This week in our MHC Life Series, we hear from Stephen Gillick, Partner and Head of our Pensions team. Stephen chats about his career highlight and meeting spiderman.
Tell us a bit about you and your career journey to MHC – what inspired you to get into this career?
My legal journey started in somewhat unusual circumstances as I studied Science in UCD. I really enjoyed studying Science but, in terms of a career, Law looked like the more attractive option. I spent a year in what was then DIT studying a Post-Graduate Diploma in Legal Studies before I sat the Blackhall exams. My first proper legal job was an in-house lawyer with an Insurance Company where I found my niche in Pensions Law. I honed my skills in another Dublin Law firm before joining Mason Hayes & Curran in 2015. I remember Melanie Crowley interviewed me on her birthday – now that’s commitment! I’ve enjoyed every moment since and have even represented Mason Hayes & Curran in the prestigious Law Society football tournament. In representing three different teams over the years I surely have set some sort of record?
My career highlight involves a pensions case that we worked on several years ago for a client in the charities sector. The client had a pensions issue which, if not resolved, could have led to the charity folding. The matter went all the way to the Labour Court, which was very unusual for a pensions dispute. The case involved quite technical aspects of pensions law and, I am very pleased to say, our client prevailed and is still carrying out fantastic work to this day. Every time I see their logo or their name mentioned in the media I afford myself a small smile.
Talk us through a typical day for you
Like so many people, I am juggling work and family life. My wife, Ciara, is currently on maternity leave so she is largely looking after our two boys, Giles and St John. The working day revolves around team meetings, client calls and working on all manner of advice on pensions related issues. The team advises a large number of employers, trustees and pensions providers on all aspects of pensions law. When not at my desk, the four of us can usually be found in the National Botanic Gardens where we love to go for a walk. I majored in Botany in UCD so you would think I could give a tour of the Gardens but I can barely distinguish a Daffodil from a Rose! When our kids hit the hay we might watch a bit of TV to wind down, we’ve just started Ozark which looks good so far.
What was your first job?
Long before I was a Partner in Mason Hayes & Curran, I cut my commercial teeth by selling rhubard from a wheelbarrow to my neighbours in Glasnevin. I supplemented this rather meagre income by delivering newspapers, leaflets and anything else that was capable of fitting through a letterbox. My favourite student job was as a barman in Dublin. I spent some time working in the now defunct “Fireworks” on Tara Street. You are showing your age if you remember it! All the barmen were dressed as Firemen and I’m pleased to say no photo of that time exists! It was most certainly the Celtic Tiger years back then as the most popular drink by far was two vodkas and a red bull in a pint glass @ £10.80 a drink!
What books have you read recently?
I just finished a book that was written about the horrific events of 9/11 called “The Only Plane in The Sky”. The book acts as a chilling record of the terrible events of 9/11. It is written using personal testimonies from a large number of individuals involved in events that day such as the survivors, first responders and political leaders. I could not recommend it highly enough. I still remember the day so vividly and it’s important that future generations are reminded of what happened on 9/11, books like this have an important role to play in that regard.
Have you ever met anyone famous?
A long time and two children ago, my wife and I were going on holidays to Bali, and we managed to get an upgrade to Business Class. Whilst sipping our champagne as the plane taxied on the runway I noticed an individual with long grey hair wearing a blue leather jumpsuit with his name emblazoned on the back. It was none other than Alain Robert, also known as the French Spiderman. He is known for free climbing tall buildings such as the Eiffel Tower and the Petronas Towers. I took advantage of our captive situation on the plane to have a quick chat with him using my leaving certificate French i.e., telling him I was 16 and that I enjoyed the music of Johnny Halliday. I also met Julia Roberts when she was filming Michael Collins in Dublin but the French Spiderman encounter has to win every time surely?