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Matheson Diversity in Law Fellow appointed at UCD Sutherland School of Law

Services: Impactful Business Programme Date: 19/02/2024

Pictured (L-R): Nicola White, Director of Learning and Development, Matheson; Dr Saoirse Enright, Matheson Diversity in Law Newman Fellow; Michael Jackson, Managing Partner, Matheson; Dr Sara Benedí Lahuerta, Lecturer and Assistant Professor, UCD Sutherland School of Law; and Professor Laurent Pech, Dean of Law and Head of the UCD Sutherland School of Law.

Newly appointed Fellow will spearhead research for increased access to the legal profession

Matheson has today welcomed the announcement of the appointment of Dr Saoirse Enright as the Matheson Diversity in Law Newman Fellow at the UCD Sutherland School of Law.

Dr Enright will join the law school to deliver a two-year, interdisciplinary project focused on identifying the barriers faced by under-represented groups to pursue a career in the legal profession in Ireland, and aims to lead to the development of current and new initiatives to improve access to law degrees and the profession more broadly.  Dr Enright’s work will be conducted under the supervision of Dr Sara Benedí Lahuerta.

Professor Laurent Pech, Dean of Law and Head of the Sutherland School of Law said: "Dr Enright is a welcome addition to UCD Sutherland School of Law. Her research will allow us to better understand what barriers under-represented groups are facing to becoming practising lawyers, thus informing new initiatives for a more diverse legal workforce.  We look forward to seeing the outcome of this project and the impact it will have on the legal profession in Ireland. This project would not be possible without the generous support from Matheson.  Matheson are the first law firm to support a Newman Fellowship at UCD and we are incredibly grateful for their contribution."

Matheson has funded the Matheson Diversity in Law Newman Fellowship to support research-based evidence in the field of access to legal education for under-represented groups, and to identify hurdles experienced by those groups to access and remain in the legal profession.

Michael Jackson, Managing Partner, Matheson, said: "The Matheson Diversity in Law Newman Fellowship is a key component of Matheson’s commitment to diversity and inclusion (D&I) as part of our Impactful Business Programme.  To create a truly diverse and inclusive profession, we are matching our efforts to create a diverse workplace that values and celebrates differences, with the broader need to understand barriers to entry to the legal profession.  Law firms and practising lawyers who have a more informed understanding of the barriers to entry should be able to more effectively empower and assist students and graduates from diverse backgrounds to overcome those barriers and pursue successful careers as practising lawyers.  We are delighted that the Fellowship has attracted someone with Dr Enright’s experience and commitment to this area, and we look forward to her findings following two years of research."

Welcoming the appointment of Dr Enright, her supervisor, Dr Sara Benedí Lahuerta said: "It is my pleasure to welcome Dr Saoirse Enright to UCD Sutherland School of Law.  Dr Enright recently completed an Irish Research Council Funded PhD at the University of Limerick under the supervision of Dr Laura Cahillane and also holds a first class honours in Bachelor of Laws as well as a Master of Laws.  This is an important area of research and it is wonderful to have someone with Dr Enright’s level of experience taking up the role.  I’m really looking forward to working with Dr Enright on this project."

Dr Saoirse Enright said: "Despite much effort across the profession, many under-represented groups still face barriers to pursuing a career in law. This research project will seek to understand these barriers and identify what changes and initiatives need to be introduced so that we can create a profession that reflects the population it serves.  I’m delighted to be taking up the role of Matheson Diversity in Law Newman Fellow at UCD Sutherland School of Law and contributing to the creation of a more diverse and inclusive legal profession.  It is my ambition that this research may also inform actions to implement the National Access Plan 2022-2028."

She added: "I feel privileged to have received a Newman Fellowship.  This prestigious award will allow me to enhance my research skills and create knowledge for a better world by providing me with the means to explore a cutting-edge research topic that is long overdue."

The Fellowship is part of the wider Newman Fellowship Programme at UCD, which since its establishment in 1989, has seen leading Irish and multinational corporations, semi-state bodies, voluntary organisations and individuals support high-calibre, post-doctoral research across the humanities and sciences. Matheson is the first law firm to support a Newman Fellowship at UCD. 

The Matheson Impactful Business Programme is designed to enhance the impact the firm makes by aligning and integrating its D&I, corporate social responsibility, environmental sustainability, arts and pro bono strategies within one dedicated programme.  Matheson was the first organisation in Ireland to achieve the Investors in Diversity Gold Standard Award from the Irish Centre for Diversity for its commitment to D&I practices and, in 2022, became the first organisation to achieve re-accreditation of the Gold Standard.


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