Jane-Ann Rothwell, Barrister, Self-employed
Degree subject Bachelor in Civil Law (1997); Barrister at Law (1998)
Job title Barrister
I felt very drawn to a career at the Bar – I liked the idea of variation and diversity and the possibility of specialising in certain aspects of the Law. I devilled with a barrister in Dublin for a year and then decided it would be wise to do a second year of devilling, which I did in Cork.
Barristers are essentially self-employed, which, while challenging, appeals to my sense of independence and freedom. Typical days can be very busy, when I am in more than one court and also conducting consultations. Those days in particular require great juggling skills, energy and the ability to be sharp and work well under pressure. An easy day involves drafting in the office.
The down side of being self-employed is that it's all down to your own initiative and drive – lazy periods are definitely not permitted! There's always that insecurity of no guarantees.
The first five years are difficult as you have to depend on another source of financial support, either from your family or part-time work. Many barristers starting out will do some teaching on a range of third-level courses that have law modules. In the first few years it's very important to take a wide range of briefs in a selection of legal areas. The opportunity to specialise in one or a few areas comes later.