Patrick McNestry,Trainee solicitor, Arthur Cox

25 Jan 2023, 13:36

Psychology & Music (TCD), Masters in Medical Ethics & Law (King’s College London, 2016)

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Why did you decide on a career in law?

I completed an undergraduate degree in Psychology and Music in Trinity College. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do next, but I knew I was attracted to the area of law. I decided I would do further study in an area connected to law to confirm that this was something I was genuinely interested in pursuing. I applied for, and was accepted onto, a Masters programme at Kings College London to study medical ethics and law. I graduated from the Masters in January 2016. After completing my masters, I returned to Dublin and completed an internship in a small solicitor’s firm. The internship, and my masters, confirmed for me that a career in law was where I wanted to go.

Why did you decide to apply to Arthur Cox, what was the application process like?

While completing the necessary FE-1s, I applied to firms with legal practice areas that interested me. I interviewed at a number of firms, big and small, and in the end I chose to accept a training contract with Arthur Cox. There were a few reasons for this decision. Arthur Cox is a full-service legal firm and has a diverse range of practice areas, so there was an opportunity to gain broad experience across different areas of law. The application process for the Arthur Cox Trainee Programme was straightforward. The application form itself is very short and you are asked to submit a CV and a cover letter. I found that the cover letter gave me scope to explain my motivations and my slightly circuitous route into law, in a way that no application form would. The interview process involved a group interview, which I was nervous about, but it was not intimidating and it felt more like a group discussion than an interview.

How do you hope to see your career developing?

I have recently returned to the office after completing my PPC2 course with the Law Society. I am currently working in the Technology and Innovation department and I am about to embark on a client secondment with one of our large med tech clients. All going well, I am due to qualify as a solicitor in December. The past two years have flown by. To date, I have had the opportunity to complete rotations in Corporate, Property, Litigation and Funds.

How have you found the challenge of working in a major law firm?

I found it challenging switching from the academic mind-set of demonstrating everything you know, to the professional mind-set of providing commercially-focused, concise, practical solutions. This is something that takes a lot of adjustment and it’s something that I’ve found has improved over time as I gain experience. One of the biggest misconceptions I had about working in a law firm was that I would be one of very few, if any, who had not studied law at undergraduate level. However, I found that in my firm there are a number of lawyers at all levels from trainees to partners, who come from diverse academic backgrounds.

What advice would you have fior students interested in this area?

One piece of advice is that life flows and there is no reason you can’t change its course. The points you got in the Leaving Certificate or the particular degree you got doesn’t define you, nor does any one job or experience on your CV. Another thing I have learnt is to trust that you are good enough, but you’ve a lot to learn and that’s fine. Trust that you are capable and that if you do your best, you’ll do a good job and continue to improve over time. You can’t make experience appear out of nowhere, it takes time and it takes trying to do your best day after day. That, and making sure you make time for the other things in life that are important to you.

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