Alumni Stories – Diane Sutton speaks to alumnus Brian Dalton BL
Welcome to the first in our series of Alumni Stories with Diane Sutton, our new Member Relations Officer.
In this series, Diane will chat to a variety of King’s Inns graduates focusing on the degree of Barrister–at–Law first before we delve into other course graduates. It will hopefully embrace the diversity of our alumni who are practising in the Courts in Ireland and internationally but also working in many other professions like communications, politics, the public sector, education, and policy.
As the new Member Relations Officer at King’s Inns, over the past few months Diane has been working on getting to know more about the Society, its long history and cultural heritage, our alumni and subscribing members, and of course, our wide range of law courses.
What has struck Diane the most is the interesting career paths King’s Inns students have had, and the range of opportunities for our graduates. Having been a mature student herself, Diane was delighted to start the series by chatting with Brian Dalton BL, about realising his long–held ambition to become a barrister.
If you are interested in being part of our Alumni Stories series, drop Diane Sutton an email at email@example.com
Diane Sutton in conversation with Brian Dalton BL
Before King’s Inns
Brian started working in Industrial Relations with an airline subsidiary after leaving college. At age 30 he was appointed HR Director with a medical device company. After 8 years he left to take up another senior HR role in banking, and after a number of years was appointed Group HR Director with a well–known insurance company. It was at this point he commenced studying at King’s Inns as well as running a management consultancy.
Q – Brian, as a mature student what made you finally decide to apply to King’s Inns?
I had progressed in my career, and in 2007 I decided to branch out and do something different; I didn’t know exactly what, but I did want to work in another business function after achieving my ambitions in Human Resources.
A friend recommended that I look at the BL programme at the Inns saying that the knowledge and skills that she acquired had proven to be invaluable in her career as senior manager in the Health Sector.
I applied to study for the Diploma in Legal Studies* and was delighted when I was offered a place. I had established my own consultancy business at the time so had flexibility to attend classes four nights a week. The programme would help me broaden my skills and help in my search for a new executive role.
After the Diploma
Brian successfully changed career completely when he was appointed Managing Director of Corporate Affairs at RTE in 2009.
Q – How do you think the Diploma helped you in your new position?
I believe that the Diploma prepared me well for the interview. The new role incorporated responsibility for corporate restructuring and change management (my main area of expertise) along with new areas such as corporate and regulatory affairs. The Broadcasting landscape was changing fundamentally, and a new regulatory framework came into being with the 2009 Broadcasting Act. The Diploma helped me very significantly to understand and shape the Corporate Strategy and new reporting requirements required by that Act.
Having completed his Diploma, Brian was bitten by the legal bug and applied for the Barrister–at–Law (BL) Degree programme later that year.
Q – So how was your time as a student. Did you encounter any obstacles, and how did you overcome them?
There is great camaraderie when studying at the Inns. The lecture notes are available online, there are great subject textbooks produced by the Inns. The course of study is demanding and challenging. We all have our favourite lecturers and because they are barristers, they are good at explaining and communicating the detail often in a very entertaining and memorable way. However, the competing demands of family, work and study does create pressure. Those pressures are best managed by being organised and by being in a good study group.
Q – Was there a reason you didn’t apply to King’s Inns earlier in your career?
Principally time and the flexibility to attend at weekends to study for the BL became available in 2009.
Q – How has it impacted your life, to achieve your goal?
After completing the BL degree, I became absorbed with my new career at RTE; however, I also had a strong desire to complete my training by devilling and to practise. That opportunity arose in 2018 after 30 years working as an executive. I could now devil and develop a legal practice that tapped into my business experience.
I devilled with Mr. Conor Kearney BL where I gained invaluable Court experience particularly in Personal Injuries litigation. I also applied to be a Workplace Relations Adjudicator and was appointed to that role in August 2019 which taps into my employment law business experience. I am completing my 2nd year of devilling with Ms Shelley Horan BL and again I am gaining invaluable Court experience in Corporate and Commercial Law.
A new career has opened up that is very interesting and stimulating and again that has been made possible by the BL.
Q – And finally – do you have any advice for other mature students that may be considering studying at Kings Inns?
The skills you develop are hugely valuable. The ability to communicate clearly, to write succinctly and to argue coherently and persuasively will advance your career.
Brian also holds master level qualifications in business and psychology. He is a Chartered Fellow of the Institute of Personnel and Development, and member of the Psychological Society of Ireland.
* The Diploma in Legal Studies leads to a qualification in law, and eligibility to sit the Entrance Examination for the Barrister–at–Law Degree. Diploma students come from a variety of educational background including non–law degrees, other third–level qualifications, or indeed no formal education. Many of the Diploma graduates do not take the barrister path and have progressed to further study of law by doing taught or research masters or PhDs. Others did the course just because they were interested in learning the law.