Speaking at the most recent Law Society parchment ceremony for new solicitors (23 February), FLAC chief executive Eilis Barry said that being a lawyer could be exciting, difficult, and rewarding, but was rarely dull as a career.
FLAC is a legal-advice NGO dealing with unmet legal needs, through legal advice telephone lines.
The body was negotiating with Citizens Advice Centres to re-open 75 face-to-face clinics for clients, she said.
FLAC ran a Traveller clinic, one for Roma, and one for the LGBTQI+ community, she said.
Race discrimination claims
The organisation also recently offered training for lay applicants to bring claims of race-discrimination before the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
The job of a lawyer was to show up for a client on what could be one of the worst days of their lives, Barry said.
It was of huge personal benefit to an individual to find out what their rights were, the FLAC chief executive stated.
She thanked Law Society President Maura Derivan for her focus on access to justice during her term of office.
Access to justice was an important right derived from the Constitution, as well as from the EU charter and the ECtHR, Barry said.
“It’s also an important gateway to other rights, and a strong anti-poverty and social-inclusion measure,” she continued.
Eilis Barry asked the new solicitors to consider becoming a FLAC volunteer or to consider signing up to the pro-bono pledge.
In her address, Law Society President Maura Derivan said that we must all be able to access justice when we needed it.
The 50 solicitors who received their parchments qualified during 2020, 2021, and 2022, with delayed ceremonies because of the COVID-19 virus.
Firms represented included LK Shields, Mason Hayes & Curran, Eversheds Sutherland, and Reddy Charlton, as well as smaller practices.