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Superior Courts Internship Student Experience

Superior Courts Internship Programme 2016 Dara O’Dwyer

In March of this year I was delighted to be informed that I was one of two students chosen by the University of Limerick to take part in this year’s Superior Courts Internship Programme. As part of this programme two students from each Irish university, as well as several students from New York’s Fordham Law School, spent one month assigned to a Superior Court judge.

The programme began in June and finished at the beginning of July. For his period I was fortunate enough to be assigned to the Hon. Judge Birmingham of the Court of Appeal. My responsibilities, such as conducting research, preparing memos and attending court with the judge on a daily basis offered me wide exposure to the inner workings of the judicial system in Ireland. The welcoming nature of all the Court Service staff and in particular the judge cannot be overstated and ensured a positive learning experience for the duration of the programme.

The programme is organised by the office of the Chief Justice and as a result we were given the opportunity on several occasions to meet with the Chief Justice for informal discussions in relation to the programme, our experience and the Irish legal system in general. Such an opportunity was a particular highlight for me and the experience is not something I expect any other internship programme in the country would be able to provide.

The programme gave me the opportunity to observe a number of interesting cases. In order to supplement the time spent with our judges a lecture series was organised in honour of the late Justice Hardiman of the Supreme Court. Interns were provided with the chance to attend truly fascinating lectures, provided by members of the Bar, leading legal professionals and members of the judiciary, on issues such as the freedom of expression in judgment writing in common law and civil law cases, catastrophic medical negligence cases and the challenges facing the EU.

I would strongly recommend that all eligible students apply to this programme. It is a truly unique experience littered with magnificent networking opportunities. The University of Limerick is kind enough to provide a bursary to aid students who wish to take part in the programme and I would strongly recommend application. If any prospective intern has any questions in relation to the programme they are more than welcome to contact me.