Senior Solicitor, Office of the General Solicitor for Minors and Wards of Court
As a student in school, I had no idea what career path I would take in life. I am from a farming and nursing background: my father was a dairy farmer and my mother, a nurse. Neither of those paths really appealed to me. I randomly studied Legal Studies in what was then the Regional Technical College in Letterkenny and I knew from day one that a career in law was for me.
I graduated with a BCL from University College Cork in 1997 and commenced my apprenticeship in O’Rourke Reid Law Firm where I was involved in many interesting projects. I learned a great deal and made wonderful life-long friends.
I worked in conveyancing from the infancy of the Celtic Tiger and throughout which really turned me off everything to do with finance, financial institutions, property and law. The greed and vulgarity of those years made me question my path in life but as the saying goes “what’s for you won’t pass you by”. I joined the General Solicitors Office for Minors and Wards of Court and I have not looked back. It is an incredibly interesting role and no two days are ever the same. It is people focused. Upholding and protecting the rights of vulnerable people is most rewarding. Many of the solicitors, medical and care-personnel that I have worked with over the years have been inspirational in their approach and dedication to vulnerable people.
My role as Senior Solicitor in the General Solicitors office is specialised in the area of mental health and capacity law and the law pertaining to vulnerable persons. I face many challenging situations involving untenable conflict amongst family members. However, the greatest challenges usually arise when a vulnerable adult or a child is the subject of abuse. It is vital to have compassion and kindness and if you work with vulnerable people, remember that it is a great privilege to represent those less fortunate.
There is no-one completely protected from becoming a vulnerable person in the eyes of the law. It could be any one of us. Be humble and remember that ‘here go any of us but for the grace of God’
To any person considering a career in law, you should endeavour to secure a broad apprenticeship and get as much experience as possible in as many areas as possible. This will enable you to find the area of law that suits your personality and once you do, give it your all! Specialist knowledge appears to be the way forward as opposed to the more traditional general practice. I am lucky to work in an area of law that I love and I advise that if you are not happy or fulfilled in your area of practice, don’t be afraid to move on and try another area. When you enjoy what you do in life you tend to be more successful at it.
I also recommend completing Diploma/Certificate courses in the Law Society and other organisations whenever possible in order to keep abreast of changes, particularly when you are specialising in a specific area of law. I previously completed the Certificate in Capacity, Mental Health and the Law together with a Postgraduate Diploma in Public Management, both of which I found to be excellent. Attending conferences and lectures outside of the jurisdiction is also a valuable source of obtaining knowledge and guidance from other perspectives and experiences.
Finally, remember that as a solicitor, you are an officer of the court. Integrity is everything. Remember also to treat your colleagues with respect; the importance of collegiality should not be underestimated.
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