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“Laws of Attraction” - EYBA Spring Conference (Part 1)

18 Apr 2016

Fionntan Gamble, Legal Recruitment Consultant at Brightwater in Belfast, shares some insights into the EYBA Conference that took place in Belfast April 7-9 2016.

“The European Young Bar Association’s annual spring conference was held in Belfast last week and was well attended by lawyers from many specialisms across Northern Ireland. For a recruitment company that is dedicated to attracting talent, it was fitting that Brightwater should be proud silver sponsors of a conference whose theme was “The Law of Attraction”.

Hosting the event in Belfast is a big win for Northern Ireland. Special thanks should go to Julie Ann McCaffrey (chair of the NIYSA) and her team for all the hard work put into bidding for the event and organising such a successful itinerary of interesting and relevant talks. There was an impressive line-up of speakers including local legal luminaries Lisa McLaughlin, (Director of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Belfast Office), Peter Campbell (partner in BLM), Brian Dologhan (Executive Director Invest NI) and Keynote speaker, Jerry Buting (Defence Attorney in the Steven Avery case) from the now infamous Netflix documentary, “Making a Murderer” (more on that here!). A stellar panel of speakers for sure.

Other crowd favourites included a presentation from Ronan Lavery, QC who gave a fascinating insight into his career as a Senior Counsel in Northern Ireland. Ronan continues to work on high profile miscarriage of justice cases including the ongoing ‘hooded men’ case as well as representing defendants in major cases before the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Drawing a parallel between his daily life here defending clients in all levels of criminal courts, Ronan emphasised the need to keep your composure and to draw on your legal training no matter what the seriousness of the situation. This was evidenced in his personal experience of being called on to defend a Ugandan rebel leader during that ongoing conflict. With a pen, a notepad and his training in extracting information from clients, Ronan highlighted the practical application of fundamental legal skills which are transferrable regardless of the seriousness of the situation that a lawyer is faced with. Communication, analytical thinking and remaining calm under pressure might not be taught at University, but are critical to your success in the legal profession. Other critical factors would include expanding your areas of practice to ‘whatever comes your way’ as Ronan illustrated in a brief anecdote about a time when he was asked if he did any work in the Family Care Centre? “Of course I do” he replied, “what’s the family care centre”?

Following the success of the ‘formal’ conference that day and keeping in line with the theme of Justice, the delegates were treated to an evening of networking and socialising in the Crumlin road Gaol. Mr Buting, Lisa McLaughlin and LCJ Declan Morgan thanked the NIYSA organisers and paid tribute to the lawyers present, encouraging them to take home and apply those characteristics of perseverance and tenacity in their own careers and for their own clients in order to effect change.

It was truly a fantastic event to be a part of and to network with such distinguished and successful lawyers. I look forward to the NIYSA topping this event next year!

Fionntan Gamble attended the EYBA Conference that took place in Belfast April 7-9 2016 with colleagues from Dublin and Belfast.