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Be best version of yourself, says scholarship solicitor
Cathy McLoughlin, Steven Colgan and Eimear Collins

15 Oct 2021 / education Print

Be best version of yourself, says scholarship solicitor

Steven Colgan, a former DCU access programme-funded student, is now employed as a professional indemnity solicitor at DWF.

The firm sponsors DCU’s access programme with a €20,000 four-year funding package, which supports at least five students through college.

Colgan is now an ambassador for DCU’s access to the workplace programme within DWF, which offers a student a paid summer internship at the global firm’s Dublin Landings office.

The young solicitor believes that most barriers are surmountable – if you’re determined and driven.

“I grew up in Ballymun, which is known for its social problems, including drug use and high unemployment,” he said.

Amazing mother

“Thanks to my amazing mother, my experience was relatively normal and positive. I could have semi-drifted through education, but in fifth year at secondary school I realised I had the opportunity to be the first in my family to attend university so I decided to push on and see what I could achieve,” he added.

Having heard about DCU’s access programme and the financial, educational, and personal support it offers to disadvantaged students, Steve Colgan applied and was accepted.

“I studied Economics, Politics and Law (EPL) graduating in 2013.

“In all honesty, I don’t think I would have got through university without the access programme, not least for its great team who supported me throughout.

“Like most students, I went through periods of anxiety and stress, particularly around exam time but they were always there for me.

“Having access to this level of specialist support is particularly important for young people like myself who are first-generational university students. Some may struggle to relate their experiences, feelings and stress with family members, so having an understanding ear is vital,” he said.

He graduated without contacts in the legal world, and found securing work experience a huge hurdle, not to mention professional practice fees.

The access programme supported Colgan to get an internship with a top Dublin law firm which led on to a number of paralegal roles.

“By this stage I’d cultivated an impressive CV, and the next step was a traineeship with another well-respected Dublin law firm.

“My career leapt forward when I joined the DWF team in Dublin. I was drawn by the company’s global reach, its strong focus on connected service delivery, and its willingness to embrace change.”

Since joining, Colgan been heavily involved in establishing and driving DWF's partnership with the DCU access to the workplace programme.

“It’s encouraging that companies such as DWF and the wider legal sector are recruiting beyond the traditional norms. There is a wealth of untapped talent out there if the right thinking and structures are in place,” Steve Colgan says.


I think of DCU and the access programme as the concierge who spots potential and opens the door to the future. But once we step through, it’s up to the individual to forge their own professional destiny,” he concluded.

“It's important to be a first-rate version of yourself, rather than a second-rate version of someone else.

“That’s not always easy but it’s a mantra that I’ve tried to live by,” he says.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland