Trainee Development

A Balanced Approach

There is a popular perception that the beginning of your working life spells the end of your social and sporting life. There is a notion that it is an impossible marriage. If that is the case then plenty of people in the firm make the impossible possible.tagrugby

Fitness and Sport

The culture promoted within the firm is one of a healthy body is a healthy mind. This is evidenced by the many activities in which the firm engages and organises. Gym bags, yoga mats, tennis and badminton rackets, and cricket bags are regularly spotted every day of the week squeezing through the revolving doors.

The firm takes part in the Spring and Summer Irish Rugby Tag Association Leagues and has enjoyed many successes over the years. Debutant(e)s are always welcome but participation always comes with a health warning – once you start be prepared to get hooked! Every week the post match analysis gets underway in the corner of one of the warm environs in close proximity to the pitches with everyone toasting that evening’s performance.

Soccer is another favourite and the team regularly competes in the final stages of the Solicitors’ League. The pitch in Blackhall Place turns into Dublin 7’s very own Field of Dreams where people from firms all over Dublin put on a performance for bragging rights. Five-a-side soccer is weekly instalment for those who have the skills to operate in confined spaces or for those who prefer the smaller soccer field!

Trainees (and future trainees!) form an integral part of both teams and there is always competition for places. The ‘next-day’ tag rugby and soccer match reports are highly anticipated with many in the firm postponing the trip to the canteen for a coffee and a biscuit until it hits their inbox. The reports provide a platform for some of the firm’s talented writers to come to the fore and practise a different form of drafting. No-one escapes a mention from the tag rugby and soccer scribes!

Cycle-to-work competitions are also put in place for those with plenty of energy in the morning! The firm provides a regular free bike tune-up service on site as well as showers and lockers. Golfing and sailing lessons are frequently organised by the firm as post-work activities throughout the year.

Sport and CSR join forces in our annual relay triathlon to raise funds for charity.

Social Events

Several times throughout the year one of the boardrooms transforms into a hub for anyone in the firm with a penchant for poker and an appetite for pizza and beer. The inter-departmental Brain Box Quiz is another successful project run by the entertainment committee. Lunchtime events across the road at the National Concert Hall and comedy nights at one of the venues in town also feature in the social calendar.

One of the biggest events in the trainee calendar is the ‘weekend away’ where all the trainees from the Dublin and Belfast offices get the opportunity to socialise together. The location is top secret right up to the point where you arrive at the gates of the venue which adds much suspense to the trip. Last year saw the bus negotiate winding roads that dipped and peaked before it came to a halt in the car park of the Kippure Estate in Wicklow! It was a brilliant weekend with super food, great music provided by a DJ, singsongs of the customary off-key variety supplemented with guitars and piano playing, team building activities (which get quite competitive!) and casino games. Not to be missed!

Trainees never miss the chance to congregate en masse in one of the neighbouring bars on Friday nights for drinks and laughs and to plot their weekends. It is not unusual either on Fridays for a convey of cars to hit the road immediately after work following signposts for the West of Ireland, dropping in to visit the families of some trainees along the way!

The key to putting yourself in a position to get involved and integrated in the firm is to be organised and efficient in what you do. Adopt a healthy and sustainable routine and commit to it. Be prepared to provide a good defence at your end of rotation evaluation if you haven’t!  A perfect career-life balance is probably not achievable but there is huge scope to find a level of comfort between the two that works for you. Meeting friends, having lunch, making it to training and keeping up hobbies should not be a bonus but the norm. Don’t settle for less. It is worth the effort.

Trainee Social Corporate Responsibility

The firm supports our trainees in their successful charitable initiatives.

Arthur Cox Mwandi Project

In early 2008, a group of trainees had a desire to do voluntary work overseas. They were conscious of the history and legacy of the firm’s founder, Arthur Cox, who in his later years joined the priesthood and became a missionary in Zambia. With this in mind, they approached Magis Ireland, an Irish charitable organisation, to explore the possibility of volunteering in Zambia. These discussions resulted in the creation of the Arthur Cox Zambia Project (the “Project”) and in July 2008 a group of Arthur Cox trainees ventured to Mwandi, a rural village in south western Zambia, with the ultimate goal of lifting standards of living and improving health facilities for the community in that area.

Since 2008, the Project has gone from strength to strength with Arthur Cox trainees travelling to the region annually to continue to develop this work. The Project is trainee led, with the support of the firm and in partnership with the local community and charitable organisations in Zambia. The trainees engage in the Project at their own expense so as to ensure that all funds raised go directly towards the charitable objectives. It is a unique project, in that it is driven by the needs of the local people and local leaders, governmental and tribal, who are integral in the planning of the Project and who work alongside the trainees on the ground in Zambia. As a result of this community cooperation, the local tribal Chief in the Mwandi region decreed a tribal law protecting all works made by the Arthur Cox trainees in the area with a view to preserving the relationship between Arthur Cox and the local communities.

Over the past six years, over 100 trainees have travelled to Zambia and have raised approximately €250,000 to benefit the regions. The following is a synopsis of the work carried out by the Arthur Cox trainees to date:

2008 – 2013 the Mwandi Region

  • Having been made aware of the high infant mortality rates and appalling medical facilities in a remote cluster of villages on the outskirts of the Mwandi region, the Project renovated a rural medical clinic, which provides medical services to a population of 5,700 people. When the trainees first arrived, the clinic was in a decrepit state, but is now recognised by Zambian medical administrators as the most developed rural clinic in the district.
  • Between 2008 and 2013, a specialised maternity ward, together with separate sanitation facilities were built by the trainees in conjunction with the local community in the Mwandi region. The Project has also brought a consistent supply of running water and solar electricity to the clinic and maternity ward.
  • From 2010, the Project began to focus on addressing food instability and the lack of nutritional variety in Zambia by developing the Lutaba Agricultural and Rural Development Centre (“LARDEC”) in conjunction with local Zambian partners. From humble beginnings LARDEC now provides training in farming practices and crop diversification to over 380 families over six outpost villages; this number continues to grow on an annual basis. A training centre, agricultural training plot, bore hole water supply, sanitation facility and a maize milling machine have been provided through the Project.
  • In 2010, the Project began an initiative through LARDEC to empower farmers reliant on maize to grow rice for the first time. Rice can be produced in the fertile floodplains of the Zambezi River and provides greater economic benefit to the farmers of the region than maize, which would typically be farmed in the area.  As a result of the Project’s efforts a new rice industry has been created in the area. Over 150 farmers are now involved in the rice project and this number continues to increase with each passing season. Due to the strength and success of rice farming in the area, the Project provided a mechanical rice polisher to increase the quality of rice produced. A maize dehuler was also provided to assist maize farming activities.
  • Annual funding has also been given to local institutions in the Mwandi region such as the local schools, an infant-feeding programme, a biogas initiative, and an orphanage. The Project has also assisted with the purchase of new beds for the regional hospital.
  • In accordance with the Project’s focus on sustainability, the exit and handover to the local communities took place in 2013. As hoped, the initiatives supported by the Project are growing organically with the communities at the helm.

2014 – 2017 – the Chikuni Region

  • In 2014, the Zambia Project moved to a new phase in a different part of rural Zambia, called Chikuni. The Project’s focus is now to build radio schools in conjunction with the Canisius Secondary School (one of the earliest and most respected centres of learning in Zambia) and Chikuni local radio.
  • The Radio Schools provide a government-approved curriculum to children who cannot attend formal schools due to geographic and financial barriers, tackling poor access to education which is one of the most recognised impediments to development.
  • Lessons are broadcast over wind up radio and facilitated by locally trained mentors The first school in Hakalinda village was completed in 2014, , and will provide primary education to children from surrounding 13 villages. It will also operate an adult education and agricultural training programme. Ablution blocks and agricultural plots are built alongside the schools to improve sanitary conditions and provide agricultural training. Solar panels have been supplied and provide electric light to support evening adult training programmes, as well as homework clubs for the school children.
  • It currently is planned to build up to five schools by 2017.

By taking part in the project, the trainees learn about everyday life in Zambia. When sharing their experiences to date, many trainees have described how taken aback they were by the fact that what we deem to be simple tasks in the western world, are extremely difficult tasks in rural Zambia. Some examples they have offered include the fact that water needs to be pumped and carried incredibly long distances on a daily basis, and disease, injury and hunger are too often a part of everyday life in rural Zambia.

More striking than this hardship was the dignity and beauty of the local people that the trainees have met over the years. From the songs and music around the fire at night to the smiles and laughter of the children playing football, these incredible people have left an impression on each trainee that will last a lifetime.