Pinsent Masons welcomes Sixth Form pupils to Belfast office

Pinsent Masons welcomes Sixth Form pupils to Belfast office

Pinsent Masons welcomed a group of 40 students from across Northern Ireland to its Belfast office as part of its Schools’ Work Inspiration Day initiative.

Pupils from Ashfield Girls, Belfast Boys’ Model, De la Salle, Dromore High, Larne Grammar, Methody, Our Lady and St Patrick’s, and partner school Lagan College were among those participating in the scheme, which is designed to widen access to the different key specialist areas of law.

Organised in conjunction with Business in the Community Northern Ireland, the educational initiative, which first started in 2016, has been designed to offer AS and A Level students who are considering a career in the legal profession with an informative and interactive insight.

At the firm’s Soloist Building headquarters at Lanyon Place last week, pupils at the bi-annual workshop had the opportunity to hear from judge and former barrister Dame Denise Anne McBride DBE, who specialises in international, chancery, family and civil law.

Andrea McIlroy-Rose, head of the Belfast office and head of the Belfast property team and UK retail property team, said: “It was fantastic that everyone involved with the Schools’ Work Inspiration Day got so much out of it.

“Students heard about the fantastic law courses at universities and what working for a global law firm looks like and had the opportunity to partake in thought-provoking and skill development exercises.

“Encouraging, identifying and nurturing the next generation of legal professionals from Northern Ireland is a fundamental aspect of the work that we do at Pinsent Masons in Belfast. We know that these days can inspire young people and help to show them what is possible; earlier this year, we had our first trainee join us, having previously been invited along to the Schools’ Work Inspiration Day’.”

A series of ice breaker activities with Pinsent Masons’ trainee solicitors got the day underway before Madam Justice McBride delivered her keynote speech exploring the many different aspects of the legal world, including how she became the first of two women to be appointed to the High Court in Belfast back in October 2015, and how being resilient and a positive networker are both key to ensuring success in the legal field.

In a presentation, Gill Warwick, HR and operations manager at Pinsent Masons Belfast, set out the reasons why students should consider a career in law before exploring how they can get started, and the opportunities that exist to make this possible, including PRIME — the legal profession’s commitment to ensuring fair access to summer work experience for those people from less privileged backgrounds who do not have the right contacts to call upon.

The baton was then passed over to Pinsent Masons’ current cohort of associate and trainee solicitors who co-ordinated a number of mock interview group exercises before Anna Rowan BL, a barrister in commercial, company, insolvency, and land law, spoke at length about how a typical working day might look, and the route that she took to receive her call to the bar.

Following lunch and a tour of the offices, talks were delivered by Dr Kevin J. Brown, director of internationalisation and Reader at Queen’s University Belfast School of Law, and Amanda Zacharopoulou, Reader at Ulster University School of Law.

These happened either side of roundtable discussions on legal roles, and a Q&A session with Legal PA Julie Blakely, trainee solicitor Lauren Murphy, senior product services engineer in technology services Nadia Thompson, and associate David Small.

The successful event was organised by Ms Warwick and associates Jodie Rankin, Meghan Kirk and Aisling Taggart.

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