King’s Inns Alumni on the Hustings – John Paul Phelan TD
MY FOUR years at King’s Inns have served me and the constituents and public I represent very well across my time in the Seanad and now in Dáil Éireann. Never more so than in the past months when, as a member of the Banking Inquiry team, I have been tasked, with others, with finding the most salient points in some 500,000 documents.
My primary Degree is in Economics & Finance at Waterford Institute of Technology but during my time in the Seanad, I undertook to study the part–time Diploma in Legal Studies over two years. Many politicians rattle on about the merits of life–long learning. I chose action rather than words, studied and attended the King’s Inns at night and sometimes at weekends. I took things a step further shortlythereafter and used the Diploma as a stepping–stone to the part–time Barrister–at–Law programme which also saw me study part–time over 2 years.
The demands on a politician’s time sees us work late into the night, particularly during the Dáil term, juggling this with clinics, public meetings and other constituency work across the week and into weekends. Also over my time at King’s Inns, I stood in a general election and a European Parliament election. As I look back now, I sometimes wonder where I found the time. But I did and it has benefitted me no end! Being a TD is a rewarding, challenging, demanding role which I revel in but it is also one which affords us little leisure time.
Studying part–time, often at weekends, was a challenge. It was the very same for my classmates, many of whom were running their own businesses, raising families and juggling as I was. But my time there, the skills and qualifications I’ve gained and the close friendships I’ve made will stay with me for all my years.
Studying at King’s Inns has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and the skills gleaned and honed have made me a better, a more competent, confident, capable and efficient public representative.
As well as equipping me with a much better understanding of our legal system, my time at King’s Inns has given me the skills and the confidence to present my argument in a more structured, understandable manner. Much of our work at King’s Inns has to be presented and the skills honed have helped me to better argue my position in the Dáil, better understand both sides of argument, better address meetings and better communicate with the public I’m privileged to represent.
I deal with volumes of critical legislation as part of my daily work. I can now better understand this proposed legislation and I am now better positioned to suggest amendments. I often reach out to the pool of classmates and friends I met while at King’s Inns to get their opinions, ask for their counsel. Some are now practicing barristers. Others, like me, are not practicing the law for now but are using what we have learnt in our daily work to great effect. It has been an incredibly rewarding journey – one I definitely do not regret.
John Paul Phelan TD
Note: King’s Inns invited all our alumni we knew to be standing in #GE16 to contribute and confirmed that we will put up articles from all those who respond.