At CallanTansey Solicitors people are our biggest asset. We are committed to recruiting, developing, and retaining the best talent to ensure we have the latest expertise, experience, and insight to deliver the highest level of service for our clients. Our policy is to support team members pursue their legal studies and advance their career. Here some of our team share their experiences of how they became legal executives.
Helaine Trumble had a wealth of experience after many years working as a legal secretary in the Medical Negligence department at CallanTansey before deciding to pursue her legal studies.
She had a keen interest in law, especially in Tort, and a curiosity to learn more and gain academic credentials.
In 2009, at the suggestion of office Manager Attracta Higgins, she began to investigate courses and decided to apply for the Diploma in Legal Studies and Practice at Griffith College Dublin.
This course, which is validated by the Irish Institute of Legal Executives, (IILEx), was delivered via blended learning, with online lectures and monthly in-class workshops in Dublin.
With the full support and encouragement of Partner, and Head of Medical Negligence, Roger Murray, Helaine embarked on her studies.
She found the coursework extremely interesting, especially Tort, Constitutional Law and Family Law.
“You see the reason behind the things you have been doing as part of your work in the office, and why a third party might take a particular course of action.”
Helaine graduated as a Legal Executive in 2012, winning the Frank Crummy Perpetual Award, as the student with the highest overall grade in her Diploma class. The qualification, and her stellar results gave her more confidence, as she now had a professional qualification confirming her expertise.
As a member of IILEx, Helaine is now part of a nationwide network of legal executives, able to attend their events and conferences and has access to their online resources and support, enabling her to keep up to date with new procedures and developments. Her qualification also provides her with further opportunities, including becoming a Commissioner for Oaths. In 2016 Helaine was nominated, and a shortlisted finalist for the Legal Executive of The Year at The Irish Law Awards. Sadly, Helaine’s Dad passed away in 2006, so did not get to see these wonderful achievements, although he used to say “that girl is eating the books”, so would not have been a bit surprised at all she has accomplished. Her Mum Jean and husband Keith have been a huge support and are both justifiably proud of Helaine and her success.
Her advice for other team members thinking of pursuing Legal Executive courses: “I would really encourage people to do things like this for themselves. Having worked at CallanTansey you are already streets ahead of those on the course who have not worked in a legal office. At work it is fantastic to be able to put the theory you learn on the course into practice.”
For Emma Sheridan, who has worked with CallanTansey for fourteen years, a career in law was never in her plans.
After school she had worked in clerical positions in different sectors. As a young Mum she was keen to move out of her job as a receptionist in the hospitality sector into a role with more family friendly working hours, so applied for a position advertised by CallanTansey.
Before too long she realised that she really liked the work and found it interesting.
She credits the solicitor she first worked with in the litigation department, Caroleann Gallagher, with helping to spark that interest. “Caroleann was a great mentor, she supported me so much when I started, happy to explain everything and answer any questions I had.
Then Attracta Higgins, our office Manager and Helaine encouraged me to consider applying for the Diploma in Legal Studies and Practice at Griffith College in Dublin”. The course was delivered via blended learning, with lectures delivered every Monday-Thursday evening between 8pm and 10.30pm.
The classes were recorded giving Emma some flexibility to fit study around her family commitments. Once a month she travelled to Dublin for in-class tuition which she preferred to the online learning, finding she worked better in a college environment than at home. She established a good rapport with fellow students and found everyone at the college incredibly supportive with regular online interaction. Emma found the support she received from Helaine as well as partners John Kelly, John Duggan, and Christopher Callan at CallanTansey to be invaluable. “They have an open door policy and are easy to approach with any queries and were always happy to answer any questions I had on course material, offer advice and refer me to relevant articles in The Law Society Gazette magazine if they thought I would find them useful. I am so grateful to everybody at CallanTansey that helped me.”
Emma graduated as a Legal Executive in November 2013, she sees it as a huge personal achievement, and her graduation was a proud day for both herself and her parents. From a career perspective she found the course “improved research and referencing skills, litigation changes so much all the time you must be able to keep learning and the course help me organise how I learn, and to remember things better. It is nice to be able to relate the things I studied in college to the work I am doing, and to feel can offer more help. I am much more confidant in my role since completing the course.” She sees the Diploma in Legal Studies and Practice as opening the doors to further opportunities to learn and progress her career.
When Majella Lynch approached Emma in 2018, saying she was considering studying to become a Legal Executive, Emma told her to “definitely go for it, the time files by and there is such a great feeling of accomplishment when you graduate.”
Majella had been working with Partner Caroline McLaughlin in Personal Injuries, General Litigation and Debt collection.
After five years working at CallanTansey she approached then Managing Partners Roger Murray and John Kelly to discuss her interest in qualifying as a Legal Executive.
She was delighted that they both responded positively to her, recognising her potential and agreeing to sponsor her studies.
She registered with Independent College Dublin for the Certificate in Professional Legal Studies. This was delivered both in-class and via blended learning.
The first few weeks of the course were “very intense and a bit overwhelming, with a lot of study.”
After the first workshop day in Dublin, where she met fellow students, she found everyone was experiencing the same thing, which was reassuring, and the lecturers worked hard to offer support and advice. “Anastasia Ward and Nadia Bhatti delivered the course, they were excellent, supportive, very approachable and it was fantastic that they had so much experience. For Majella it was interesting to study new topics like Land Law and Conveyancing, which were outside her area of work at CallanTansey. It helped give her a better overview of clients’ concerns.
Having graduated from the Certificate course Majella went ahead to enrol on the Diploma course in late 2019, only to have her studies affected by the onset of the COVID19 crisis. “All of the classes moved to online learning, with our revision days delivered over Zoom. I had to sit my exams in my kitchen rather than an exam hall, on a laptop rather than writing longhand in answer books, and make sure the kitchen was out of bounds between 6pm and 9pm while it substituted as an exam hall”. Her perseverance paid off with Majella being awarded the Diploma, which is validated by both IILEx and The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives in the UK(CILEx). Thankfully proud her parents attended her Certificate graduation ceremony as her Diploma Graduation may now be a virtual event.
The experience has whetted her appetite for further study, she may consider a Law degree in time, something she would never have seen herself doing when she left school. “The Partners and the entire firm were fantastic to give me the opportunity to study and progress and supported me throughout, which did bring some pressure as I really wanted to deliver for the firm, to show my appreciation, but it was so worth it, I am looking forward to putting all I have learned into practice”
“Studying took me out of my comfort zone and introduced me to new areas like Wills and Succession and Employment Law, which I found really interesting. It has given me more confidence and that has helped with my recent work in the Medical Negligence department, which has specific terminology and procedures, so I am learning every day.” Majella’s advice to anyone thinking about enrolling for legal courses, “go for it, you have nothing to lose.”