One of the things I love about my role is having the privilege to speak with some of Ireland’s top legal talent and find out about their journey to their current role.
Whether law was something they dreamed about since Ally McBeal first started dancing in bathrooms ( showing my age!) or an area they found themselves in, everyone has their own, unique career story to tell.
So I thought why not call on some of these legal eagles to share their stories with Phoenix followers and inspire those currently in the legal profession and maybe considering a move, or indeed, perhaps a whole new generation!.
The first of our “This Is Your Legal Life” blog series, features the talented and fabulous Margaret Kearney,General Counsel at Wayflyer.
Wayflyer are an Irish-owned e-commerce funding company taking the world by storm with hugely ambitious growth plans - which to date, they are smashing! As documented in the media, they recently raised $76 million in Series A funding and are on a phenomenal journey with Margaret playing a key role as General Counsel. https://www.wayflyer.com
Managing Partner | Phoenix| Qualified Solicitor
What is your Current Role?
General Counsel at Wayflyer
What’s your Education background?
BA in Law, Sociology and Politics from NUIG and an LLB from NUIG. I have also completed diplomas with the Law Society in In-House Practice and Intellectual Property Law and Information Technology Law.
What’s Your Professional experience
I trained in Byrne Wallace with seats in commercial and residential property, health services litigation and corporate. I was very lucky with the partners and associates I worked with who allowed me to do more than photocopying and actually draft full agreements and deal with clients.
I qualified in 2008 and due to the 2008 recession there were no newly qualified solicitor roles available to our intake. I went to Bank of Ireland for a year post qualification and moved to CarTrawler the following year.
After a very exciting 10 years with CarTrawler where I established and grew the legal function, I have moved to Wayflyer to develop the Legal and Compliance function- a FinTech start-up in a high growth stage.
I simply enjoyed it in college. I found it really interesting and so I kept learning and progressing. It’s in the family also so it is a world that I understood to some degree.
Why In-House Legal?
I love to be close to the business and learning about how business works. Being in-house is a whole new world both in terms of the legal work streams but also with regards to the exposure you get to the core business issues. It’s also extremely varied which keeps me on my toes and keeps me engaged.
I am also very people oriented and so I love being able to work with a variety of people in the different roles around the business.
Tell Me About Your Typical working day
I generally start work between 7:30 and 8 and finish at 5pm. I often have to log on again at night for an hour or two but try to limit that to a couple of days a week.
What Is The Life of a Lawyer Really Like? (one pro, one challenge)
Certainly in-house, the pro is that as the general legal advisor you get exposure to all areas of the business. In one day, I could be dealing with employment laws in the US as we set up a US office, a new debt agreement and sales contract or office lease!
A challenge is definitely the length of time it takes to complete tasks - the work can pile up and the business can become frustrated easily with the time it can take to do each task such as a contract review.
What Are Your top tips for switching off?
A walk without music or a podcast which I try to go on at the end of each day - even if it’s just for twenty minutes! It gives me space to process the day’s events without any noise so that I can truly switch off for the evening.
Your Perfect Weekend?
A fun activity with the kids (a trip to the farm or the zoo) and a nice meal out with the kids, friends or family. Sunshine always helps!
What’s the Best Piece of Advice you’ve been given?
To do what works for you and have boundaries.
Being conscious of what your priorities are in life and having clear boundaries in place to support those priorities means that I maintain a balance in life…or I certainly try to! Of course there are times when one part of your life needs more attention and focus but generally having boundaries in place helps a lot.
Some Advice you would give your younger self?
To stop and think when it comes to my career.
I wasn’t one for stopping to consider options outside of law and I had quite a narrow view on my options. I now realise I could have done a lot of different things and I think that’s why I love being in-house as it exposes me to so many different areas of business.