Our club has no jurisdictional boundaries*. So it was a pleasure to ask Tim O’Connor a barrister at the Bar of Ireland,on the Cork Circuit,  to become our latest member.  Tim specialises in judicial review and sports law.  He has used lockdown as an opportunity to grow a beard…

  1. Where are you working from now?

I’m working from home. We’ve all been doing it since even before the full lock-down started. I would go into my office maybe once a week checking post while doing a food shop.

  1. What has been most difficult about working remotely.

Pretty much all hearings in my area of judicial review have been parked, so it’s not so much remotely per se – I’m a circuiteer who spends a lot of time in Dublin, so I’m well used to working outside the office – as working at home. The demarcations blur, especially with small children. The Cork Circuit has been running all sorts of virtual activities from the start so, while it’s not the same as actually meeting colleagues, the social contact of the Bar is being maintained. The collegiality helps.

  1. What has been your biggest technical challenge?

Getting quiet spaces in which to think and make calls. It sounds trivial, but you do realise your office gives you that.

  1. Is there anything (work wise) that you wish you had with you?

My bookshelves. We have excellent online resources, but it would be helpful having my full library with me.

  1. What has been the most helpful thing you’ve learned.

Time-rationing is important to keep going when working at home. The uncertainty means that there aren’t deadlines in the same way, so you’re motivating yourself not against the clock but just to do the tasks in hand. That means breaking things into smaller chunks where you can tick it off as a time period done, and then go for a walk, do something else that needs doing, come back refreshed, start back again. Eat the elephant one bite at a time, with pauses between courses.

  1. Do you think this is going to change the way you work in the future?

I hope so. One thing that has really become clear is just how much we carry in terms of costs of travel for case management stuff. It’s not productive or sensible use of anyone’s time. That can be cut right back and done remotely. Everyone will gain if we use this to work out what’s essential and what we can do without.

  1. What is the first thing you are going to do when you are out of lockdown?

See my wider family – my uncle, my brothers who are in medicine. Have a professional double espresso or three, and proper pub pint of Beamish.

And then I’m going to have to do something about the foxy beard and windswept hair that have crept up during the lockdown…

*I have checked the rules carefully.