Your career pathway

Kate Donegan, Trainee Solicitor, A&L Goodbody

How did you acquire your current position?

In my third of four years studying Law at Trinity College Dublin I did a month-long internship with A&L Goodbody as part of the restructuring and insolvency team, and I really enjoyed it. As part of the internship I was engaged in workshops and on the floor, which gave me time to engage with the work and acquire a sense of what it would be like to be a trainee with A&L. On the back of my internship I got an interview for a traineeship, which was successful. In 2014 I took a year out to travel and did some paralegal work within the firm, and also took my FE1 exam. Then in 2017 I began my traineeship.

What does your role involve, and what do you like most about it?

During your time as a trainee with A&L, there are four seats. I’m currently in my second rotation and I’m in the funds department, which is part of the corporate development of the overall firm. My role is very diverse and can see me doing everything from helping senior solicitors with ongoing matters, to completing research tasks, to dealing with regulatory filings, to having my own high level of interaction with clients, which is great. I work alongside 29 other people in my intake, which is great, as we’re both colleagues and friends. We've all been through the same things together. It’s really great to have them as a source of assistance, and we’ve formed great friendships. Working at A&L, no two weeks are the same, which I love. It’s a very dynamic and ever-changing industry. A&L has an amazing corporate responsibility ethos too. Last year I was fortunate enough to take on a secondment role where one day a week I assisted with community law and mediation. 

What advice would you give to students seeking to work in this sector?

As a first or second year student it’s important that you hone your management and organisational skills because the application process for traineeships with firms across the country can come quite quickly and can be intense and time-consuming, especially when you’re trying to balance your study. The key is to plan ahead. Keep an eye on the dates and plan the answers for your application. Being hard working and diligent is part and parcel of your role as a solicitor, and that goes hand in hand with being organised and having good management skills. There are a lot of ongoing matters and you need to keep on top of your work as well as engaging in all the different aspects the traineeship has to offer. Interpersonal skills are also really important. A&L operates an open-door policy with a lot of informal relationships and assistance between members of different teams across departments. I would advise first and second year students to apply for A&L’s one day law start programme. Applications open in January and if successful, in May you are buddied up with a trainee to give you a sense of what the firm is like. This gives you the opportunity to determine if corporate life is suitable for you and if working in a big firm is what you wish to do. For third year, final year students, undergrads and postgrads, the internship is a really great opportunity to see if the corporate working life is what you want to do ultimately. Make the most of all the opportunities, ask questions and really see if you would be a good fit with the various firms.