This week in our MHC Life series, we speak to recently promoted Healthcare & Medical Partner, Jennifer Henry. Jennifer tells us about her first job, renovating her home and what she is looking forward to most when life returns to normality post-COVID.
Tell us a bit about you and your career journey to MHC – what inspired you to get into this career?
I was interested in law from an early age, which must come from being a diplomatic Libra, but I was also passionate about art in school. I originally had architecture in DIT down on my CAO form but changed it to law just minutes before the deadline. I studied in University College Cork and then completed a Masters in Trinity College in the same year as doing my FE1’s and working in a local solicitor’s office, I’m a glutton for punishment!.
I trained in medical law from the start and mainly represented plaintiffs until I qualified in 2009. One of my best friends was training to be a doctor and as a trainee, I used to lecture her on good note taking! After qualification, an opportunity arose to get involved in defence litigation acting for private consultants so I immediately took it to get a broader sense of both sides. I ultimately stayed in defence litigation and moved on to represent a wide range of hospitals and healthcare services.
I joined MHC in February 2020, just before we went into lockdown. Medical law is a small world, especially in Ireland, so I was fortune to know many people on my team already and also, I had a few weeks to integrate before life was turned on its head.
Favourite thing about your role?
I find the area of medical law and medicine fascinating. I am the eternal student! There is so much to learn and it is rare that two cases are entirely alike. There is also a very real human aspect to our work. There is no doubt that the area is an emotive and sensitive one and its presents its own challenges. I work with a great team and we strive to adopt a collaborate approach from the start. We use mediation regularly which works so well, particularly in COVID times, when we still need to deal with fast moving litigation as quickly as before. I find it very rewarding.
What was your first job?
My first job was as the prefect on our school bus when I was 12 years old. No particular skills were required other than being one of the oldest and living the furthest from the school so that you were on board for as long as possible. To my dismay, payment was in prize bonds. I sold them to my mother for a profit, I loved to negotiate even then, but I ultimately lost out as she has won on them twice!
Talk us through a typical day for you during the COVID-19 pandemic…
A toddler alarm clock at 6.30am singing “I like to move it, move it”, inspired by the movie Madagascar, is our wakeup call. The toughest negotiations of my day then commence before we are finally out to door to crèche by 7.30am. I go for a run or a walk to get some fresh air before the day starts. I am usually at the laptop by 9am catching up on emails and news with lots of coffee. My WFH day takes on a similar format to what it would be in the office; the only difference being that all consultations, settlements and mediations have now moved onto virtual platforms. I do miss the social interaction and the in person coffee chats. In addition to team calls, the day usually involves contact with clients, experts, counsel, and drafting paperwork. Generally, I am handling at least one urgent fast tracked case at any given time so that usually takes up a number of hours each day. We have crèche pickup around 5pm and then it’s all about dinner, playtime and the wind-down for bed at 7pm. I am then generally back on the laptop to finish up a few things and then it’s a call with friends or my parents, a good book or the latest series. We are currently watching “Behind Her Eyes”.
What are you most looking forward to when normality prevails?
To hug my parents; being able to freely travel to our home county of Meath so that our toddler can spend more time with family; sushi with my best friend; a good espresso martini; a cinema trip; a live music gig, even if it is pouring rain; weekend brunches with friends; strolling Mediterranean city streets in the sunshine!
What sports/hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy?
I am not a sporty person but I took up running a few years ago. It’s a great way to clear your head either before or after a busy day.
My main pastime for the last few years has been renovating our Edwardian home. It is still a work in progress! We have given the house a modern lift while also painfully restoring the original period features. I think I may now qualify as a professional floor sander, layer of parquet flooring (don’t do it) and painter at this stage. However, we are a disastrous combination of two perfectionists so the work has taken us much longer than we originally anticipated. Maybe 2021 is the year……!
One thing most people don’t know about you?
Despite working in medical law my entire career, I cannot cope with the sight of blood. About 10 years ago, I met a surgeon client just outside of theatre as it was the only time available to get an urgent statement. He arrived in scrubs covered in fresh blood and I very nearly hit the floor. Yes, I’m a fainter!
“If you can't explain it to a six year old, you don't understand it yourself.” ― Albert Einstein