King’s Inns Reunion Dinner — an Exclusive Interview with Chris Chan

King’s Inns’ Reunion Dinner welcomes Graduates of a year ending in ‘0’ – Chris Chan BL exclusive interview with The Liberty.

Chirs Chan BL

King’s Inns, Ireland’s oldest school of law ‘raised the bar’ on events on Friday 28 October. As part of Michaelmas Dining 2022, a reunion dinner welcomed all barrister graduates of a year ending in ‘0’ from 1970 to 2020.

Mr Chris Chan BL is amongst the members attending the graduation anniversary. Chan graduated in 2020 during a Covid-19-induced online set of examinations. He tells The Liberty of his journey to becoming a barrister and his time at King’s Inns. 

Chan moved from Hong Kong to Ireland in 2009 to be with his family and proceed with his education in Letterkenny, Donegal at Atlantic Technological University.

After graduating with an undergrad law degree, Chan began working as a data analyst at Dublin’s Facebook office. He worked here for four years. During this time, he enrolled at King’s Inns and completed an advanced diploma in immigration and asylum law.

Chan’s interest in law was sparked at a very young age. His father and Grandfather were police officers. “I’ve always wanted to work with the law. At the time I enrolled at King’s Inns I chose my specialisation to help people,” said Chan.

This was around the time of the global migrant crisis and Ireland was facing extensive refugee applications from Syria, which Chan explains opened up his interest in human rights and advocacy.

“I certainly have the desire to represent and help people that generally wouldn’t be able to advocate for themselves.”

King’s Inns © King’s Inns

Chan’s interest in helping people continued after he received his advanced diploma in immigration and asylum law. Chan considered a career working as a barrister. This had always been an area of intrigue to Chan after he completed a work placement with the state solicitor and Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in Donegal in 2014.

“I was fascinated by how barristers were representing cases and could put forward advocacy for cases at jury trials,” said Chan. “That’s when I decided to study at Kings Inns and train to be a barrister,” he added.

In 2018, Chan passed the King’s Inns entrance exam and began a two-year part-time ‘Barrister-at-law degree. These two years would not be easy for Chan – he worked a full-time job at Facebook on weekdays from 6 pm to 2 am, and his weekends would be spent at King’s Inns classes where he specialised in employment law.

With his knowledge of immigration and asylum law, Chan’s decision to specialise in employment law during his barrister training was no mistake. He wanted to “give back to the community,” a recurring theme in the interests of students, members and alumni at King’s Inns.

At the end of the day, you want the person representing you to know their stuff.”

– Mr Chris Chan BL

“I’m aware that King’s Inns is a very active college and was involved in helping out around the local community. The full-time students had more accessibility to the local community than we would have. They often organised fundraising and planned events around the area engaging with the local people.”

Community involvement didn’t end there for Mr Chan. He has recently signed up to work with FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres). Here, along with a number of solicitors, barristers and lawyers Chan works with people and families who are unable to afford legal services.

He will continue to work with FLAC throughout his career as a commercial lawyer and believes that his training at King’s Inns has provided him and his classmates with the ability to work in any environment.

“King’s Inns provides very good training, covering all grounds that a layer would need – working in court and in the private domain. It is a well-recognised qualification and has a positive affiliation with previous Presidents and policymakers in Ireland.”

Along with training, Chan explains the efforts made by King’s Inns to provide a good fun atmosphere for students.

“The vibe around King’s Inns was very good. My class was very diverse and there were people from really interesting backgrounds, and we were always encouraged to get to know each other and get involved,” he said.

King’s Inn’s Library © King’s Inns

“In my class, we had members of the guards, members of the armed forces, teachers, lecturers from Trinity College and even a surgeon. We were all at the very final stage of our legal education leaning toward the same direction – to become a barrister and represent.”

Chan describes his years at King’s Inns as “hands-on,” telling The Liberty that members, students and alumni regularly keep in touch with each other through Instagram and LinkedIn. He regularly attends dining events with his colleagues, friends and family.

Chris attended the dining reunion last week with former graduate members and is “delighted” to keep in touch with the institution that “has a realistic approach and always has the students’ interests at heart, even after we have graduated from the college.”

King’s Inns Dining hall © King’s Inns

Chris says that King’s Inns is constantly innovating to provide the best experience to assist students to obtain the best outcome after getting their degree, and there after that.

Now, after almost seven years of studying, working in various multinational companies and completing a number of online exams Chan says it has all been worth it. “At the end of the day, you want the person representing you to know their stuff,” he said.

“If I could give any advice I would say I know there’s a lot of misconception around the reality of becoming a lawyer but don’t be discouraged. If you have a desire and need to help and advocate, It will work out in the end.”

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