This week in our MHC Life series, we speak to Dorit McCann, a Partner on our Competition & Antitrust team. Dorit talks us through a typical day of a Competition lawyer, and what she would love to do if she wasn't a lawyer.
Tell us a bit about you and your career journey to MHC – what inspired you to get into this career?
I finished school in Germany and did a gap year in Belfast as I didn’t know what I wanted to study and thought it would be a good idea to improve my English. I started rowing while in Belfast and that’s how I met my husband…little did I know that I would still be in Ireland 30 years later! I didn’t know what I wanted to study but was inspired by a visit to the Supreme Court in Washington and a Harrison Ford movie during my gap year. I initially had aspirations to do criminal law (à la Harrison Ford) but a fantastic EU lecturer, Sharon Turner, at Queen’s University in Belfast got me hooked on EU law. I love competition and procurement law because you get in-depth knowledge about clients’ businesses in a wide range of sectors.
What was your first job?
I always had a job from the age of about 14 years – I did everything from babysitting, waitressing, cleaning and writing, taking photos and doing deliveries for the local newspaper. My first legal job was in London where I had an (unpaid) internship while staying in a hostel dorm. Luckily, I managed to secure a training contract at Clifford Chance in London shortly after that and could afford a proper place to live.
Talk us through a typical day for you
I advise on competition, State aid and procurement matters so no two days are really the same. On the competition side, I might work on a merger notification or advise on competition issues related to a corporate transaction or a commercial contract. If I am working on a procurement matter, I might draft or review procurement documents for a public tender or advise a public body in relation to an issue which has arisen during a procurement process. I might also get a call from a private sector client who has been unsuccessful in a tender and would like to get advice on how to challenge the award of a contract and the strength of his/her case. In those situations, the first step tends to be a letter to the public body, challenging the award decision on a number of grounds.
If I wasn’t a lawyer, I would ........
Own a bookshop with an adjacent coffee shop – two of my favourite past times combined!
There are many – often I translate a German quote into English which makes no sense in English but it always gets a laugh, like “there lies the hare in the pepper” (“Da liegt der Hase im Pfeffer”) which means something like “that’s the crux of the matter” or “the squirrel eats laboriously”(“Mühsam ernährt sich das Eichhörnchen”) which means “slowly but surely”. But the one I use most often is probably “you always have a choice”, usually in response to one of my children admitting that they have done something but that they “didn’t have a choice”.
What books have you read recently?
"Lessons in Chemistry", "The Nightingale", "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" – I loved them all.
What's your idea of a perfect holiday/favourite place you've ever visited?
I avoid beach holidays – I get bored after about half an hour lying on the beach. I love walking and hiking. I have travelled extensively but Italy is my favourite country and in particular South Tyrol, in the North of Italy. For me, it has everything – spectacular mountain scenery, good weather, great food.
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