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NIYSA - Advice for Newly Qualified Solicitors

27 Apr 2018

Shona Mulholland

Shona Mulholland, Recruitment Consultant with Brightwater’s Legal division attended the NIYSA’s latest event for newly qualified solicitors and came away with some thought provoking advice from the key speakers!

The Ivory Bar was the venue for the NIYSA’s April event for Newly Qualified and Trainee Solicitors with guest speakers HH Judge Kinney and Eileen Ewing, President of the NI Law Society offering some real insights and advice on a career in law. As a recruiter in the NI legal market, I get feedback on a regular basis from employers on interviewees and all of what both HH Judge Kinney and Eileen Ewing said certainly resonated.

Rachael Gamble, chair of the NIYSA introduced the speakers. Judge Kinney ruminated on the changes that the legal system has seen over the years He did wryly warn about the danger of email and its instantaneous effects and its traceability. He pointed out that certainly in his time as a solicitor, he was able to dictate a letter to a client / other solicitors. By the time it came back ready to be signed, he would have had time to reflect on what was written in it and be able to amend it where necessary. Now with email, your frustrations with that case / client / opposing counsel might well be sent in the heat of the moment. “Never send an email you wouldn’t be happy to have published or presented to a judge” he warned. Wise words indeed and certainly ones that struck a chord with the audience. 

Judge Kinney also spoke about his own career and his decision to move from a private practice to the judicial court. He advised his rapt audience not to be afraid to explore other aspects of the law, especially at the newly qualified stage. This is something I am constantly saying to solicitors who come in to Brightwater for career advice. There is no better time than now to be a solicitor in Northern Ireland as there are so many opportunities in both in-house and practice for legal professionals. You need to consider all your options and choose the one that is right for you.

Eileen Ewing, President of the Northern Ireland Law Society was next up and gave a very engaging speech. She could not have stressed the importance of perception, professionalism and presentation within a legal career. “Act professional at all times” she cautioned her audience, “and be mindful of how you come across to others, particularly how the court and the client perceives you”. As always Eileen was immaculately turned out and spoke briefly about the need to dress smartly. Again, it was about perception; if you’re smartly presented, it does engender trust in you by your client and others. As a recruiter, this was definitely music to my ears as we tell everyone to be “suited and booted” for interview in order to give the best possible first impression. Essentially if you’re having a meeting with a client or presenting your case in court, that’s your chance to create a lasting impression.

Eileen also spoke about the value of finding mentors in your legal career. If you don’t find one in your own practice / company, spread your network further and don’t be afraid to ask for help or get the right advice from more experienced people. The Law Society has a mentoring network and would be happy to put people in touch with potential mentors.

It was a super evening, full of insights and advice from people who have had career paths that many of the audience present would love to emulate. The NIYSA has some exciting events planned for the future and we’re looking forward to attending them. Thanks to Rachael Gamble, Chris Kinney, Owen Williamson, Lauren Jones and the rest of the committee for organising a great event. 

Shona Mulholland works in Brightwater's legal division. For further information and a confidential discussion about your career, please contact our Brightwater team below on 028 90 325 325 or email: [email protected]