Why You Should Apply For The Semester-in-Practice in Dublin

I’m pleased to host a guest post by Ned Melanson ’19, who writes about one of BC Law’s several programs that place students in legal internships in other countries. 

Picture this: It’s Wednesday, 5:30pm, in late February in Boston. You, a 2L still coming down from the whirlwind of 1L (or a 3L starting to feel like a caged bird ready to spread your wings), are sitting on the yellow room couches with your law school chums, waiting for that night class to start. You are wondering why you were too lazy to sign up for a morning class and subjected yourself to a 6:00pm. The light fades from the Newton sky as you and your compatriots trade gossip from the last weekend or discuss plans for the upcoming, yet still distant one. Outside it’s cold and there’s snow in the parking lot.

Now picture this: It’s Wednesday, 5:30pm, in late February, in Dublin. You, adventurous and with great foresight, are sitting in O’Donoghue’s pub, just around the corner from the beautiful Georgian brick building that houses BC Ireland. Surrounding you are a group of equally adventurous BC Law 2L and 3L’s, most of whom you could not have named before this semester, but now you wouldn’t hesitate in calling them friends. You’re listening to the two chaps in the corner booth play a fully unplugged set of classic Irish folk songs; occasionally one will stand up and reprimand the crowd for not being quiet enough or to pass around the hat. You’ve spent most of the day working at your internship at a well-respected Irish law firm, dedicated non-profit, budding tech company, or maybe the world’s largest aircraft leasing company. The Guinness sitting in front of you is rumored to be the best in Dublin.

Current BC Law students, if you see yourself enjoying the latter scenario over the former, I implore you to apply for the Semester in Practice in Dublin, Ireland for Spring 2020. Rarely does an opportunity for international travel, unique work experience, and immersion in a foreign culture present itself to a law student in the middle of their academic career. But if you’re not convinced by the imagery above, here are just few reasons why you should venture to Dublin.

Dublin is one of the fastest growing cities in Europe and is home to some of the world’s leading tech and financial companies. It was the epicenter of the “Celtic Tiger” and “Celtic Phoenix” periods of robust economic growth which launched Ireland into the upper echelons of GDP per capita. Dublin is also home to the one of the youngest populations in the developed world, and you won’t find a better city in Europe to be an American expat. Besides the longstanding cultural connections stemming from waves of Irish emigration to the US (a cabbie recently told me that Barack Obama traces ancestors back to Moneygall, County Offlay), many US multinational companies have flocked to Dublin in the past few decades to take advantage of the Irish corporate tax structure. Walking through Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock, past Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn offices, will draw quick comparisons to Silicon Valley.

If you manage to tire yourself of Dublin’s cobblestone alleys and swan-filled canals, a myriad of travel opportunities awaits you. Since you’ll be working at an internship, you’ll have little outside work to bog down your weekends. One can hop on the DART train to Bray, a charming fishing village south of Dublin, drive to Galway on a Friday and find yourself at the Cliffs of Moher on a Saturday, or take a bus to the beautiful Wicklow Mountains for some mountain biking. Dublin’s proximity to the Continent and ample supply of cheap flights has allowed members of this year’s Semester-in-Practice cohort to travel to Spain, France, England, Norway (the fjords are something else), Belgium, Poland, the Netherlands, Slovakia, and more.

But of course, Semester-in-Practice is not all pubs and planes. You work a legal job 9-5, Monday through Friday, and attend a weekly seminar in which you discuss your placements, listen to lecturers, and visit Dublin’s historical landmarks. Internship placements range from tech companies to banks and finance firms, and to law firms. The work experience is both familiar yet foreign, allowing the intern to step out of their comfort zone while still being confident enough to become valued members of their respective teams. At my placement, AerCap, an aircraft leasing firm, I have worked on deals involving entire fleets of aircraft with airlines all over Europe, Asia, and Africa. And while I don’t see myself entering the aviation finance field any time soon, the Semester-in-Practice experience will be a line on my resume that is sure to spark more interest than “Negotiations Competition Participant.” As mentioned above, the Irish are a welcoming people, and I’ll come back to the US having made good friends and solid connections abroad.

A final thought: we get little time to reflect during our fast-paced years in law school. Oddly enough, I’ve found moving to a foreign city for three and half months is the best way to reflect on life in Boston. I’ll be sure to add an airplane and globe emoji to my Instagram bio to reflect my newfound perspective. You too can gain perspective. Apply for the Semester-in-Practice: Dublin.

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