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University College Cork: Where aspiring legal professionals become career-ready graduates

After spending much of his early 20s working in human resources in the US, Diarmuid Corcoran decided to become a lawyer.  He returned to Ireland and enrolled as a mature student in the Evening BCL Degree programme at the School of Law at University College Cork.  After graduating with an honours BCL degree, Diarmuid began to investigate UCC’s postgraduate law programmes and selected the LAW LLM.

“‘I selected the general LLM because I could tailor the programme to suit my own interests and goals,” he says. “You get to choose between a variety of five to 10 credit modules so you can customise the programme to suit your postgraduate experience.”

The flexibility Corcoran speaks of was crucial to build his career to date.  At the School of Law, he explored the law governing the funeral industry and the status of human remains – and it paid off.

One of his theses, “An Examination of the Law and Death in Ireland – The Status and Focus of Human Remains,” became the first comprehensive overview of the law in that arena. Both of his written theses were published in academic journals.

Hannah Janknecht, a Law LLM (Environmental & Natural Resources Law) student, concurs. She was drawn toward the programme at UCC because she could study a wide range of specialist modules, thanks to research at the Centre for Law and the Environment. Here, professors lead research in Environmental, Marine, Climate, Energy and Natural Resources Law.

She could join classes outside of environmental law, too. “I took classes in negotiation and mediation,” Janknecht says.

Such specialisations provide a strong start to the careers of UCC law graduates. Experiential learning opportunities boost their employability further.

Its various law clinics prepare aspiring legal professionals to tackle the challenges in the different areas of law. Take the Family Law or Child Law Clinic, for example. The Family Law Clinic’s website – an initiative developed by Professor Louise Crowley, lecturer in family law, with the support of students from the Law LLM (Children’s Rights and Family Law) programme – is a comprehensive online source of all aspects of Irish family law.

Those pursuing the Law LLM (Marine and Maritime) can opt for a clinical module on the Law of the Sea, where students provide legal advice to the Irish Naval Service regarding fisheries protection, narcotics enforcement, or maritime security. Where possible, students can visit on board a naval ship at Cork.


University College Cork

Here, students can customise their postgraduate experience to specialise in various areas of law. Source: University College Cork

Diverse career opportunities

UCC is ranked third in Ireland for Graduate Employability (Sunday Times League Table 2021).

Industry connections make this possible. Through close collaboration with industry partners, students benefit from these partnerships that provide real-world experience.

A prime example is the IT Law Clinic, made possible by UCC’s membership in the iLINC, also known as the European Network of Law Incubators. They aim to facilitate the provision of free legal support to start-ups.

LLM courses such as the Law LLM (Intellectual Property and E-Law) allow mature students like Nura Hunt to enhance their knowledge in this area of law and help them balance work with studies.

“I chose Intellectual Property and E-Law to challenge myself, gain more knowledge, and utilise my skills,” she says. “I came from an IT background and help protect intellectual creation and innovation.”

It’s little wonder why the School of Law can produce a string of successful graduates. Niamh Collins and Camryn Jung, Law LLM (International Human Rights Law and Public Policy) graduates, wrote two Working Papers covering popular human rights issues: refugee deterrence policies and climate change and human trafficking, for the UCC’s Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights.

Following their graduation, they are eager to bring their experience forward into their careers. “Researching during the LLM gave me an opportunity to delve more deeply into issues that I had been encountering in my work. I hope to return to advocacy work in either a direct information-giving role or in a research and policy-shaping capacity,” Collins shares.

As for Jung, she went on to take her New York Bar Exam and was admitted to the country’s State Bar in 2022.

Click here to discover how you can be a part of the globally-recognised law school that produces graduates in the judiciary, the civil service, non-governmental organisations, industry and international institutions, including the European Union and United Nations.

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