The Law Society hosted an information and networking event (28 July) for Ukrainian lawyers now living in Ireland as a result of the Russian invasion of their country.
There were 107 attendees at the Blackhall Place Law School event – including 67 relatively young Ukrainian lawyers – who heard detailed guidance on practising law in this country, and the supports available to them from both the Law Society and the Bar of Ireland.
Another 31 Ukrainian lawyers who could not physically attend the event, but had expressed their interest in the proceedings, will receive all educational material supplied, in due course.
Ian Ryan (solicitor and Law Society traineeship executive) set out the steps to practise law in Ireland for those with external qualifications.
Ryan spoke about training contracts, FE1s, and the PPC route to qualification as a solicitor.
“What is a training contract?” asked one attendee.
Ryan explained that 96% of trainees in Ireland were in paid traineeships to enter the profession. In all, 539 traineeships were offered to trainees in 2021, which he described as a “brilliant number” for the profession.
The vast majority of trainees were offered jobs in their training firms, he added.
Of the current batch of trainees, 60% are women and 40% are men. The six largest firms offer 40% of training places, with 84% of offers based in Dublin.
Ryan also addressed funding options, and various access scholarships run by the Law Society.
A bursary scheme – including maintenance grants – was also open to applicants on the PPC course, he added. The Small Practice Traineeship Grant was also an option for help with funding for those living in rural Ireland, he explained.
Reserved legal services
Simon Treanor BL (practice regulation executive in the Society’s regulation department) explained that reserved legal services under section 58 of the Solicitors Act 1954 could be provided only by a practising solicitor or a practising barrister. These include litigation, conveyancing and probate.
The term ‘solicitor’ was also protected by law, he added.
An appropriate use of title for a lawyer qualified in another jurisdiction who is not on the Irish Roll of Solicitors is: ‘Lawyer (country qualified – Ukraine)’.
Solicitor Katherine Kane, who is acting head of Law Society Professional Training (which provides continuing professional education to legal practitioners and the wider public) told the attendees that the Irish legal profession was very welcoming and open to newcomers.
Anna Bazarchina BL of the Association of Ukrainian Lawyers expressed her heartfelt thanks to the Law Society for organising the event. She said that her association would do everything possible to continue to assist Ukrainian lawyers in Ireland.
She hoped that Ukrainian lawyers in Ireland would be able to assist businesses that were looking to rebuild Ukraine.
“They have invaluable knowledge in Ukrainian law, and can assist with that,” she said.
Attendees heard about the Law Society’s Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), which has remained open for free access by Ukrainian lawyers in Ireland.
Small legal community
Recruitment representatives from some of Dublin’s larger firms, such as A&L Goodbody LLP, Arthur Cox LLP, and Matheson LLP, spoke to attendees, who heard that networking was a great way to enter the job market here, given the relatively small legal community in Ireland.
“Everyone is open to an approach,” said Niamh Counihan of Matheson.
“The way to network is to ask for information, ask for advice, and that will lead you through to opportunities,” she said, also recommending the use of LinkedIn as an online tool.
Specific legal skills should be flagged to organisations that might have an interest in them, the attendees were advised.
Speaking in a personal and academic capacity, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys (High Court) addressed the legal implications of the ‘Russian Federation’s criminal war of aggression against Ukraine’.