Katie Matthews, Law Plus (Economics)
I was delighted to have been accepted by the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) for my co-operative education placement. The CCPC was formed in 2014 as a result of an amalgamation of the National Consumer Agency and the Competition Authority. It is a statutory body with a dual mandate to enforce competition and consumer protection law in Ireland.
I was placed in the Legal Services Division, working mainly in the area of consumer protection law. Having never worked in an office before, it took me some time to get accustomed (the complexity of the photocopier was the biggest hurdle), but once acclimatised, the word I would use to describe the whole of my experience at the CCPC is “practical”.
Consumer protection law is a practical topic to have knowledge about.
The amount of times I was contacted by friends asking about warranties and other various consumer rights that summer was incredible. What was even more incredible was that I actually had the knowledge, thanks to my supervisor, Clara Thornton, who provided me with an interesting variety of work.
The Legal Services Division deals with legal queries and legal tasks in the CCPC, so I quickly had to become acquainted with the Consumer Protection Acts.
I was asked to assist in researching the answers to consumer queries received by the CCPC. The benefit of such a task cannot be overstated. In college, students deal with fictional problem questions which have a right or wrong answer. Answering real-life queries, there are variants of right and wrong, which is how professional lawyers are required to work in practice.
I also had the opportunity to attend a District Court hearing where the CCPC was a party to the proceedings.
helped to prepare the bundles for the hearing and had a chance to see how court hearings work in practice. Being aware of the Court procedure is fundamental to any legal career and I was fortunate to be able to assist in every step of the process, from compiling the documents, to seeing the case in action.
The CCPC is also an educational entity and hosts multiple seminars throughout the year. In my first week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to attend presentations from the German Competition Authority, the Bundeskartellamt. The CCPC also hosted Richard Whish, the Emeritus Professor of Law in King’s College London, who gave a detailed seminar on recent developments in EU and UK Competition Law. Prof. Whish is a prominent legal academic in the UK and has influenced modern UK and European competition law policies. It was a privilege to attend his lectures.
I would strongly recommend placement in the CCPC.
n addition to the variety of practical experience gained, the people within the CCPC are wonderful. All co-op students expect to start their work experience with a grave and intimidating supervisor who hands down menial work such as coffee runs or dry-cleaning collections. That is what I was expecting when entering the CCPC, however it couldn’t have been farther from the truth. The staff of the Legal Services Division are incredibly welcoming and the concept of “scary employer” is broken down upon the first conversation with any staff member within the organisation.
Anyone selected for placement in the CCPC should consider themselves fortunate and if any prospective co-op student wishes to contact me with questions in relation to my experience, he or she is welcome to do so.