"It gave me the opportunity to use my legal skills to help other people" - interview with Wayne Tyrrell, FLAC Volunteer, on National Volunteer Week 2019
14 May 2019
Interview with Wayne Tyrrell - FLAC Volunteer Family Law Advisor
Wayne is a barrister, having been called to the Bar in 2008. He is currently working as in-house counsel for the Irish Aviation Authority and previously lectured at Carlow I.T. in family law and child law as well as working in the Irish Defence Forces. He is a Scout leader with Scouting Ireland and enjoys Scouting with his children. He also enjoys sailing and teaching sailing.
What clinics do you volunteer at and what type of cases do you do?
I usually advise at the Meath Street clinic, doing family law and employment law, and I also assist in Aungier Street as well.
What did you know about FLAC before you started?
I was aware of its existence but I didn’t know a lot about FLAC. I was aware that it provided free legal assistance. I didn’t know anyone doing it at the time but I researched it online and made an application and it was all very straightforward after that.
How did you find out about the FLAC clinics? What made you volunteer?
I joined five years ago, when I was a legal officer in the army. It gave me the opportunity to use my legal skills to help other people.
What is the rewarding aspect of advising at the clinics?
I believe FLAC is a really grounding and levelling experience. You meet people in extremely tough situations, people who are in some of the most difficult situations you could imagine in life. Not only are they going through generally some family difficulty, but they are often in a poor financial position and not able to obtain legal assistance in another way, so they turn to FLAC.
The most rewarding aspect of the clinics is to be able to help people at that time of great need by providing a service that is something that would be outside of their reach financially and would be difficult for them to get. I find particularly in family law, FLAC gives a kind of help that would allow them to make their situation better.
I come home and I feel like a better person by devoting my time to FLAC. You see the difficulties that people have to deal with and you then are in a position to help them out.
What is the most challenging aspect of advising at clinics?
One challenge I find is that there is a shortage of volunteers - often if a volunteer doesn’t show up FLAC may have to look for someone at short notice. This means you get phone calls at the last minute to step in and often you know that if you don’t, the clinic may not go ahead and as a result 8-12 people may not get the chance they’ve been waiting for and receive the legal aid they need.
What would you say to anyone thinking of volunteering?
Volunteering at a clinic allows young lawyers to get exposed to very complicated cases. You do many interviews in a night, and you get a chance to consider both the legal advice and sometimes even a bit of life advice. You get a chance to help service users understand how to approach their legal problems and you gain great experience!