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Don’t discount country practice, solicitors urged
Mr Justice David Nolan, speaking at Blackhall Place (Pic: Jason Clarke Photography)

19 Apr 2024 / law society Print

Don’t discount country practice, solicitors urged

Newly qualified solicitors have been urged not to discount the possibility of running a practice outside the main urban areas.

Chair of the Oireachtas Justice Committee James Lawless TD (small picture) was speaking at a parchment ceremony in Blackhall Place (18 April), where more than 70 graduates were welcomed into the solicitors’ profession.

In his speech to the new solicitors, the President of the Law Society Barry MacCarthy said that, while the profession was generally thriving, this was not the case for all solicitors in all parts of the country.

“As a small practitioner working in provincial Ireland, I recognise that smaller, community-based practices are facing challenges, and the availability of legal services in many communities is at risk,” he stated.

‘Hard yards’

Deputy Lawless referred to Law Society figures showing that most newly qualified solicitors practised in the major urban areas of Dublin and Cork, and that there were concerns about the country solicitor.

He told the new solicitors that, while working in a large firm in a specialist area was “a wonderful opportunity”, the role of a country solicitor was “equally valuable and challenging”.

“Some of the smartest people I know are country solicitors who have been through the ‘hard yards’ of general practice,” Deputy Lawless stated.

“There’s no right or wrong, but don’t discount the different possibilities that are available today,” he told the new solicitors.

The committee chair, who is also a qualified barrister, said that solicitors had a more client-facing role, one where “the slightest inquiry can lead to a lifetime relationship”.

The Oireachtas committee chair also listed the many lawyers that had served as taoisigh, pointing out that the skills that solicitors acquired were transferable to many other walks of life.


Mr Justice David Nolan of the High Court earlier told the new solicitors that their first, true responsibility was to represent their clients, “no matter how good, how bad, or ugly they are”.

“I mean ‘ugly’ not in the beauty sense, but in the true sense, of people whom you may well believe are bad people,” he added.

“They deserve your representation; they deserve your ability to speak up for them,” Mr Justice Nolan continued.

He warned, however, that solicitors should never become “puppets” for such people, pointing out that solicitors had other duties – to the court, to the profession, and to their colleagues.

The judge also warned the new solicitors about the lack of courtesy he had come across in some legal correspondence.

“This is dressed up as some sort of ‘strong-man’ or ‘strong-woman’ approach to the case; far from it,” he said.

“This is not the way to influence your opponent, or to represent the interests of your client,” the judge stated.

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