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Don’t narrow your minds through overwork, new solicitors told
Pic: Jason Clarke

14 Jun 2019 / Law Society Print

Don’t narrow your minds through overwork – judge

Law Society President Patrick Dorgan told new solicitors at their parchment ceremony last night that they now have access to work and opportunities, both national and international, that are denied to others.

Speaking at Blackhall Place, Dorgan said that qualified solicitors will do a complex, difficult, challenging but ultimately very rewarding job.

He said unemployment in the profession is currently low to non-existent with a variety of roles now open to qualified solicitors.

“Every profession has to nurture itself, reproduce itself and grow or otherwise it dies. Therefore we are equally in your debt,” he told the newly-minted solicitors.

Mr Justice John Jordan (pictured), who as a senior counsel was nominated to the High Court earlier this year, told the new solicitors that they had worked very hard to achieve this milestone and they should enjoy the celebration of all their efforts over the last several years.

Working day

“On an ever-increasing basis, dealing with young lawyers, I find that the working day seems to be extended beyond what is fair to mind and body of young individuals who have worked so hard.

“An eight hour working day, is a good working day, if you work for eight hours. A ten-hour working day is a long working day, if you work for ten hours.

“I increasingly meet young solicitors who are putting in 12-, 14-, 16-hour days. That is completely wrong, That is not productive. It is not good for the mind and body. It is not good for the people living with you and around you.

“It is terribly important in the modern world to have a proper work-life balance,” he said.

He asked the young people in front of him to keep up their outside talents and interests, beyond academia and the law, such as in music and the arts, or sports.

Dismay

“It is incredibly important that you do not leave that behind you. I react with utter dismay when I hear young people saying ‘I used to play violin… I used to compete in athletics’.

“It’s terribly wrong to yourselves, and to those surrounding you, to let go of such talents, to focus on advancement in your careers.

Lawyers and judges can be wonderful company for each other and terrible company for others, he observed.

Narrow minds

“That will continue to be the position if lawyers narrow their minds to their work and find enjoyment only in their work.

“You need to move outside of the profession, routinely,” he advised.

He cautioned the new solicitors that they will never regret doing the right thing, although it may cost them a client, or money in terms of the bottom line.

“There is every likelihood that you will regret doing the wrong thing,” he said.

Quality of life

“Ultimately you are joining a profession that allows great opportunity for a good quality of life, for an income that will keep yourselves and your families happy and comfortable.

“But, to be respected as a professional is worth more than the financial rewards that the profession offers.

“Respect as a professional is hard enough to earn for young people starting off, and it is harder to maintain. You will have to make choices along the line,” he said.

Taking shortcuts to follow the money against better judgment will lead to regret, he said

“Not every group that you join, is a group that you want to join,” he warned.

Justice minister Charlie Flanagan shared his enjoyment of arriving at the Presidents’ Hall for the parchment ceremony, serenaded by musicians.

Task

He said that as justice minister he had the unenviable task of ensuring that our constitutional and democratic and judicial institutions are fully protected from those who would wish to take the law into their own hands.

“Today, the law is being entrusted into your hands,” he told the new solicitors.

“You are new members of the legal profession, whose responsibilities and duties to your clients and to the courts are the bulwark of a just and fair and democratic society.

“Hold dear to those principles, in the days and years ahead,” he said.

Principles

No new technology or artificial intelligence is ever going to replace those principles, though they will be ever present in the world and working environments driven by disruptive effects.

“But we now have a much more empowered and informed community of consumers.  All institutions, including those of the government, are having to adapt to these drivers of change,” he said.

The minister said that when he qualified as a soliticor, in 1981, the ‘barstool lawyer’ was a big challenge – those who claimed to know more about personal injuries claims than the lawyer dealing with a case.

He said that, as part of the Government’s response to change in the broader legal services environment, the Legal Services Regulation Act of 2015 will come into substantial operational mode in the autumn.

New regime

“This will include the new professional conduct and complaints regime under part six of the Act and the new legal practitioners’ disciplinary tribunal which will deal with solicitors and barristers.

“Later on in the summer, we will also see the introduction of the new legal costs transparency regime, as set out in part ten of the Act” he said.

There will be a similar rollout of legal partnerships and limited liability partnerships, he said.

“I want to encourage you as the incoming generation of legal practitioners, to welcome and avail of this new legal services regime in terms of the opportunities it may offer, in specialisation, business opportunities and in being more accessible to your clients,” the minister said.

Opportunities

In relation to Brexit, the minister complimented the work being done by the Law Society, to exploit and harness opportunities and competitive advances that will accrue to Ireland as an English-speaking EU Member State.

“Our shared objective in this endeavour is to ensure that the competitive advantages that will accrue, that will be enjoyed by you, the next generation of Irish lawyers,” the minister said.

Contribution

“As Minister for Justice I am acutely aware of the wider contribution that the Law Society and its members make to the community,” he said.

This is evident in the Law Society’s frequent submissions on matters of reform that come up for public consultation right across all of departments, the minister said.

“I also encourage the Law Society and its Council to become active in relation to other Government departments and agencies,” the minister said, reiterating his appreciation of Law Society contribution to law reform.

High quality

The Minister also paid tribute to the high quality of the Blackhall Place education team.

Nikaela Rusk (29) of Castleblaney, Co Monaghan, who works with Gallagher Shatter, was the winner of the inaugural Max Abrahamson prize at last night’s parchment ceremony.

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