow with a degree in Scots Law with Italian Language. She completed her 3rd year at the University of Bologna. She went on to complete her Diploma in Professional Legal Practice at the University of Strathclyde. Chiara was elected as President in May 2021 and joined the SYLA as a non- executive member in 2018. Chiara manages the SYLA’s social media presence. She has assisted with organising the SYLA Spring Ball for two years consecutively and has organised various CPD events throughout the years in collaboration with the CIPR, the RICS and the SDLA to name a few.
Chiara is keen to encourage members to become involved with the wider profession through organising social, networking and CPD events. You can follow Chiara on Twitter at @chiarapierisw.
Laila Kennedy- Vice President
Laila is a second year Trainee Solicitor with Ledingham Chalmers LLP in Aberdeen. She graduated from the University of Aberdeen with a LL.B (Honours) 2:1 in 2019, and achieved the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice with Distinction in 2020. Laila first joined the SYLA in September 2015, and has thoroughly enjoyed representing members as a student, now a trainee, and will become a NQ solicitor in 2022. She is delighted to have been re-elected onto the Committee for a fifth year, as Vice President, following two years as Treasurer.
Laila attend the European Young Bar Association Summer Conference in Rome in June 2019, where she assisted, and successfully bid to host the next Spring Conference in Glasgow. Laila has focused on reaching and supporting as many members as possible over the last year in particular, and gained sponsorship to host a virtual event platform to achieve this. She created a new series, ‘Connecting Trainees’, where trainees meet each other and share tips on working remotely, while discussing mental health concerns and providing a good support network. Last year, Laila organised 17 events including First Time Buyers and the Ethics Conference. Laila has also organised the annual Women In Law event for the last three years, with Lady Hale as the keynote speaker in 2021. In addition, she manages the Associations’ Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, and co-assists with
Laila enjoys making a personal contribution to SYLA by creating educational, training and networking opportunities. She continues to focus on outreach and diversity, and is determined to support and reach as many members as possible.
You can follow Laila on Twitter @LailaKennedy15, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Maddie Thomas- Treasurer
Originally from Edinburgh, Maddie completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Dundee, graduating virtually during the pandemic. Throughout her university career, Maddie spent time on the Staff-Student Liaison committee enabling the voices of the students to be heard within the Law School and was also heavily involved with Dundee University Ladies Hockey Club. She also acted as vice-captain for her Premiership club hockey team throughout university and represented the Scottish Student National hockey team.
Reaching out to the wider community is something that Maddie is passionate about and has fundraised for several local charities, most notably Children’s Hospices Across Scotland (CHAS).
As Maddie heads to Glasgow University to complete her Diploma, she is keen to continue her work on committee while setting into her new role of Treasurer. While COVID greatly affected her university life, Maddie wants to be a voice for the younger members of the legal community who also struggled to find normality throughout the pandemic. She is excited for another year with the SYLA!
Patricia Taylor - Secretary
Patricia is a solicitor (specialising in commercial litigation) with international law firm, DWF. She completed the LL.B. at Glasgow Caledonian University, and the DPLP at the University of Glasgow. Alongside possessing an interest in commercial matters, Patricia hopes to assist in creating a profession that represents the diverse society in which we live, and one in which every solicitor can bring their entire-self to work.
Patricia served for two years on the SYLA's non-executive committee, before being appointed to her current role of Secretary. She is also a volunteer with the Law Society of Scotland's mentoring scheme, a member of the Law Scot Foundation's Fundraising Committee, and a Social Mobility Foundation Mentor.
Patricia hopes to drive diversity and inclusion within the profession, and regularly utilises her SYLA platform to educate on such matters. Further, with a background in delivering policy-centric events, Patricia is well placed to assist in delivering topical CPD opportunities.
Ayla Iridag - Past President
Ayla graduated from the University of Dundee in 2014 with an LLB (Hons) and Dip PLP. She began her traineeship with Simpson and Marwick in their Dundee office. Ayla moved to Edinburgh where she she now practices as a civil litigation solicitor with Clyde & Co.
At university Ayla was the Student Director of the Dundee Student Law Clinic and now continues her charity activities as a member of the Lawscot Foundation Fundraising Committee and as a judge with the Donald Dewar Debating Competition.
Ayla has a particular interest in legal education and representation. She sits on the editorial board of the Journal of the Law Society of Scotland and as an executive board member of the European Young Bar Association.
Ayla was President of the Association in May 2019- May 2021.
Anna is a private client solicitor at Anderson Strathern LLP, working with a variety of individuals and families from within the high net worth and family office service team. Originally from Falkirk, Anna graduated from the University of Glasgow with an LLB (Hons) in 2017 and completed the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice at the University of Edinburgh the following year. She trained across Scotland with Thorntons LLP before joining Anderson Strathern as a newly qualified solicitor. During her undergrad Anna was on the executive committee of Glasgow University’s Ballroom Dancing Society for two consecutive years and was a sub-editor for the Glasgow University Law Review. She also helped to arranged both of her grad balls and was President of her Diploma’s social committee.
Anna joined the SYLA committee during the pandemic in 2020 and is delighted to have been re-elected for 2021. During her first term on the board she organised several events, and assisted with the inception of the “Coffee with the Committee” series which she is excited to help carry into 2021. Anna is keen to represent and encourage further engagement with young lawyers outside of the central belt and main cities and is interested in bringing SYLA events and CPD to those outside these areas. She is looking forward to producing training, networking, and social events for the benefit of young lawyers across Scotland.
Accessibility and adaptability have been key throughout the pandemic and Anna is keen to focus more on these this year. Anna is tech savvy, business development focused, and a self-proclaimed spreadsheet queen who is keen to bring these skills to the SYLA committee and to listen out for what SYLA’s members want their association to look like.
Matthew is a criminal defence solicitor with McGovern Reid. He graduated with an LLB (Hons) from the University of Strathclyde before obtaining his Diploma in Professional Practice from the same institution, where he served as the President of the Strathclyde Law Society. He also volunteers with the Law Society of Scotland as a career development mentor. He was first elected to the Committee of SYLA in December 2019.
He has a particular interest in criminal law and representation issues involving new and aspiring criminal lawyers. He welcomes contact from law students who are interested in pursuing a career in criminal law and looks forward to engaging with SYLA members who are practising criminal lawyers.
You can follow Matthew on twitter @mcgovernlawyer.
Kerri completed her LLB (Hons) at the University in Dundee in 2018, before studying the DPLP online at RGU, graduating in 2020. She has worked with D.C. Thomson in Dundee since 2018, first as a legal assistant and latterly as a trainee solicitor, commencing the second year of her traineeship in June 2021. In addition to her position as non-executive committee member with SYLA, Kerri is a co- ordinator with the Law Society of Scotland’s Street Law programme, where she is responsible for
trainers across Dundee and Aberdeen. Kerri also sits on the Law Scot Foundation’s Fundraising Committee.
Kerri is a long time member of SYLA and is delighted to have been elected to the position of non- executive committee member for 2021.
Kerri hopes to encourage membership from young lawyers who work, or are interested in working, in-house and in high street firms. She is keen to continue SYLA’s work in providing networking and CPD events that will be beneficial for these groups.
Brianella is a trainee solicitor with Harper Macleod LLP. She graduated with a first class LLB (Hons) from the University of Stirling before obtaining her DPLP at the University of Strathclyde. Brianella is also an appointed Committee Member of the Law Society of Scotland’s Racial Inclusion Group. The Group seeks to better understand the lived and professional experiences of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME)members and to improve racial inclusion and diversity within the legal profession
Brianella is very passionate about addressing the social dilemma of diversity and racial inclusion within the legal profession. She hopes to utilise this platform to ensure that we have uncomfortable conversations around BAME representation within the profession as well as discussion around gender equality in law.
Robyn graduated from the University of Aberdeen in 2021 with a first class LL.B (Honours) degree and looks forward to starting her Diploma in Legal Practice in the autumn. Robyn will commence her training contract with Thorntons LLP in 2022. She is delighted to be joining the committee as a new member and hopes to engage with younger members of the association and promote SYLA events to those at university level. Robyn, throughout her time at university, was heavily involved with pro bono and served as Deputy Student Director of the Aberdeen Law Project for two years, subsequently founding her own law clinic in the Tayside and Perthshire area. She hopes to continue to promote access to justice and empowering young lawyers as she joins the committee.
Marsaili Van Looy
Marsaili is a trainee solicitor at Burness Paull LLP. She undertook the LLB(Hons) and the Diploma in Professional Legal Practice at the University of Aberdeen.
Marsaili has always wanted to make a difference in the legal world, and was heavily involved in pro bono legal work throughout her university career. She is delighted to have been elected this year as a non-executive committee member for SYLA. Marsaili is keen to push for support for young lawyers, in particular the importance of mental health following the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenges young lawyers face, and she looks forward to using her position in the committee to foster more support between young lawyers.
Amina is an NQ Solicitor. She completed the LLB at the Robert Gordon University, and the DPLP at the University of Strathclyde. Amina hopes to be the voice of those under-represented within the legal profession. She is keen to drive diversity and inclusion and hopes to utilise both her SYLA platform and her Committee position with the Law Society's Racial and Inclusion Group to educate further on said matters. Whilst on the committee, Amina wishes to engage with the BAME members of the association through both social and CPD events.
Kenneth Norrie, Honorary President
Professor Kenneth Norrie LLB, PhD, FRSE succeeded Alastair Bonnington to become our Honorary President in 2008.
Professor Norrie was the Head of Strathclyde Law School between 2001 and 2007. Prior to that appointment he was a Lecturer in Law at Strathclyde University, Aberdeen University and Dundee University.
Whilst originally a medical lawyer, Professor Norrie's main research interests developed some years ago into mainstream family law, in particular child law and child protection law, and his interests have recently further developed into the fields of law and sexual orientation and same-sex families. Most former students will remember him fondly as their family law lecturer. Indeed, the must read course text was his "Parent and Child" book, not to mention his legendary "marriage" lecture.
He has also written widely on a variety of topics within the law of delict, in particular defamation. He has held visiting lectureships and professorships at the Universities of Regensburg, Vienna, Sydney, Wellington and Cape Town. He has taught classes at the Universities of Glasgow and Baltimore, Maryland.
The Scottish Young Lawyers Association are delighted that such a well liked and respected academic holds our post of Honorary President.