Two women and a man standing side by side in front of a wall with a sign that reads Orbitus
Paula O’Halloran, Daniel Bowler, and Jennifer Downing
Tuesday, 18 June 2024

“I just loved the campus feel to UL. It was just such a community and for a first year coming in it was very comforting.” 

Jennifer Downing graduated from University of Limerick’s BA Law and European Studies (now offered as Bachelor of Laws (Law Plus) in 2002.  

“It was such a broad, round degree, and the majority of my class all went on to law. It was an excellent grounding, and a lot of the lecturers were leaders in their field.” 

Jennifer is now Managing Partner of Orbitus, a legal, tax, and finance firm with locations in Cork and Kerry, but never lost her connection to UL. 

Orbitus sponsored UL’s latest edition of the Plassey Law Review and provides work placement opportunities to students each year. 

“The consistency and the quality of UL students has just been excellent,” Jennifer said. 

“My problem with placements from other institutions is that they are not as consistent as UL,” she added.  

“In UL you get a student for nine months and there's so much that you can teach that person during that time and so much that they can give us as well. Other institutions’ placements seem to be much shorter. 

“It's great fun, but everyone works very, very hard and we have seen students really come out of themselves and thrive in the office and we're looking for that person whose personality is going to do something like that,” Jennifer explained. 

Third year Law and Accounting student Daniel Bowler is currently doing his placement in Orbitus: “I saw a tax placement as a middle ground between law and accounting, to give me a good grounding.   

“When I started I was a bit nervous, but they've been so helpful and friendly. A month into my placement I had the opportunity to do the tax trainee induction program with chartered tax advisor, and Orbitus were very supportive. Completing it was a massive help in the broader scheme of tax for when I go back to college in September, I’ll have an even better grounding for my tax modules,” Daniel said.  

“When applying to UL I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do after the Leaving Certificate, but I liked that Law and Accounting offered you two very different disciplines, so I took a chance and I’m happy I did,” Daniel added. 

Orbitus’s strong relationship with the university began when alumna Paula O’Halloran joined the team on a traineeship in 2017, and they have welcomed UL co-op students ever since.  

Paula is now a Senior Associate in Orbitus’s commercial property department, having studied Bachelor of Laws (Law Plus) in University of Limerick: “I loved my time in UL, I thoroughly enjoyed it.” 

She continued: “I’m from Cork but was drawn to Limerick because it is really that US-style campus, you're in this community in Castletroy, versus the other colleges around the country where you are scattered in the inner cities.” 

While the campus attracted Paula to UL, it was the variety of subjects that led her to choose her course: “It was the electives that were offered with the Law Plus program, the ability to be able to take electives in psychology or economics or a language, without having to declare straight away at 18.” 

Paula credits her co-op placement as a key factor in progressing her career after graduating.  

“At the time (2010), UL was really to the forefront of getting graduates practical hands-on work experience in long co-op placements and I think internships with other colleges were a much shorter period or you were doing it yourself during the summer months. 

“After graduating and knowing that I wanted to go down the solicitor route, being able to say that I had nine months of experience working in that environment, I think it got my foot in the door faster than other candidates,” Paula explained.   

Paula now mentors students who are following in her footsteps: “In a smaller firm like this, you're always looking to grow and so you always want people to succeed you, you want them to be able to step up, take over your role so that you can step into a wider ranging role as well.  

“So it's hugely important to us that co-op students especially, because they're here for such a long time, have a really positive experience. I actually learned a lot, empowering them so that they feel like they're learning and being helpful.   

“A lot of feedback from interns is their placements can be very ancillary, very administrative and they didn't get a sense of what the day to day job was going to be like, so it's really important for us that whatever department an intern is put in, that they're doing that nature of work, even on the introductory level, that they're starting to understand the concepts and what they would be doing if they go into this role.  

“I believe firms like Orbitus stand out as opposed to larger firms because it's still hands-on enough that you have direct contact with a partner,” she explained. 

Even though Paula did pursue a career in law following her degree, she believes a law course is beneficial whatever your aspirations: “The beauty of a law course, especially the courses on offer in UL, is the versatility of those courses. 

“They are so adaptable to other professions, even if you don't want to go down the traditional legal routes of qualifying as a solicitor or barrister, the skills that you learn are so transferable to other jobs that you may not even realise at the time. 

“So my advice to anybody who is currently studying for their Leaving Cert would be go and do law if it is something that you think that you might be interested in, as you will gauge fairly fast if it's something that you like or not, and if it is something you like there is a huge scope of roles that you can go into with a law degree, it doesn't just have to be the solicitor or barrister route, but ideally the solicitor route, I would highly recommend!” she concluded.