Degree subject Classics (1999)
Job title Solicitor
Employer BCM Hanby Wallace Solicitors
I grew up with law as my father is a solicitor, but that wasn't the main reason I chose law as a career – I chose it because I wanted to work in an area that was challenging. Legal advice is required in almost every area of business so I felt I would be able to find an area of law that I enjoyed and to specialise within that niche.
While I was studying for my FE1s I worked at a legal search agency and this proved to be good work experience as it helped me understand some of the practical basics of property law.
When I started looking for a traineeship I knew I wanted to join a law firm that offered trainees a good degree of responsibility and autonomy. I live in Meath (about 15 miles outside Dublin) so I looked for traineeships in the city – like most graduates I sent out lots of CVs.
I felt that the interview structure at the firm at which I'm now a qualified solicitor wasn't as rigid or formal as that at some other firms: although there were two interviews involved, I did get a good feel for the culture of the organisation and this helped me decide to accept a traineeship here.
The learning structure for trainees at my firm was very supportive. I spent time in different departments and although I had to take responsibility for my own work I didn't feel as though I'd been thrown in at the deep end: I could always ask questions and colleagues were happy to help. For example, if I was asked to draft a document senior colleagues would spend time pointing out and explaining any changes needed. I'm now qualified and work in Residential Property Development and Licensing Law.
I like the contrast involved in working in two areas: while much of my work is office based I also attend the District and Circuit Courts regularly to make licensing applications. I noticed there was a steep learning curve when graduating from being a trainee to qualifying as a solicitor. There is also a lot of on-the-job learning: while the Law Society training gives you a good base, the only way to learn how to work with clients is to learn on the job.
Tips for graduates
Knowing what you want to do really helps when you're starting out in a career. Think about what you enjoy and what motivates you, and what you can see yourself doing in twenty years' time.