My Griffith Story: I saw the Four Courts and knew I wanted to work there

Law student

Kate Christie is a third-year LL.B. (Hons) full-time student who is currently preparing for her final exams. She was recently selected to take part in the Chief Justice’s Summer Placement Programme. In this blog, Kate will speak about the Chief Justice’s Summer Placement Programme and her time at Griffith College studying Law.

"I went to High School in New Jersey, the United States however I wanted to attend college in Ireland. I had been to Ireland several times before as my parents are Irish, which made the transition easier. I knew I wanted to study Law from an early age. I remember visiting Dublin when I was younger and seeing the Four Courts. I thought ‘I want to work there someday’.

The small class sizes were the key aspect that attracted me to Griffith College. When I visited some other Irish colleges in my final year of High School, I saw the size of the large lecture halls, which were too big for me. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to fully understand the course content as I wouldn’t be comfortable asking questions in front of so many people. That was a big consideration for me, as I like asking questions and engaging with lecturers, seeking clarification when necessary.  When I saw the small classrooms at Griffith College, I thought this is perfect for me.

I love studying law at Griffith College. I found it interesting how my perspective of different legal topics changed throughout the degree. Initially, I thought I’d love Criminal Law, but I didn’t think Civil Law would appeal to me. However, I really enjoy Tort Law which surprised me. In my experience, one of the best things about studying Law at Griffith College is the level of support from the Law Faculty. John Eardly is the Programme Director for my course. He has lectured each year of the LL.B. (Hons) and I love his style of teaching. John is very approachable and always willing to help.

Recently, I was nominated to complete the Chief Justice’s Summer Placement Programme. This is a four-week summer internship, from 14th June – 8th July. Each year, one student is nominated from Griffith College and I’m delighted to have been given this opportunity to gain such valuable experience. I will work in the courts as an intern for a Judge assigned to me. I can assist with any research that needs to be done and help prepare people for the bench. It also gives me the opportunity to listen to and observe the cases and learn from experts. I’m going to visit the Four Courts in the coming weeks with Siobhan Clabby BL, who manages and mentors the law-related extracurricular activities at Griffith College. Siobhan is going to provide guidance on the court formalities and help me to prepare. I’m so excited for the programme to start!

When I applied for the position in the Chief Justice’s Summer Placement Programme I had to submit a CV and a cover letter outlining why I wanted to take part in this programme. Then I had an internal interview with Karen Sutton, Head of the Law Faculty, and Mark Davis, Law Faculty Administrator. With the Covid-19 pandemic, we couldn’t go on court visits or shadow legal practitioners, which is why I really wanted to get nominated so I could gain this experience. I think volunteering for the Innocence Project at Griffith College really helped my application.

In the third year of the LL.B. (Hons), students are given the opportunity to take the Innocence Project as a 10-credit module. Alternatively, students can pick a number of electives or complete a dissertation. For the Innocence Project module, we keep a reflective journal, which is one of the ways in which we are assessed. I chose the Innocence Project as I am interested in Criminal Law and it’s a good way to gain practical experience. The Innocence Project addresses miscarriage of justice, where people feel they were wrongfully convicted. As a Junior Caseworker, I work on the cases that were assigned to me, along with the Senior Caseworkers, and we forward our recommendations about the case to the supervising Solicitors. When I first started in my role with the Innocence Project, it was a bit daunting as we were given a lot of responsibility in terms of providing our recommendations on cases but now I love it! I am going to continue volunteering for the Innocence Project after I complete the LL.B. (Hons) in the summer as it’s a great project and it helped me to build my confidence.

I really like how Griffith’s LL.B. (Hons) is a three-year degree as it gives students time to figure out their next steps. After moving over to Ireland from America, an Erasmus wasn’t something that appealed to me. My plan is to get two years of experience as a Paralegal Judicial Assistant before going to the King’s Inn’s to become a Barrister. And hopefully, then I will get to work in the Four Courts!"