Studying law... in Ireland
My today’s guest is one of my dearest international friends, Ruzzelyn. She’s a law graduate from Dublin preparing for FE1s exams in order to qualify as a solicitor. She works as an analyst in Managed Solutions at KPMG. Her main interest is Banking & Finance, fintech and cryptocurrencies in particular. I cannot wait to read her paper in the Law Review (she’s currently working on it)!
My name is Ruzzelyn, and I am a recent law and business graduate from Maynooth University. Let me take you through the experience of studying law in Ireland!
First off, there are two main degree options, LLB Bachelor of Laws or BCL Bachelor of Civil Law which lasts three and four years respectively. BCL degrees consist of a combination of law and business/accounting/arts subjects and you can choose to major in both or major and minor in either of your chosen subject. In my case, I chose to study law and business and major in both subjects. This degree option also allows you to study abroad or work in a firm for a year in your third year.
In terms of extracurricular activities, a popular competition most law students take part in is mooting! Moot courts equip law students with skills needed to become a lawyer such a drafting submissions and advocating. This is where you are presented with a problem question and must advocate on your client’s behalf before the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court. For my final year of studies, I was appointed as the Law Society’s Moot Court Convenor, and put in charge of planning Maynooth University’s intervarsity moot court, The Silken Thomas, with many students participating from all over the country. A moot court problem question can be taken from any area of law, with the most popular being criminal and evidence law. As the Silken Thomas was a large-scale event, we secured barristers from the King’s Inns and even the Hon. Mr Justice McMenamin of the Supreme Court to judge the competition!
Of course there are also opportunities to gain international experience offered by my university, such as joining the ELSA society where you can participate in summer schools or traineeships in Europe. You can opt to study abroad for a year through the ERASMUS programme within Europe or more broadly, with a partner university in the US, Australia, and China. There is also an option to apply for the European Court of Justice Traineeship, if you are interested in EU law! You are spoilt for choice.
There are two main streams you can choose on becoming a lawyer in Ireland: a barrister or a solicitor, much like in England. Simply put, a barrister advocates your case in court and a solicitor is the client’s main point of contact who makes their case. As I am choosing the solicitor route, I will talk about this more in depth. To become a barrister, you must complete a set of exams at the King’s Inns. To become a solicitor, you must complete a different set of exams called the FE1s consisting of eight subjects: Tort, Contract, Criminal, Constitutional, Company, EU, Property, and Equity and Trusts. Don’t worry, your degree modules would have covered these subjects already so you will be well prepared! However, some people choose to do FE1 prep courses to prepare intensively for them, like I am doing right now. If you are lucky to have secured a training contract before you sit your FE1s, then the firm will pay towards the costs of the exam.
Once you have completed the FE1s, you may apply for a training contract at a law firm who will provide you with your practical experience for two years. During this time, you will also sit the Professional Practice Course I and II. On completing your training, you will be a qualified solicitor!
I will be straight with you, as wonderful as I have made my law studies out to be, the whole experience is tough, and there will be many obstacles ahead. In my case, as an aspiring commercial law solicitor, the industry is competitive and condensed which means, instead of waiting for an opportunity to be presented to you, you must go and make one for yourself! What I found helpful was connecting with other law students from networking events, internships and summer schools (which is how I met the wonderful Aleksandra, and we have stayed in touch since!). Cultivating these relationships is really what makes your legal experience all the more enjoyable, especially as their various experiences can shine a light on different perspectives and paths you can take after completing a law degree. After all, they know what you’re going through better than anybody! Plus, you never know, a few of them might even extend a helping hand which might just set off a series of events that land you your dream job!”