“I didn’t want to work with one business, I wanted to work with numerous businesses”
Matthew completely changed career paths to pursue his dream of becoming a barrister. With a passion for negotiations and the business aspect of the law, he hopes to work with many businesses in the future as a self-employed lawyer. During coronavirus, he was looking for professional development opportunities to push himself through Linkedin when he found Forage.
Originally not knowing what he wanted to do out of school, Matthew fell into the culinary industry. He went to the Limerick Institute of Technology for Culinary Arts and even started his own restaurant. Through starting his own business, he rediscovered his passion for law through the negotiations he went through. He discovered that his favorite part was building up the business, and decided to go back to school for law. Currently, he has supplemented his law education with many opportunities such as being the Conventions Director for the Law Society of NUI, Accelerate Mentorship Programme Intern at Arthur Cox, and as a Content Writer with International Legal League.
“I saw it as a challenge to yourself because you could see what the real world is actually like and where to adjust”
After discovering Forage, Matthew worked on the programs over the summer and successfully completed 4 different experiences through Forage: Grant Thornton Australia Audit Virtual Experience, the Latham & Watkins’ Mergers & Acquisitions Virtual Experience Program, the McGrathNicol’s Restructuring Virtual Experience, and King &Wood Mallesons’ Global Introduction to Law Program. Through these programs, he notes how “it gave me a better insight into the actual day-to-day as a commercial lawyer, what the actual work directly entails.”
Having this insight is crucial as it can help with landing a job. Matthew said completing the programs “is a selling point for when you go into interviews as you can say I just did this Mergers and Acquisitions which really sparked my interest and showed me how things are done.” He enjoyed and appreciated the process as it challenged him while giving him practical skills in his field at the same time.
“Law is immensely competitive in every country, therefore, when you can take your off periods to work on something practical, it really does set you apart”
Matthew developed some of his practical skills through the experiences, bridging the gap between education and real world. “In terms of the law experiences, it was not focused on in-depth areas of law, it was the practical skills like what to identify in an NDA, how to draft an NDA, and where do you see possible changes in disclosure agreements.” These types of skills are what are needed to supplement law school education. He claims the experience in general “aided in securing me a year’s placement as a student lawyer at a top 9 commercial law firm RDJ commencing in September.”
Generally, he found that “it was my critical thinking and how to spot little things that were being worked on.” Overall, he finds the programs beneficial as “it all comes back to having a resource, that did not cost me anything, to just sit down and work through it at my own pace and time and it just provided such an extra layer of depth to my resume”
“The biggest mistake is being afraid to ask questions or argue”
Matthew had two major pieces of advice for those pursuing law. First, he stresses that “to approach any topic in law you need an opinion, you need to challenge your peers, your lecturers, even established case law in regard to application. What that means is, pick a side of the argument that you believe is right or the most suitable and apply the law in a way that supports that side. Challenging yourself, others and the law is pivotal to growth in the legal sectors.”
The second half of his advice is more geared towards finding a career as he stresses the importance of “using opportunities to develop your own skills outside of law school.” Professional development and networking are key in a field as competitive as law. Therefore, he says “academia is only the basis” so it is important to “give yourself the time to work on your professional growth.”
Connect with Matthew on Linkedin here.
Follow Forage on LinkedIn here.