Students' Experience of the Superior Courts Internship Programme 2017

Gemma Hayes and Muiread Murphy
Monday, July 31, 2017 - 14:00

Over the past summer, two of our recent graduates, Gemma Hayes and Muiread Murphy, participated in the Superior Courts Internship Programme for Law Students, a project initiated by the Hon. Mrs. Justice Susan Denham, Chief Justice of Ireland.

Here Gemma and Muiread speak about their experiences.

Gemma Haynes LL.B. Class of 2017

'I was nominated by the Department of Law, as one of two students, to represent Maynooth University on the Superior Courts Internship Programme for Law Students. Maynooth was one of seven Irish universities, along with Fordham University (New York) and Bangor University (Wales), to nominate students to take part in the program. The interning students were appointed to a judge (either in the Supreme Court or the High Court) who they would shadow for the four week duration of the internship. I was appointed to the Honourable Mr Justice John MacMenamin.

Prior to the commencement of the internship, the interns were invited by Fordham University to dine at Kings Inns as an introduction to the program, the fellow interns, and some members of the judiciary. The first week of the internship began with an introduction to the work of the Court Service and a tour of The Four Courts complex. The interns had the opportunity to meet with Chief Justice Susan Denham when she hosted afternoon tea on the first day. The tea also gave the interns the chance to meet with the judicial assistants, researchers and ushers who we would be working alongside for the duration of the program.

On the second morning I met with Judge MacMenamin, and as an adjunct professor in Maynooth, we spoke for some time about the university and the law department. Judge MacMenamin also gave me a research project to work on during the internship in an area of law that I want to pursue in the future. I don’t think I had really expected that the Judges would take such an interest in the lives and aspirations of the interns, and be so supportive and encouraging. A good deal of time was spent in Court watching proceedings; indeed some of the interns visited the Drug Court which was a really amazing opportunity to see restorative justice in practice. The lecture series which accompanied the internship program, in memory of Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, began on Thursday, while on Friday the interns where present in Court to watch the final judgment and retirement of Ms Justice Mary Laffoy. 

The internship continued into the second and third weeks with the mornings spent in Court or with the judge, while the afternoons were spent either working on my project in the judge’s library, or attending the lecture series or other organised activities – such as a tour of the historic Green Street Court House where Robert Emmet was tried. It was also a really exciting time to be around the Four Courts as there were a number of historic (legal) moments, including the appointment of the new Attorney General Seamus Wolfe, former Attorney General Márie Whelan’s nomination to the Court of Appeal and the government’s approach to the new Judicial Appointments Commission Bill. 

The final week of the internship involved, the handing up of my project to Judge MacMenamin, a tour of the CCJ (the view of Dublin from the 9th floor is superb), a dinner with the other interns and (very flattering) photos with the Chief Justice. The program was an absolutely phenomenal opportunity to spend four weeks in the Superior Courts and I highly recommend it to any law student. Given that Judge Denham has now retired there is a question as to whether the program will continue into the future, although under the guidance of new Chief Justice Frank Clarke, we can only hope!' 

Muiread Murphy LL.B. Class of 2017

'This Summer I was afforded the opportunity to take part in Chief Justice Susan Denham's Superior Courts Internship Programme for Law Students. Over the four weeks I spent in the Superior Courts my understanding of the law and court system continued to develop. This programme enabled me to discuss legal issues with a Superior Court Judge on a one to one basis. My time spent in the Criminal Courts of Justice was challenging, thought provoking and incredibly motivational. I met students from all across Ireland and also from Fordham University in New York and Bangor University in Wales. The programme was very diverse, as not only were we able attend court sittings, we had lectures each week from Superior Court Judges and Academics. We also went on a Tour of the Drug Treatment Court and Green Street Court House. This experience has been very beneficial for my legal career, as I gained a unique insight to the workings of the Court system. It was a privilege to take part in this Internship Programme.'