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Equal in the Eyes of the Law Profession

AUTHORs: Michael Jackson, Karen Reynolds Date: 26/01/2017

This month yet another drama series hit our TV screens depicting working in the legal profession as being sophisticated, glamorous and exciting. RTE’s Striking Out follows in the footsteps of popular series such as Ally McBeal, Suits and The Good Wife – although this time solicitors in Ireland are among its leading characters.

While the reality of working as a solicitor is not exactly as it is portrayed in Striking Out – particularly the speed with which cases are resolved – the profession continues to attract increasing numbers into its ranks here, especially women, and specialisation has become more prevalent.

At the end of last year, there were 10,200 practising solicitors in this country, which is an all-time high for the profession, according to the Law Society of Ireland. Of that number, 52% are female, according to its 2015 – 16 annual report.

“Ireland is a world leader in terms of the feminisation of the profession,” said Ken Murphy, director general of the Law Society. “In 2015, it became the first country in the world where the majority of practising solicitors are women.”

Karen Reynolds was one of 12 new partners appointed on January 1 at Matheson, which employs more than 600 people across its offices in Dublin, London, New York and Palo Alto. The firm takes in about 40 trainees a year.

Reynolds graduated in law from University College Dublin in 2003 and did a master’s in law at Trinity College Dublin the following year. Her two-and-a-half year traineeship at Matheson gave her a flavor of various departments and, when she finished in 2009, she decided to focus her efforts on working in the corporate area.

As the economy improved, Reynolds shifted more towards commercial litigation. The opportunity to avail of continuous professional development has been an important part of her progression to partner level, she said.

For example, she completed the Matheson Senior Associate programme at Cambridge Judge Business School in the UK, which helped to enhance her leadership and management skills.

The full version of this article first appeared in The Sunday Times on 22 January 2017 and should not be re-published without permission.