Matheson trainee scoops legal writing prizes
Winning writer Rachel O'Sullivan from Bantry, Co Cork

Cambridge graduate scoops two legal writing prizes

Twenty-four-year-old Rachel O’Sullivan from Bantry in West Cork is the winner of this year’s Hibernian Law Journal prize for both best article submitted by a trainee and best overall article in the volume.

Matheson trainee Rachel was honoured at a ceremony presided over by Mr Justice Michael Peart of the Court of Appeal, at the Law Society’s Blue Room on 24 July 2018.

“I am obviously very surprised to win the award, it was very nice to have the article chosen for publication in the first place. It’s very nice to hear that people enjoyed reading it,” Rachel said.

The Journal, now in its 17thvolume, publishes selected writings of trainee and qualified solicitors, junior academics and students. 

Enjoyment factor

Rachel’s article on European law was praised by Mr Justice Peart for its topicality, relevance, depth of research, clarity of analysis and reasoning, erudition, and its general enjoyment factor for the reader.


‘Burning Bridges – the Court of Justice and the autonomy of the EU legal order’ deals with the idea of autonomy in legal spheres.  Rachel is a UCC BCL graduate and recently completed a Masters at Cambridge in European constitutional law, which formed the basis for her submission.

The article has a lot of relevance to the Brexit debate, Mr Justice Peart said, pointing out that Leave voters were partly motivated by what they considered to be the undesirable primacy of EU law in the UK legal order.


Mr Justice Peart said the fact that the Journal’s articles are so consistently varied and meritorious is a testament not only to the editorial committee but also to the ability and standards of academic excellence attained by law students in Ireland.

“The articles are scholarly and accomplished and have demonstrated a mastery of their subject in what they offer their readers,” said Mr Justice Peart, adding that he had no doubt that the  writers would continue to thrive and prosper in their chosen legal fields.

“Most of the authors in this volume are trainee solicitors,” observed Mr Justice Peart. “I am truly amazed that their training firms are prepared to allow them to spend so many unbillable units of time to the time-consuming task of preparing these articles for publication!”

“The pursuit of knowledge by a student is a worthy end in itself and can give a sense of achievement and fulfilment. But its worth is multiplied when that period of study spawns an enthusiasm and desire to share its fruit with the wider public, by the writing of articles such as appear in the present volume,” said Mr Justice Peart.

He said that the breadth of the topics would have furrowed the brow of even the most erudite student when he qualified in the early 1970s.

Each article is excellent in its scholarship, and deserves it place, he said, and we as readers may expand our breadth of knowledge by feeding off somebody else’s labours.


“If the future of the solicitors’ profession is as bright as I believe it to be, it will be because bright and motivated young trainees achieve their potential,” he said, quoting Aristotle that the fate of empires depends on the education of youth.

He thanked the law firm sponsors for their support – McCann FitzGerald, Arthur Cox, Matheson and Dillon Eustace – who continue to give such encouragement to students in the pursuit of knowledge and a forum in which to express their views.

Anthony Tormey
Gazette Author