Work Experience – Matthew Callan

My Work Experience.

(Monday 2 – Friday 6 of November)

Sligo Courthouse and The Four Courts

Each year in April/May and October/November time the High Court comes to Sligo to deal with minor Civil matters involving people in that area. Last week I went to the Sligo Courthouse between the 2nd and 5th of November. I know a barrister who works on that circuit and he invited me up for that week back in August and he is a Junior at the Bar.

When I got to the Courthouse in Sligo I met Counsel and he showed me around the courthouse. There are three different courts although only two are used when the High Court is not in session. I then met the registrar. She very kindly showed me how the list works and gave me my own list. There was another Transition Year student on Work Experience with me. He was from Summerhill College in Sligo and it was nice to have the chance to learn alongside somebody else.

I watched a many cases and learnt a lot from my week of Work Experience. The registrar even let the other student and I sit where the jury should be sitting. It was very cool because I got to see the barristers and solicitors from the front of the courtroom. It was interesting as well because I got to see the work done by both the junior barristers and solicitors.

The most investing case I watched was a case against the Minister of Justice. The plaintiff claimed that he warned prison officers about his situation believing that he was going to be attacked. Then he really was attacked later that same day in the Exercise Yard. He is sueing the Minister for negligence. It was a fascinating and what was most unusual about it was that it was adjourned for a few weeks as the final witness for the defendant was out of the country. Generally, cases taken up in Sligo High Court are supposed to take no longer than three days and are supposed to also be finished in Sligo rather than being brought back up to Dublin.

I really enjoyed the experience of going to the High Court in Sligo and seeing Justice in action.

On Friday the 6th of November I went to the Four Courts in Dublin. The first thing I did when I arrived was to go and see what the Supreme Court was like. It was very interesting because when I went in they were calling out the list for the day. The three judges sitting that day were Chief Justice

One litigant addressed the court in Irish. Chief Justice Susan Denham was sitting along with Justices McMenamin and Clarke. She is the first woman to hold office of Chief Justice. She asked afterwards if there was any translators around to hear this case which would otherwise have to be adjourned, Justice Denham duly pronounced dhá seachtain in almost impeccable Irish. I finally rounded off my experience by visiting chambers where barristers prepare briefs and have consultations. It all seemed so exciting and they all seemed to be one more brilliant than the last. I hope to get the chance to visit the courts again even if I decide not to be a lawyer.

By Matthew Callan