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Co Operative placement in the Department of Justice and Equality - Aoife Finlay

21.01.2020
Aoife Finlay

I carried out my cooperative placement in the Department of Justice and Equality, this was the first year that the Department has ever taken on Legal Interns and so I was delighted to have been chosen. The Interns were placed across a number of areas including, Criminal Legislation, Civil Legislation, Policing and Probation. I was assigned to the Legal Services Support Unit within the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Services. The Legal Services Support Unit mainly deals with judicial reviews brought against the Department in relation to a variety of immigration related cases. My placement period was from May 2019 to January 2020, for the duration of eight months. Any apprehensions I had before beginning coop were quickly laid to rest. The staff in my office were extremely helpful, friendly and enthusiastic about the arrival of myself and the other Intern from the outset. This made the working environment an extremely positive place to be and helped to put us at ease straight away.
As I had not studied any immigration law in college prior to my placement, it was vitally important that I worked to grasp a good understanding of the legislation and case law as this is what I would be working with for the next eight months. Thankfully, the team in LSSU had an array of resources and training manuals to make this task easier. Once I had a better understanding of the fundamentals of this area of law, I began to complete various tasks. Some of my responsibilities included compiling a number of judgment summaries of landmark cases, attending Court proceedings and consultations, working alongside the Citizenship and International Protection unit on research projects, managing the legal queries inbox, updating databases to ensure consistency and investigating issues surrounding costs. I also attended workshops on ‘Discovery’ and ‘Judicial Reviews’ in the Chief State Solicitors Office and had numerous chances to network with counsel and court officials.
During my time in the Department of Justice and Equality, I have learnt a myriad of things. From skills, I can solely apply to the workplace to more universal skills in which I can apply in my everyday personal life. I feel that my time spent in LSSU has been invaluable and something I will appreciate long into the future, which I can look back on with fond memories. It has shaped my mind-set in a new and refreshing way, making me excited about a career in law in the future.