Aside from the views of JP as GC, we take the opportunity to listen in on a Q&A with two members of JP’s legal department at Translink. Clare McLaughlin is the senior company lawyer in the team and Clare Downey is the Company’s property and prosecutions lawyer. They have the following soundbytes for us:
JP: What do you like most about being an In-house lawyer?
Clare Mclaughlin: “Being ‘the fixer’. The rather unique role of being the confidant of those who have made an error or expect the world to come crashing down. Your clients expect you to be able to correct/rectify any problem whether legal or otherwise. The variety of work is fantastic. One minute you’re advising on whether dogs are or should be allowed on trains and the next negotiating a contract for the Commonwealth Games.’
JP: What is your least favourite thing about being an In-house lawyer?
Clare McLaughlin – ‘Flying solo at least once a week. You need a lot of resolve and guts to make decisions, be sure of your own research and run forward with the rugby ball without dropping it, as my boss is often telling me. The feeling of solo working on projects or matters where your legal colleagues are not also involved can be daunting, especially if you’ve moved from a sizeable private practice team. It’s vital that you build links with a network of other inhouse lawyers.’
JP: What is the most important determinant of being a successful In-house lawyer? Clare Downey – ‘Being multilingual! Until I started with Translink’s legal team I had only experienced the familiar language and concepts of a law firm and had taken it for granted that my peers and I spoke in the same terms. But being part of Northern Ireland’s biggest utility which amongst its 4000 staff employs engineers, accountants, safety experts, transport managers, HR gurus, schedulers, train drivers, and IT/cyber specialists, calls for immediate dexterity across a whole new range of business disciplines. I had to adjust immediately to engender trust and have intelligent conversations about legal risks impacting on a whole host of business functions.’
JP: How has your move in-house affected your career – positively or negatively?
Clare Downey- ‘Without hesitation my experience has been positive. I am confident in tackling complicated pieces of work which I would previously have found to be very daunting and consequently, I have developed into a more resourceful lawyer. I add value to the business in that I can identify potential legal pit-falls earlier and offer wrap-around services which go way beyond providing one-off abstracts of legal advice - such as drafting, negotiating, deal-closing, and risk management advice.’
The Law Society of Northern Ireland takes the opportunity to listen in on a Q&A with two members of JP Irvine’s legal department at Translink. Clare McLaughlin is the senior company lawyer in the team and Clare Downey is the Company’s property and prosecutions lawyer. Read on to hear what they have to say.