This week in our MHC Life Series, we hear from Colm Farrell, Partner in our Dispute Resolution team at the firm. Colm chats about why he chose law and his favourite places.
Tell us a bit about you and your career journey to MHC – what inspired you to get into this career?
During transition year in secondary school I did work experience in a law firm, a radio station and a hotel kitchen. As I did not become a radio DJ, notwithstanding a brief stint as one while a teenager on a questionable station run from a friend’s bedroom, or a chef, who at the age of 16 ran the kitchen for a summer in a busy staff canteen, I guess that it was clear that I was destined to be a lawyer.
I studied Law & French in UCC, having toyed with the idea of studying music, and then completed a masters in Public Relations. Funnily, departing from the law, even temporarily to pursue my masters, made me realise that it was the career for me.
I applied for a traineeship in Mason Hayes & Curran and vividly recall my two interviews and the first person I met in our previous offices! I was subjected to some unusual questions from the then managing partner - was “what countries share a border with France” a trick question?
I secured my traineeship before completing my masters and used it, and the access it afforded me to the firm, as an opportunity to write my thesis on reputation management in the legal profession. The profession was getting a hammering at the time with stories of misappropriated funds flying around the media and the courts.
During my traineeship I was lucky enough to be sent to our London office to work with the partner seated there at the time – this was a pilot programme that continued for a number of years after. I was also seconded to a banking client of the firm for a time during my traineeship.
I qualified into commercial litigation which, incidentally, was also the first, and favourite, of my trainee rotations. I have since progressed through the ranks and was promoted to partner in April 2022.
Shortly after being promoted to senior associate I was seconded to a client of the firm – originally for 6 months which ultimately ended up lasting 14 months. Having spent my professional career up to that point in Mason Hayes & Curran, this allowed me an opportunity to see business from the client side and understand the inner workings of a large client.
I have worked on a number of interesting cases over the years, including some very quick paced injunctions. Getting a positive outcome for a client is very satisfying.
This summer I was involved in our internship process. I had the opportunity to speak to both sets of our summer interns shortly after they started the internship and again towards the end of the internship and was part of the panel evaluating the interns’ project work and presentations. I had the pleasure of offering two of the interns that worked with me training contracts and this has been a particular highlight in recent times.
Favourite thing about your role?
The varied nature of the work.
What was your first job?
I have had numerous and varied jobs prior to working at Mason Hayes & Curran, including teaching music, running a small family campsite in France and retail. However, my first job was picking strawberries on a local fruit farm at the age of 12 or so. As you can imagine, it was not a glamorous or particularly well paid job but as a young teenager the brown envelope at the end of the week, which definitely jiggled rather than folded, was very welcome!
Working and having an appreciation for money was always instilled in me and my siblings by my father in particular.
Talk us through a typical day for you
I live in the city centre so I generally walk to work. Even with flexible working since the pandemic my preference is to attend the office most days. For me working from home is very much the exception.
My working day starts with a review of my to-do-list, revising that list to have regard to additional items that have arisen and assigning tasks to colleagues.
While I focus on property and landlord & tenant disputes, I also advise on various contractual and tort case. As a result, the work is varied and, while cliché, very few days are the same.
A typical day will be a mix of meetings, calls, attending court, drafting various correspondence and pleadings and working with colleagues in my own and other departments, counsel, other firms and most importantly clients.
When the day ends, I typically walk home and head to the gym followed by a late dinner and a TV show that I will have on in the background while catching up on whatsapps. As my friends will know, ironing is a common feature of my winter evenings in particular!
What pastimes do you enjoy?
One of my favourite pastimes is travel.
Like many others, COVID ruined many travel plans over the course of two years resulting in cancelled trips and being on hold to various airlines for what felt like an eternity to arrange refunds!
Pre-COVID I was always on the lookout for an unusual destination. However, more recently I have realised that Europe has lots to offer that I had been overlooking in recent years.
What books have you read recently?
I recently read “Girl A” by Abigail Dean, having picked it up at the airport. Without spoiling the story, it deals with the horrors experienced by a number of siblings at the hands of their abusive parents and the impact it has on each in later life.
After reading the book and a little bit of googling I understand that the story was inspired by some real life events but not of the author herself.
Unless a book grabs my attention in the first couple of pages, this usually involves a murder, it can sometimes become a chore to read. However, given my stubborn nature I will persevere until the last page. Happily this book did catch my attention and I read most of it in a hammock on a beach in Greece!
As well as the story itself being a thriller, I was interested to see that the author is a lawyer who took time out and now works in Google.
What's your idea of a perfect holiday?
Sitting on a beach in Pamilican Island in the Philippines having watched whales and dolphins on the boat trip from Cebu.
Or, closer to home, sitting on the bench beside St Declan’s well on the cliff walk in Ardmore, Co Waterford where my family has holidayed since the 70s (…long before my time).