Legal eagle Sarah enters profession with flying colours

Sarah Mulholland on her graduation day at Queen's
Sarah Mulholland on her graduation day at Queen's

The dedication of a legal graduate from Portadown has paid off with a flurry of awards to go alongside her new position with a top UK law firm.

Sarah Mulholland picked up four awards in the course of her studies on top of her distinction from the Institute of Professional Legal Studies (IPLS). She has accepted a job as a fully qualified solicitor with UK law firm TLT, independently ranked as one of the top 50 UK law firms.

Sarah with TLT's Andrew Ryan

Sarah with TLT's Andrew Ryan

The official start date for the 23-year-old is September, and as a celebratory treat before then she will be exploring Canada with her boyfriend of five years – Darragh Grimley.

Sarah said she had her family to thank for her success: “I love my family to bits. My mum and dad (Nigel and Denise Mulholland) did everything to get me here. They’ve worked extremely hard and done everything they can to support my sister (Ruth) and me.

“They’re over the moon with how I’m getting on. So are my grandparents.”

Sarah’s awards include the Belfast Solicitors Association prize for the highest average mark in this year’s exams; the Thomasena McKinney Prize, awarded by the Law Society of Northern Ireland to the top trainee solicitor in the year; the Tughans Prize, awarded to the trainee who attains the highest standard in the Property Law and Practice: Part 2 examination; and the HarteCoyleCollins Prize for attaining the highest standard in the Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) course.

Sarah, a former pupil at Portadown College, graduated from Queen’s University Belfast with a first class honours in Law with Politics and undertook her training contract with TLT NI in Belfast.

She said: “Like my parents, I’ve just worked really hard. TLT had given me a trainee contract and I didn’t want to let them down so I just worked really hard for them and for myself. My poor boyfriend was neglected for a while.”

Of her inspiration to pursue a legal career she said: “I was at Portadown College during the Save The Dickson Plan campaign. That sort of psyched me up to take up law. I wanted to have skills that could be put to use in campaigns like that.

“Nobody wants to have to go and see a solicitor. They go to a solicitor when they’re in need and I feel privileged to be able to help and advise.”

Sarah will serve TLT in the planning and environment section come September: “With Belfast booming at the minute I might be able to help shape the planning landscape. It’s an exciting time. I’m a bit of a ‘save the planet’ person as well so I’m interested in the environment side too.”