Leigh Herd MCIArb

Why have I decided to specialise in ADR?

Whilst carrying out my traineeship at Shepherd and Wedderburn, I was placed in the contentious construction team. During this time I discovered that there was a whole world of dispute resolution outwith traditional litigation. I quickly discovered that in the construction industry, these other dispute resolution options often better served our clients. I signed up to the CIArb Introduction course to learn more about adjudication, arbitration and mediation….and now 6 years later I am an Associate at Shepherd and Wedderburn specialising in all forms of dispute resolution in construction, a Member of the CIArb, and the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the Scottish Branch.

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge in your career as a female practitioner in arbitration/mediation?

Challenges I have faced have mainly been having the confidence to be one of the few (and occasionally the only!) young woman in the room at an arbitration event or meeting. There have been a few occasions where I have had email correspondence with a man before an event or meeting, and after they discover “Mr Herd” is a chemical engineer with no interest in ADR (my husband) and instead it is me they are dealing with, they have treated me differently. Generally though, I have found that although the sector is still male-dominated at a senior level,  the majority of these men do not discriminate due to gender (or age), and I am respected in the same way as my male counterparts..

Are there any interesting developments in the field of ADR in the jurisdiction you are based in?

Awareness of ADR has grown significantly over the past few years in Scotland. Scotland is welcoming ICCA to Edinburgh in May this year, which will hopefully further increase awareness of arbitration in the domestic market. 2020 is the Year of Mediation for Scottish Mediation, and there are currently not one, but two mediation bills before the Scottish Parliament. Mandatory mediation is also being discussed amongst the community, with interesting views on both sides. Adjudication continues to increase year on year in Scotland, with the Scottish courts regularly looking at enforcement and challenges. A unique feature of ADR in Scotland, is that as Scotland is a relatively small jurisdiction, all the dispute resolution bodies are in regular contact with each other, supporting each other’s initiatives. Watch this space for further developments on this over the coming months…

How has a membership with CIArb benefited your career?

I became involved in the CIArb early on in my career. It was a great way to network with my peers (and counterparts), and meet lots of new people. The education courses in Scotland provided a further networking opportunity, together with the opportunity to learn new skills.

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement in the field?

During my career I have been involved in various adjudication, arbitrations and mediations where clients have been delighted with the results. However, outwith fee-earning work, one of my greatest personal achievements in the field was having the opportunity to provide a keynote presentation on the Arbitration (Scotland) Act 2010 at the Scottish Arbitration Centre’s Annual Arbitrator Training Day in November 2019. I am also currently shortlisted for the “Rising Star” award at the upcoming Scottish Legal Awards 2020 – fingers crossed for later in March!

Tell us about your interests:

Outwith the world of work and ADR I like to give back to my local community. I am the current Chair of Falkirk Ladies Circle. Ladies Circle is an international organisation, which supports women coming together to celebrate “fun, friendship and fundraising”. Our local Circle raised just under £4,000 last year for local charities, together with providing a social network for women in my home town. Ladies Circle is a great way to celebrate what women can achieve. One of our tags is #GetInvolved – once you do; the sky’s your limit.