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High Court President urges courtesy always
Mr Justice David Barniville at the Law Society Pic: Jason Clarke

16 Dec 2022 / law society Print

High Court President urges courtesy at all times

At the Law Society’s latest parchment ceremony for new solicitors (14 December), High Court President Mr Justice David Barniville said that a lack of courtesy in solicitor correspondence was exasperating to him.

The High Court President urged the new solicitors to always be polite and courteous, avoiding rudeness and condescension.

He reminded them that aggressive correspondence might end up before a judge and was unhelpful – almost invariably counterproductive – and likely to provoke serious judicial criticism.


Aggressive and cantankerous correspondence between solicitors was a pet hate of many in the judiciary, he said.

"Please do not engage in such correspondence with your colleagues," he urged.

Mr Justice Barniville congratulated the new lawyers and told them that there was nothing they could not do with their education and qualification, adding that it was a great privilege to be qualified to give legal advice.

"I would encourage you to take an interest in your profession," he said, urging involvement in bar associations and the Law Society itself, as well as legal charities.

An independent legal profession was essential to democracy, he told the new solicitors.

Every person had a right to legal representation, most especially unpopular clients, he added.

He advised the new lawyers to pay close attention to the Solicitor's Guide to Professional Conduct , reminding them of the High Court's central role in sanctioning solicitors against whom findings of misconduct had been made.  

"Only a tiny number of solicitors will ever find themselves before me... in such circumstances," he added.

Glittering career

He congratulated those in attendance on reaching this milestone after a lot of hard work, and wished them a "glittering career in this great profession".

He added that the new solicitors in Ireland would not face the difficult working conditions of lawyers in other countries, referring to the  Gazette's  monthly feature on endangered lawyers.

Law Society President Maura Derivan said that she saluted, welcomed and congratulated the new solicitors, adding that she was very proud of them.

Solicitors could guide and advise clients to find real solutions to real problems, and their duty was to represent clients diligently, with independence, objectivity, confidentiality, and integrity, she said.

Objective legal advice was based on disclosed facts, and must never be subject to outside influence, she said.

The new solicitors had many paths open to them and could achieve great things with full belief in themselves, hard work, commitment, and the ability to keep learning.

Vindicating rights

Solicitor Joan Crawford from the Legal Aid Board (LAB) told the parchment ceremony attendees that work in the law as a public service was very rewarding, given that it vindicated the rights of those who needed assistance in achieving justice.

Crawford’s career in the board had not always been easy, but was always exciting and challenging, she added.

The board employs 150 solicitors in-house, providing civil legal aid to those who cannot afford a lawyer.

With the commencement shortly of the Assisted Decision-Making (Capacity) Act , the LAB would be helping vulnerable elderly people with advice and assistance, she added.

Working for the State in providing legal services means that there was never a lack of work, whether in recessionary or boom times, Crawford added.

"One joy for many is that you won't generally have to pursue people for fees," she quipped.

Solicitors would not become rich working for the LAB, she said, but would have a regular salary, and the opportunity to work nationwide.

In contrast to the 80% of the entire solicitor cohort currently practising in Dublin, the LAB has centres throughout the country, and employs solicitors in all but three counties, with 74% based outside the capital.

The board also offers family-friendly work policies with few late nights, Crawford added, as well as ample learning and progression opportunities.


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