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Alumni profile - Jacquelyn Freda MacLennan

Fri 1 January 2021

Jacquelyn Maclennan

Jacquelyn Freda MacLennan, LLB, 1983

Tell us about your time at university?

I began university in 1979, and during that first week, I met some of my best friends to this day. The law faculty was a welcoming place and a manageable size. I always felt fortunate compared to others doing less “collegiate” degrees. I loved the old lecture halls, and the stimulation of some of the classes – Neil McCormick’s lectures shine in my memory, and Bill Wilson’s dry humour was an indelible influence. I never learned to love the coffee in Chambers Street café but the company overcame that!

What are some of your favourite memories of university?

I’ll always remember the experience of walking through the tunnel into Old College to read my final results on the Notice Board and the feeling of seeing my name there.

The most notable experience has to be meeting my husband. We sealed our relationship when we followed up an announcement at the University Settlement from Margaret Blackwood, a courageous, incredible woman with muscular dystrophy, who was looking for a couple to accompany her on a camping holiday to France and Italy. While it was it was tough at times, we had a wonderful summer holiday with her and we started on a journey together.

What did you do after graduating?

I am currently a partner in an international law firm of 2,000 lawyers, White & Case. I have been in Brussels for more than 25 years, specialising in anti trust law, with an additional focus on questions of trade and environmental law.

I did my training to qualify as a Scottish solicitor at Shepherd & Wedderburn, an excellent and far-sighted Edinburgh firm, and then went to work in the Legal Service of the European Commission, before moving into private practice.

My career path has a direct trajectory from the classes I took in my degree – including European law and international economic law – and I still find these areas fascinating. I used to run the Brussels office of the firm, which I enjoyed hugely, and for the last three years I’ve been a member of my firm’s executive committee, which determines its strategy and management.

I’m privileged to work with lawyers in almost 30 different countries, with different issues and challenges. However, the legal world almost everywhere is marked by significant under-representation by women in senior leadership positions (I am 25% of the four person committee) and one of my aims is to encourage more women to stay in the profession and achieve success there.

What have been some of your proudest moments since graduating?

One of my proudest achievements is to be an Honorary Fellow of the Europa Institute, and to give lectures there on an annual basis.

Another is to have taken part in the memorable Tercentenary celebrations of the law faculty over a wonderful weekend, meeting so many different people with so many different accomplishments all linked by their experiences in Old College over the years.

If you could offer one piece of advice to current students what would it be?

You are an alumni of the University of Edinburgh – a world beating institution, in a city synonymous with the values of the enlightenment. Your degree is a door opener. It can take you anywhere you want to go. Be proud of that. Be confident that you can do whatever you want to do. And be true to yourself while you’re doing that.

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