I didn’t really know what to expect coming into my internship. I had interned with a lawyer previously, but I had no idea how similar or different working with a lawyer in Ireland would be. While there are some small similarities between the legal system in America and the one I am learning about in Ireland, I am astounded at how different they are.
One thing that is different in Ireland is basic legal terms and positions. For example, at home people who practice law are either called lawyers or attorneys but both are the same. In Ireland, you have a solicitor and a barrister, and the two are quite different. Solicitors are what you might think of when you hear the word lawyer. They represent and advise their client through negotiations, however, most of their work is done at a desk and not solely in court. Barristers, on the other hand, are quite different than lawyers in America. For one, they wear a wig and a gown in court. Barristers work mainly in court pleading on behalf of their client. Solicitors generally meet with a client and gather information which they pass on to a barrister who prepares the evidence for court.
I am also surprised by how different court is in Ireland. Here, I mostly attend the district court, the same as I attended in America. In America, judges and referees would only have a few cases on their docket each day. Here, judges have over one hundred cases some days and fly through them. Court hearings here move so efficiently, I honestly could not keep up my first day.
Another thing that surprised me about my internship is how friendly the people in the office are. Law firms can have a reputation for being stuffy and serious all the time, but I could not imagine more friendly people to work with. All of the staff in the office take a thirty-minute break for tea and biscuits at 11 and a lot of the staff eat lunch together. From the first day, everyone was friendly and made me feel like I had worked in the office for ages.
Prior to beginning my internship, I had an idea of what I would be doing based on my previous experience, but I didn’t know for sure. While I have some basic intern tasks like photocopying, binding books of reports, correspondences, and pleadings, I am also sitting in on client consultations, attending court daily, and meeting clients who are currently in holding cells or imprisoned. I almost feel like I am on an episode of Law and Order every day. I never imagined the work that I am doing would be so hands-on and it confirms my future plans to attend law school.