This article is the the second in our new series which showcases one of our consultants, and walk through what they do for clients with Johnson Hana.
Each features a brief biography of the consultant and a Q&A, where we discuss what they’re working on at the moment.
This time the spotlight is on Jamie O’Gorman, who is currently a Consultant with Johnson Hana on project with Irish Water.
About Jamie O’Gorman
Jamie O’Gorman is a qualified barrister who has worked as a consultant with Johnson Hana across a range of projects including Irish Water (across two separate projects), a leading global social media company, and Frontline Ventures.
Jamie was awarded his Bachelor of Civil Law from University College Dublin in 2017, before completing his Barrister-at-law degree at the Honorable Society of King’s Inns, where he was one of two inaugural recipients of the Denham Fellowship. He commenced practice at the Bar in 2019.
In between finishing up in UCD and beginning practice at the Bar, Jamie worked in a solicitor’s firm which practiced mainly in the defence of Medical Negligence and Personal Injury actions which provided him insight into the day to day running of legal cases, which he states was of great benefit prior to commencing practice.
What drew you to working with Johnson Hana?
Well, it was the June Bank Holiday in 2021, and I was at a family barbeque when I got a phone call from a colleague at the bar, who had been working for Johnson Hana for the previous six months, and who had spoken extremely highly of you!
And he said he was wondering if I would be interested in an opportunity that was about to become available with Johnson Hana working with Irish Water (where he was already, but in a different department).
As he had spoken so highly of his experience working with Johnson Hana, I jumped at the opportunity!
It is difficult as a barrister to find the type of work that can fit around the devilling that we do. Whereas, as my friend and colleague had said to me, this work with Johnson Hana would allow me to do just that as there was great flexibility.
The other point he made which helped convince me to join was the around the type of work and exposure to Johnson Hana’s clients. For me, I’ve very much seen that to be true, and it’s helped me develop my knowledge in a range of areas.
For example, in my first project with Irish Water, it gave me a great understanding of the law relating to procurement, which was not something I’d had much exposure to previously.
I understand you’ve worked across a few different projects with a range of Johnson Hana clients at this point, how have you found that? Are there similarities in the approach or does it vary more widely?
Oh yes, the variation in the types of work can be vast. Although the support from the Johnson Hana team is a consistent, the type of work and type of clients mean that there is a wide variety across the different projects.
For example, my second project with Johnson Hana was in completely different area of law, and a completely different type of client. This time it was with Frontline Ventures (a Venture Capital firm) and this meant a complete change for me. But, again, it was great. A completely different way of working, but the client were great and the support of Johnson Hana was, once-again, fantastic.
On this project, I was getting right down into the nitty-gritty of investment, of share-allocations, of transfer investments, of seed capital, and so on.
As a barrister, I’d had a bit of experience working with commercial law and shareholder disputes, but that was only after a dispute had arisen, this was an interesting look at the day-to-day practicalities of how these agreements work outside of that.
At the same time as that, I was actually brought in on another project, this time to work with [a leading global social media company].
That was an interesting one, I’d done some data protection work before in my own practice, and this was around the New SCCs [as required due to the Schrems ii decision]. The project itself was a repapering exercise.
There was a small team of us [Johnson Hana consultants] on the project. We were passed contracts and asked to comb through them and cross the ts and dot the is, making sure the new standard contractual clauses were in there, and that everything was up-to-date and in compliance.
So the review itself was quite meticulous, but very interesting because of the breadth and wide-range of the contracts we were working through.
The project structure was also well organized by Michael [Doran, Director of Managed Legal Services at Johnson Hana]. The system was that Michael would retrieve the contracts from [the social media company], and then divide and delegate them to the consultants to work through. But as an added layer of security, he would have us each do a range of first, second and third passes through each other’s work. So the process had a few inbuilt fail-safes to help ensure that the completed versions sent to the client were water-tight.
When working on these projects, how was the team dynamic? In other words, did you feel more like you were working for the client, for Johnson Hana, or independently as a contractor?
I suppose I’ve been very lucky. Firstly, the support from the Johnson Hana team was fantastic, and can’t be overstated. But the clients have all been very welcoming too. It’s always been made clear exactly why I was doing the work, and what bigger picture my work was contributing to.
It was quite a [pleasant] surprise when I was becoming a legal consultant with Johnson Hana, just how seamless it all was. As a barrister, I’m used to working largely independently, but both with the clients and the support of Johnson Hana, I felt part of the team.
And this was the case, right from the outset. From my initial conversations with Lisa [Head of Consultant Management at Johnson Hana] and now on various projects with Sean [O’Reilly, Consultant Manager at Johnson Hana] and Amy [O’Dowd, Consultant Manager at Johnson Hana] I’ve always been carefully guided through what will be expected of me in each project, and always been supported in anything I’ve ever needed such as leave requests or timetabling.
I also want to share how much I appreciate the flexibility I’ve had across the projects I’ve worked on. In most instances the work has been around 20 hours per week, that I can fit around my other commitments. There’s really no-one else offering that, so it does make me grateful for the opportunity with Johnson Hana.
In terms of working locations, have these projects been on-site, or working remotely?
Well the first project with Irish Water was done entirely remotely, purely because of the timing of the project [it was completed while the country was on lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic].
With Frontline Ventures, which was a little later, it was hybrid. Monday to Thursday the work was usually done remotely, but on Fridays we’d go into the office to meet and discuss updates.
With an upcoming project with Irish Water, it’s going to be hybrid. However, the plan for that is that I’ll be fully in the office for the start of the project, which will be beneficial due to the nature of the work, before moving in its latter stages to more remote work.
What impact did technology have on the work you were/are doing?
It has varied greatly across the different projects. On the repapering exercise [for the social media company], Michael was managing the project through Kira [an AI tool that helps to extract and analyse contracts].
While I’d worked with some e-Discovery platforms previously, Kira was my first extended exposure to new legal. And I have to say, it was very impressive. For example, on that project we were sometimes dealing with contracts that were 150 to 200 pages long, sometimes half of this would be in another language, and the way that the AI was able to pinpoint the relevant sections was fantastic.
Overall, it made the project far more efficient. I mean, for comparison, if you had that volume printed out and were working through it manually, the hours required to complete the work would have been at least ten-times greater.
It also improves confidence in the work, because you’re focusing more acutely on the relevant sections rather than being worn by extensive reading of parts of the contract that were not relevant.
Would you have any advice, for a newly qualified lawyer just starting out their career?
The biggest piece of advice I could give would be to recommend that you, as a newly qualified, gain exposure to as many different areas as possible. Throw yourself at everything. Listen to everybody. Get stuck into every piece of work you can.
And would you think that the consultancy work with Johnson Hana would help that?
Absolutely. Taking on these projects with Johnson Hana has been a great learning experience for me, and I’m certain it will help my career.
To be honest this is where I have to feel lucky with the clients I’ve had exposure to through Johnson Hana as well. Irish Water are a huge state body, and Frontline Ventures are a leading financial firm, so that’s all been massively positive for me.
And within those projects, there’s great exposure to EU law that will definitely help me as I build my practice.
One final question, what changes have you noticed – in the legal market – in the last few years?
Well I suppose that, other than the pandemic, for myself the biggest change would be Johnson Hana!
Something that all barristers will know, is how lean and tough those first few years can be. And, although I don’t have any figures to hand, I’m sure this actually turns a few away from the profession. But what Johnson Hana has done, is provide us with work that is flexible, relevant, and helps us build our careers further in those first few – very trying – years.
I think the legal market is modernising. And here in Ireland, Johnson Hana have had a big hand in shaping that, and exposing a broader pool of the profession to a steady stream of work.
Please note: The above is a transcript of a conversation between Jamie O’Gorman, Consultant, and John Champion of Johnson Hana. There have been some minor edits to improve clarity.
About Johnson Hana
Johnson Hana is Ireland’s leading alternative legal solutions provider. That means we disaggregate legal advisory and legal process work, and focus on the latter.
Legal Process Outsourcing – whereby a specific legal process is carved out and outsourced to us
Legal Process Secondments – to augment a busy legal team or fulfil a temporary requirement for an experienced legal professional.
Historically, legal advisory and legal process work were tackled and billed in the same way. This means that all legal work has been as costly and time consuming as legal advice.
It doesn’t need to be.
We deliver legal process work through a combination of innovative legal technologies, robust project management methodologies, and expert lawyers. This approach reduces client legal spend by over 50%, while also providing totally transparent reporting and billing. This leaves our clients free to focus on the strategic, advisory work that really adds value.