Just A Minute: Julie-Ann McCaffrey
This week Julie-Ann McCaffrey of Cleaver Fulton Rankin Solicitors in Belfast speaks to Irish Legal News for our regular Just A Minute feature.
ILN: What has been your best experience as a lawyer?
I am fortunate to have worked as part of the team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin advising in some leading construction and procurement cases in Northern Ireland.
This year I was elected as Chair of the Northern Ireland Young Solicitors’ Association. In my role as Chair, I had the privilege of hosting the European Young Bar Association Conference in April 2016, securing attorney Jerry Buting from Netflix “Making a Murderer” as the key note speaker.
I was also recently appointed Vice-President of the EYBA which is another career highlight.
ILN: What has been your worst experience as a lawyer?
Thankfully I have had few bad experiences in my career to date as a lawyer. Being a lawyer is a demanding job but I enjoy the thrill of being involved in complex cases and getting good results for clients.
It is important to act promptly in procurement cases but unfortunately clients are often unaware of the strict limitation periods that apply. This can be frustrating for clients who seek legal advice late during a procurement process and are effectively out of time for using some of their best arguments.
ILN: Why did you choose the law?
I originally wanted to be a journalist! I decided to study law in order to broaden my options after university. I completed a degree in Business and Law at University College Dublin and it became clear during my studies that I had a strong interest in the application of the law.
ILN: Who or what has been the greatest professional influence in your life?
The greatest professional influence in my life is my employer, Cleaver Fulton Rankin. I have worked at the firm since commencing my training contract and the firm has shaped my professional career to date. The firm has supported and encouraged my numerous endeavours including my work with the Northern Ireland Young Solicitors’ Association, organising mediation training initiatives and various charitable activities.
ILN: What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in the law?
My advice would be to gain work experience with a solicitor or barrister as a student as this will help you to decide if a career in law is the correct career path. I was fortunate enough to have gained experience in two solicitors’ offices as an undergraduate student. A lot of solicitors’ offices offer placement schemes particularly over the summer break.
ILN: What would you want to be if you were not a lawyer?
I enjoy writing so I probably would have followed my initial plans for a career in journalism! Or perhaps I would be a professional musician!
ILN: How do you relax after work?
I am an Irish Traditional singer and enjoy playing music and song-writing in my spare time. I also enjoy spending time with friends and family at home in the stunning landscapes of Fermanagh.
ILN: What is your favourite holiday destination and why?
My favourite holiday destination is Rome. I love the history, the architecture and of course the Italian food!