A bit of legal history will be made this week when Derryman Rory Harrigan gets his Law degree from the University of Ulster.
Twenty-six years old Rory from the Steelstown area of the city is the first ever undergraduate Law student at Magee, and indeed in Northern Ireland, to complete the postgraduate New York Bar programme in conjunction with his final year of undergraduate study.
Rory will sit the Bar Exam in New York next month (July 2010) and, if successful, will be sworn in as an Attorney-at-Law making him eligible to practice in law in the US and in many other countries where major American law firms operate.
Rory admits that taking on the New York Bar programme as a final year Law student did put him under pressure and says he simply could not have done it without the full support of his wife, Aisling.
After doing his ‘A’ levels at St Columb’s College in 2002, Rory took the ‘scenic’ route to university. When his daughter Rebecca was born in 2003, he was already working full time and in 2007, in keeping a promise he made to himself that when she started primary school- he would apply for University, Rory began his studies on the LLB Law program at Magee.
The well-trodden path for law students has always been to complete their LLB before getting their professional qualification, but Rory felt that time was not on his side.
“Since I was already a few years older than most of the other students in my class, I didn’t have the luxury of taking my time to get qualified so decided to do the professional qualification during my final year.”
The New York Bar programme is offered in Belfast and runs from October to February each year. Combining it with his full time undergraduate studies made for a punishing schedule but Rory hopes it will pay dividends by opening up more career opportunities for him.
“I finished in Magee at 3pm on Friday afternoon, got the bus to Belfast for class from 6pm to 9.30pm and then got the last bus back to Derry. Next morning, I would catch the 6.30am bus to Belfast, had classes all day from 9am to 6pm and then got back on the bus to Derry again.”
Congratulating Rory on the successful completion of the New York Bar programme, LLB single honours course director at Magee, Alice Diver said it was a remarkable achievement.
“Rory was an exemplar student. He was totally committed and his dedication and determination to succeed were an inspiration to other students. During his time at Magee, Rory was always available for any event organised by the School of Law - open days, advice evenings and more recently the ISFL conference. He deserves great credit for his commitment and enthusiasm.”