This week’s past pupil profile is from Niall Mc Monagle.
1. What subjects did you study in Magh Ene College and how do these relate to your current university course?
I studied the usual Maths, English and Irish together with Business Studies, French, Accountancy and Biology. I was lucky in that I had set my mind on studying Law at that stage and I knew that there was no particular subject that I was required to take up. Looking back, History may have been of some relevance but I think my poor memory for dates would have been my downfall. I had heard that having a language subject would be helpful going forward (hence the French) but I can’t say I’ve ever really had to put mon français to use, at least in a professional setting.
2. What extra curricular activities did you get involved in while in Magh Ene College and how have these helped you so far?
The vast majority of extra curricular activities that I remember taking part in at school were during Transition Year. I remember managing a mini-company producing furniture that came second in a national competition for ‘quality of product’. I recall that the team was strong and very competitive and that, more importantly, we had great craic doing it. I was also involved in the Debating team and found that a similarly enjoyable experience. I remember getting the Bronze Gaisce award which was tough going at times but well worth doing, even if only for an impressive addition to your C.V. I do wish I had taken up on more opportunities like this of my own accord while studying, when I had more time available to get properly involved.
3. Tell us about the university course you are currently undertaking – subjects studied, work experience etc.?
Like many students to come out of Magh Ene, I decided to go to Galway for college. I cannot speak highly enough of Galway as a student city. I studied Civil Law in NUI Galway and ended up getting an Honours Degree in 2012. I went on to do my Masters in Public Law, again in NUIG, and graduated from that in 2013. During my time in NUIG, I studied a wide range of areas of law ranging from Constitutional and IT Law to Law Reform and Criminology. As someone who didn’t have an eye on any specific area of law, this was ideal for me to get a sense of what did and did not interest me. On top of that, I had the chance to get involved in numerous worthwhile projects, including campaigning for the Childrens’ Rights referendum and working with interest groups such as the Public Interest Law Alliance and Dolphin House Residents’ Association. In terms of academics, I was chosen to deliver a presentation at the Annual Conference of the Irish Society of Comparative Law and also completed a thesis looking at the issue of legal costs and its effect on public interest litigation.
After college, I went on to spend four months tutoring first year Arts students in NUI Galway in the basics of ‘Legal Skills and Research’ and another ten months managing a team specialising in professional charity fundraising for various local, national and international charities. I eventually decided to bite the bullet and come home to law in early October 2014. I started to jump the hurdles to qualifying as a Solicitor in Ireland by applying to sit my first four FE1 exams in March 2015 and the last four in October 2015. At the same time, from January 2015, I began working at Mullaneys Solicitors in Sligo. After passing my FE1s, I was offered a Training Contract in Mullaneys and have been a part of the furniture there ever since. In this line of work, I have had the chance not only to work on a wide variety of cases covering several areas of law but also to deal directly with clients, Counsel, colleagues within the profession and various other public and private organisations. I am involved in most aspects of the litigation process in some form or another on a daily basis, from the admin to the days in Court. If you are a people person and a problem solver, this is the right job for you.
4. What is your education/career plan for the future?
I have recently finished my first stint in Blackhall Place in Dublin, which is a seven month long course known as PPC1. My next (and last) spell in Blackhall is PPC2 which I will be completing from April to June next year. My Training Contract finishes around November next year and I expect to be admitted to the Roll of Solicitors in early 2019, when I will officially become fully qualified. I hope to hear from all of you then should you need me (which I’m sure you all hope you don’t!).
5. What other advice would you give to current students in Magh Ene College?
If it’s life advice you’re looking for, I’d say to take every chance you get to get involved in something that interests you or improves you, especially while you are studying.
If it’s career guidance you want, I suggest getting the right balance between your work/studies and your own personal and social life. A huge part of that is choosing a career that you are enthusiastic about and that doesn’t feel like work as opposed to something that will stress and depress you.
If it’s legal advice you’re after, that’ll cost you.
All in Magh Ene College wish to thank Niall for taking the time to complete this interview and wish him every success in his future career!