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Joseph Thomas

Partner at O’Reilly Thomas Solicitors 
Joseph Thomas

I did my Leaving Certificate in 1975. I was lucky to have attended Franciscan College Gormanston where even back then we had career guidance. To this day I can recall Fr. Fiachre the career guidance teacher advising me that I was not good at “space relations” (whatever that is) and to avoid dentistry or architecture!  I did however apparently, have an aptitude for teaching or maybe law. At that time I knew little or nothing about law but on looking into it found that it appealed to me. An older friend who was studying law told me that he had ten hours of lectures, so that sealed the deal for me! I applied for and obtained a place on the BCL course in UCD, back then there was no Law “and” option. Prior to going to college I became apprenticed to Vincent Hoey in Drogheda. I was in the last group to be apprenticed under the “old” system.

I loved my three years in UCD where I made some great friends. I completed the BCL in 1978 and the Law Society exams in 1980. I stayed for a while in the office where I was apprenticed. I learned a lot from working with Vincent Hoey and the others in the office. One of the most important lessons I took from Vincent Hoey was the importance of collegiality. I worked for a while in Listowel, County Kerry before opening a practice on my own in Drogheda in 1983. Like most sole practitioners in a small town starting out I took on whatever work came through the door.

In 1986 I merged my practice with Ronan O’Reilly and we remain partners to this day. We have a very good personal and professional relationship. We quickly discovered that I liked conveyancing and he preferred litigation. I like that conveyancing is structured, sometimes challenging and always interesting. 

In the late 1990’s the Law School was looking for practitioners to lecture and tutor in the Law School. I applied and have since then lectured and tutored on a regular basis in the Law School. I find that having to prepare for a lecture or tutorial keeps you on your toes. Maybe Fr. Fiachre was right after all!

In 2008 I was appointed to the Conveyancing Committee of the Law Society. The Committee works very hard for and on behalf of the profession. It was my great honour to chair the Committee from November 2015 to November 2017.

Best Advice 

In 2010 I completed an LLM in Nottingham Law School, the advice there was to be a reflective practitioner - when a transaction or a case has completed, think, what went well, what went badly, what would I do differently next time, learn from it, apply what you have learned! 

Other Stories

For other career success stories, see Career Spotlight.