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Student of the Month - March 2015

Name:  Tertius Van Eeden

Course: LLB (Hons) in Law

Year of graduation: 2013

Nationality: South African

Home Town / Country: Kilkenny, Co. Kilkenny

My Current Situation

I am from South Africa and have been living in Kilkenny for the last thirteen years. I’m married and have two children. I am also a massive sports fan, anything with a ball really!   

I am currently studying for my FE-1 Law Society of Ireland entrance exams and have two left to pass before I can begin my traineeship. The FE-1 exams are probably the most difficult exams I have ever undertaken. In order to prepare adequately you need to kiss your social life and sleep goodbye for a few months!  I am also part of the Irish Innocence Project at Griffith College. I was inspired to work for the Innocence Project, as it is a human rights organisation that seeks to clear those who claim to have been wrongfully convicted. The Innocence Project is a worldwide network, originally started by Barry Scheck – OJ Simpson’s defence lawyer. To date, the network as a whole has amassed close to four hundred exonerations.

My Experience of Working with The Irish Innocence Project

In June 2012, the Justice for Harry Gleeson Group approached the Irish Innocence Project for help, and myself and David Langwallner, Director of the Project, travelled down to Cashel to meet them. The Justice for Harry Gleeson Group highlighted a number of issues concerning the case and it wasn’t before long that it became apparent to us that Mr Gleeson was in fact innocent and thus, wrongfully executed.

David, the Justice for Harry Gleeson Group and I drafted a ninety - page submission, outlining ‘new’ or ‘newly discovered evidence’ that could prove Mr Gleeson’s innocence. We submitted that evidence to the Department of Justice and requested that a posthumous pardon be given to Mr Gleeson under the Criminal Procedure Act, 1993. In reply, the Department of Justice appointed a Senior Counsel to conduct an independent review of the case.  Over two years have passed since our first submission, and we can finally say with some degree of certainty, that we have achieved what we set out to achieve – clearing Mr Gleeson’s name and with it, we hope to shortly receive the first posthumous pardon in the history of the Irish State.   

Why I Chose Griffith

When I decided to study law I had a number of options available to me. My main aim was to find a college where I could complete my law degree as soon as possible. At the time, Griffith was the only college that offered a part-time law degree over three years – all other colleges offered a law degree, full-time or part-time, over four years.

What I Like Most About Griffith

I like the history behind the College. Before it became Griffith College, the grounds and surrounding buildings were used as a barracks.  The campus is also fairly small and compact and it’s easy to find your way around. There is also a very vibrant atmosphere with friendly staff and students.  The lecturers are top drawer and approachable at anytime during your course. The law degree Griffith offers is well balanced, providing for both practical and academic development.

Preparing for the LLB (Hons) in Law

I didn’t feel prepared at all when I arrived. I was a chef before I started studying law and I will never forget the first time I laid my eyes on the Constitutional textbook: I was absolutely astounded and shocked at its size!

Highlights of the Law Course

The highlight of my course was the end of it, ha ha ha! It was nice to finally finish the degree and to look back at what I had achieved during the previous three years. I remember laughing when I compared my final year assignments with my first year assignments - I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the lecturers and the pain they go through when marking first year law students’ assignments.

Recommendations for studying law, Griffith’s Law School and Dublin

I would most certainly recommend anyone to pursue a career in law, it’s fascinating and well worth it. I would also recommend Griffith College to any of those who are looking to study a law degree, or any other course for that matter. Griffith is very accommodating and has excellent facilities that cater for young and mature students.

Best bits of student life at Griffith

Cheap drink on campus before heading out to the Bleeding Horse! It’s also nice that Griffith has many promotional offers for students.

Best thing about Dublin ...

I particularly like the architecture and style of Dublin. The way the new blends with the old really makes Dublin unique. I also like the vibrant nightlife, especially Temple Bar and its cobblestone streets.

Tips for Law Students

Enjoy your time in college! I know it is tough at times but the hard work will pay off and in the end you’ll be delighted with what you have achieved. You’ll also be well prepared to start the new career you have chosen.

My Plans for the Future

Once I have finished my FE-1’s I am hoping to become a solicitor, specialising in the areas of criminal and family law. I would also like to remain a member of the Irish Innocence Project and continue to assist those who have been denied justice.

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Save the Date! Irish Innocence Project International Conference and Film Festival, 26-27 June 2015

The inaugural Irish Innocence Project International Conference On Wrongful Convictions, Human Rights And Student Experience, and the Wrongful Conviction Film Festival will both take place at Griffith College’s Dublin campus on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th June 2015. Find out more

Useful Links

LLB (Hons) in Law

Law and Journlism Join Forces - An insight into the work of the Irish Innocence Project

A Battle Against Miscarriages of Justice – a recent blog post by Griffith Law student Sinead McGinley about interning with the California Innocence Project

Irish Man Cleared of Murder 74 Years After Hanging – Irish Times 10/01/15

The Dollar Value of a Stolen Life – New York Times 14/01/15

Irish Innocence Project

Griffith College Faculty of Law

LLB (Hons) in Law Online

LLM in International Human Rights Law

LLM in International Law

LLM in International Commercial Law

Interview by Lydia Casey

Interested in doing a Law degree?

Why not browse some of our Law courses at Griffith college?