Hello! My name is Shannon and I am a current student in the Honourable Society of Kings inns undergoing the barrister at law degree. I have hopes to qualify as a barrister in 2021, and to go forth and practice in criminal law in 2022.
I began my journey of legal studies in 2015 straight after I finished my leaving certificate. I was passionate about the law at this point in my life, although I was still young, and I had a lot of questions to be answered.
I had a huge inspiration for choosing law, that being my older brother, John (pseudonym). My brother was fined for a driving offence, and, aged 17, didn’t work and therefore had no means of paying such fine. Due to this, my brother was imprisoned for not paying the fine. During his time in an Irish prison, he made connections all for the worst. To summarise it up ever since his first sentence he has been in and out of the prison system. On one occasion I recall being in court aged 14 watching my brothers’ trial for theft due to his addiction. I witnessed him telling the trial judge that prison is not working for him, by constantly being in and out, he was not learning his lesson. He also told the judge at age 27, it was the first time in his life he realised he had a drink and drug addiction. The trial judge refused to hear this and admitted him to prison again.
Me at 14 years of age was so upset, hurt, and confused because the big brother that cared for me was not a bad mad nor a person who should be in prison as prison was making him worse. Instead, I thought he was a person whom society chose to ignore.
I thought there must be a way I can help others and speak up for them, and that was when I got an interest in law.
Further to this, I come from a family of 9, with 7 children. I have 4 older siblings and 2 youngers. The area I grew up in is known for criminality and being a disadvantaged area. The public school I attended was also known as being disadvantaged. I had every opportunity growing up to take the criminal path in life, but I have seen what it does to people first-hand and I decided to go the opposite route. I have been the first in my family to attend a third level institute, to attain not only a degree in law but further a masters. My goal is to set an example for my younger two siblings and show them that we can do it.
Really, it’s not about where you are from it’s about the motivation in you to make things happen. I believe everybody has the brains to do it, its whether we chose to use them.
I never had the support many students get. My successes are solely down to my own hard work, which shows it is possible. The feeling of self-pride is a feeling like no other, and every time I surprise myself.
The barriers I faced in my legal education, would be due to being from a disadvantaged school and area. My vocabulary was not great, my spelling also. Those are major traits you need to have when studying law. These skills are still my barriers today but I don’t let it stop me. The law is supposed to be clear and simple; I tell myself this all the time so I don’t need to know big words in order to be good. I now tell myself I deserve to be where I am, I am as good as everyone else and that is what keeps me motivated.
Financial burdens were also barriers, but the state provides great funding for students in great difficulty, I was classed as such and due to the Susi grant I was able and am still able to get to where I need to be. If I didn’t have a grant, I can admit I wouldn’t be persuing a career in law and, who knows, I could have possibly taken up the life of criminality. I have been very lucky to-date to be getting such help from the state and I will forever be grateful.
As I’m sure you can tell, my focus is in Criminal Law. I believe people act in certain ways due to underlying issues, these people need voices to speak up for them and try to get them the help they need that will be of benefit. I believe I am the best person to do this. I can relate to a life of crime and advise on the path to take to steer a person away from it.
The main piece of advice I have for anyone thinking of persuing a career in law would be never let anything stop you, you are good enough and you are capable but never forget your roots because they made me who I am, and they will make you who you are too.
If my story has reached one person today I have achieved enough. If you would like to reach out to me, I am always happy to help, talk and give advice you can find me on my Instagram. Always remember to stay positive and stay focused!
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