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This week in our MHC Life series, we speak to Donnacha Hennessy, a senior associate on our Health & Prosecutions team. Donnacha talks about his scenic career journey and his favourite pastimes.​

​Tell us a bit about you and your career journey to MHC – what inspired you to get into this career?

My career journey to law and MHC was somewhat scenic and Robert Frost's 'The Road Not Taken' certainly comes to mind. I was raised on a dairy farm in Tipperary and, despite vague notions of perhaps farming one day, I really had no idea what I wanted to do with myself. So, I studied Agricultural Science in UCD, specialising in Food Science. Upon graduating, I spent a number of years working with two global food companies, in the former as a sales developer driving a 40-foot rigid truck and in the latter as a member of a two-year graduate programme.

Whilst working in the latter role, a colleague queried why I had never considered studying law and this triggered my interest to explore the legal sphere further and commence my legal studies. I loved the idea of studying and understanding the rationale behind legal processes, how they work and imparting effective strategic advice to clients in a friendly, accessible and down to earth manner. I trained in a firm with a specialisation in Child Care Law, established and managed my own Child Care practice for a period of 8 years and joined MHC in January 2023.

Career highlight?

There have been a few but the one that sticks out most is not the most glamourous. It was a childcare case where I represented a vulnerable parent in a very weak legal position in a regional District Court. It was a highly contentious case, but I succeeded in strategically out-manoeuvring three opposing legal teams and significantly strengthened my client's position to the point where they were in the driving seat, so to speak. It was an 'against the odds' case which really tested me, and I could honestly say my strategic approach had a huge impact which turned my client's fortunes around. I know I really made a difference in that case and, I suppose, that's why it stands out.

Favourite thing about MHC?

The culture. My first 'interaction' with MHC was prior to joining the firm when I would meet colleagues from MHC in the Child Care Courts who were always highly professional, courteous and genuinely lovely individuals. When I joined MHC in January, the warm welcome, the genuineness of character of the people and the almost joyful pursuit of excellence really struck me. For me personally, genuineness is very important – and MHC is genuine. It has also come to my attention that numerous members of the Health & Prosecutions team are very talented artistically/musically and I am attempting to persuade them to bring their instruments and talents to the next team get together!

Talk us through a typical day for you

The great thing is that there is no typical day due to the variety of our areas of expertise. The day starts with a review of morning emails, responding to anything urgent immediately and then moving on to the 'to do' list for that day which may include management of special care processes, District Court Childcare Advocacy or preparation for a Court hearing, liaising with clients by phone and email in relation to Care Order hearings, organising and managing Care Order witness lists, preparation of original material for Trinity lectures, review and creation of data protection procedures for the Health & Prosecutions team due to the delicate nature of our work and, generally, dealing with any strategic issues or queries that come up on a daily basis. Variety is the spice of life and work is never boring as our partners ensure that everyone has an interesting mix.

What sports/hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy?

I once played hurling adequately (when you come from Tipp and live in Kilkenny you don't really have an option!). I try to run (5-8km) as frequently as I can in a desperate attempt to remain in some sort of reasonable shape, but it varies from week to week.

I love reading good books when I have the time and love film.

I love to mountain walk or beach walk and I enjoy music of many varieties. I have been known to sing a song when repeatedly cajoled although I may need to google the lyrics (never been asked to sing two songs in a row though..)

I have also discovered the therapeutic and sometimes exhausting effects of maintaining a large garden.

If I wasn't a lawyer, I would be........

Garden landscaper (I believe they are raking it in – especially in Autumn).

​One thing most people don't know about you?

I love old clocks – and apparently, I snore when very tired

I also have a secret desire to smoke a pipe (just once on a Sunday afternoon) – but I won't act on it.

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