Solicitors should aim for the bench, says O’Callaghan
Jim O’Callaghan TD with Law Society President Patrick Dorgan Pic: Jason Clarke

07 Mar 2019 / Law Society Print

Solicitors should aim for the bench, says O’Callaghan

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan TD urged the values of honesty and integrity on newly-graduated solicitors, saying there is a huge responsibility on them to ensure that the justice system in this country operates effectively.

“That can’t happen without a very successful and effective solicitors’ profession in this country,” he told the Blackhall Place graduation ceremony on 6 March.

The high quality of the judiciary has been an important factor in the success of the State he said, urging the new solicitors to consider a role on the bench, where they have much to offer.

Effective

The judiciary has been a very effective independent regulator of the Oireachtas since the foundation of the State, he said, and is part of the reason why Ireland is a successful and stable democracy.

If the Oireachtas passes laws that are unconstitutional or impermissible, then the judiciary will knock them down, he said.

“The judiciary plays an important role in making sure the executive does not transgress any of the important powers that have been given to it,” he said.

Politicians must keep to the forefront of their minds that one of the great successes of independent Ireland is a very successful judicial system, and we should be very hesitant about changing the fundamentals of it, he said.

Eligible

The Fianna Fáil justice spokesman said that, given the number of qualified solicitors who were available and eligible to serve on the judiciary, he hoped that many of the new graduates would consider a career on the bench.

Mr O’Callaghan also encouraged the newly-qualified solicitors to consider serving the public by entering politics.

“It is important that we have, in Dáil Eireann and the Seanad, people who are qualified as solicitors,” he said, pointing to a long and distinguished line of lawyers who had become members of the Oireachtas.

“There is an important public role that you can play in the Irish body politic,” he said.

The TD  recalled the pride of his parents when they saw his sister receive her parchment in the same room some 35 years ago, adding that the new graduates were entering a “fine and noble profession”.

Law Society president Patrick Dorgan told the new solicitors that they would have access to work and opportunities with the status, privilege and responsibilities that go with being officers of the court.

The profession was increasingly complex, difficult and challenging, he said, but ultimately very rewarding.

The number of solicitors qualifying is growing, year on year, and unemployment is, thankfully, low to non-existent at present, he said.

Graduates were in demand, both nationally and internationally.

Mr Justice Donald Binchy of the High Court urged the new solicitors to uphold the rule of law.

Rule of law

“You are uniquely poised … to promote the rule of law whenever the opportunity arises,” he said, “and I strongly encourage you to do so.”

“It is part of your obligation … to promote an understanding of the rule of law.”

“Solicitors should always be able to represents their clients’ best interests while, at the same time, maintaining courtesy and manners, if not friendliness, to the other side,” he said.

Reputation

How solicitors conducted their business impacted on the reputation of the profession as a whole, he said.

“At a minimum, you all have a duty to be courteous to the public. Solicitors also need to be conscious of the impact on ordinary members of the public of legal correspondence and proceedings.

“For example, when writing to a person who does not yet have legal representation, you should assert your client’s interest with firmness and clarity, but at the same time with restraint and courtesy,” he said.

Consequences

It was easy to be oblivious to the sometimes devastating consequences that legal correspondence could have on those at the receiving end, he warned.

Letters to colleagues should also be polite and courteous – and not be expressed in terms of anger and outrage, to impress a client, he concluded.

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