Celebrating Women In Law, With Rioghnach Kavanagh

As part of international Women’s Day we are celebrating Women in Law and the challenges they face within their careers. 

Rioghnach is a practising Barrister in Northern Ireland. Her practice is predominantly focused on family and criminal law. Rioghnach is currently on The Attorney General’s Junior Barrister Panel. 

For more information on Rioghnagh and the challenges she has faced as a lawyer, watch her Ted X talk called ‘Are the Cards Against us?’.

What challenges have you faced as a female within your industry?

I remember being told, at a careers event of all places, that a young female barrister is seen ‘at the bottom of the food chain’ when it comes to challenges they will face at the bar. Charming, I know! The main challenge is not to let negative stereotypes define you and be more assertive in yourself and your abilities. For me, coping with imposter syndrome was a massive hurdle that I had to actively work on, and one that will still crop up from time to time.

Who is your female role-model and why?

Celebrity wise, this may be a cliche answer, but Michelle Obama. She didn’t resign to a passive role as a First Lady, and continues to carve out her own unique path and accomplishments to empower other women.

Professionally, I would have to say Justice Siobhan Keegan, who alongside Justice McBride, were the first two women to be appointed as HIgh Court judges in NI. Her accomplishments are extraordinary in itself, but her approachable nature and genuine care and respect for practitioners and the judiciary is really inspiring as a member of the Young Bar. 

What advice would you give to the younger female generation and what can they do to make a difference?

You cannot pour from an empty cup: be firm with the boundaries you set yourself. Everyone has different priorities in life, don’t compromise your own to please others. Most importantly, never apologise for standing up for yourself, both professionally and in your personal life, My mum always instilled this in me and it hasn’t steered me wrong yet!

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