20 Minutes with Caoimhe Haughey, the Parchment Magazine, Spring Issue

Caoimhe Haughey is the principal of C. M. Haughey Solicitors and niece of former Taoiseach, Charles Haughey.  Caoimhe's practice concentrates on personal injury litigation with a focus on medical negligence.  She has been in the headlines recently due to her involvement as a solicitor for the Plaintiff in the Ms. Y case.

When did you qualify?

1994

If you hadn't become a solicitor what would you have done?

It's so long ago now! It's hard to imagine doing anything else.  I would loved to have qualified as a vet.  That would be my dream job.

Have you any funny anecdotes from your time as a trainee/apprentice?

Yes lots - including against myself.  One that comes to mind is the late Judge Ballagh of the District Court, repeatedly telling a young male apprentice who was applying for a hearing date "I can't hear you....".  The poor fella kept moving closer up the packed courtroom, raising his voice only to hear the same disdainful response from Judge Ballagh.  "I can't hear you....".  With a look of confusion and bewilderment on his face he opened his mouth for the last time when Judge Ballagh asked, "would somebody ever tell that young man to put on a jacket and tie?".  That was a lesson I never forgot about dressing appropriately for Court and remembering your place.

What type of practice do you have?

Plaintiff personal injury with a heavy focus now of medical negligence.  We also cover employment law.  I don't really say "no" to anything... except conveyancing.

How do you think the Legal Services Regulation Act will impact on the Solicitors' practice?

I really don't know.  I think there has been unfair scrutiny and criticism of solicitors' fees/costs in recent times.  The Bar has largely escaped this.  I welcome the principle of more transparent regulation but I am not convinced it is going to work efficiently in practice.  As for limited-liability, multi-disciplinary partnerships and considering whether they will work in practice; is like the question the media want to know right now - will Fianna Fail go into government with Fine Gael and will that work?  Change is necessary but tradition is also important.

What was your most memorable moment of practice?

When my sign went up on the wall outside my premises - C. M. Haughey is 6 years old this year.

Who has had the most influence on your career and why?

My mother Kitty - she is the wisest, most perceptive person I know.  She turned 82 recently.

Has your training and experience as a lawyer helped you to overcome issues in either your professional or personal life?

As a solicitor it's important to listen and not judge.  Being able to take advice is just as important as being able to give advice.  A number of years ago I was involved in a very acrimonious litigation with a former business partner that ended up in the High Court, resulting in two reserved judgements delivered by Ms. Justice Laffoy, both in my favour.  It was an extremely difficult time for me personally and professionally.  I had to dig deep to use all my skills as a solicitor to remain objective and listen to the advice of my legal team.  I have to say my legal team was outstanding and they know who they are!!

Describe an event in your personal life which has had the most important impact on your development as a Solicitor?

Being a Client myself.  I believe that has made me a better solicitor for my own Client's.

Do you have political ambitions?

Not in the real sense but it is in the blood I suppose.  I like to think that by successfully representing my Clients, I might be able to influence change in some small way.

If you had absolute power to implement one piece of legislation in the morning, what would that be and why?

I would introduce abortion as a choice for women in cases of fatal foetal abnormality, rape and incest.  In my practice I have dealt with women who have been in these tremendously difficult, traumatic situations.  It is heartbreaking and devastating.

What would be your dream holiday?

A five-star road trip around the best beaches in the South of Spain with me and my three dalmatians.  I am dog mad!

Describe a typical day in the life of Caoimhe Haughey?

I listen to RTE Radio 1 and read the newspaper apps.  Then I make my plan of things to do - notwithstanding my best intentions, the plan never gets fully done.  I have a long commute so to avoid the traffic, it's either 6.30am or wait til after 9am.  The day seems to fly by.  No time for lunch but the girls get me a sandwich for my desk.  I will try and get a walk with the dogs in the morning and the evening to clear my head.  I get home by 7pm or so.  I read something recently which resonated... life is like a toilet roll, the closer it gets to the end the faster it goes!

Any advice for those entering the profession this year?

Be proud of your qualifications and always respect your colleagues.  Clients come and go, colleagues don't.

Immediate Callback from a Solicitor or Freephone: 1800 93 88 93

C.M. Haughey Solicitors, Christchurch Hall, High Street, Dublin 8, Tel (01) 421 4220, Fax (01) 454 8338

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.

*This statement is made in compliance with Reg. 8 of the SI 518 or 2002.