Whatever legal profession you enter, the structure of the legal system will have a direct influence on the type of work you will be doing. There are some important concepts to be introduced to when planning your career.
Branches of Law
The Irish legal system is divided into two branches, civil and criminal courts, which adjudicate civil and criminal law respectively. If you practice civil law you will be dealing with disagreements between individuals, organisations and the state. These involve lawsuits over harms one party claims another party caused to them. The punishment in civil cases is generally money, and jail is not involved.
If you practice criminal law you will be dealing with situations where someone could go to jail. Criminal cases involve instances of the state prosecuting people accused of crimes, where they have robbed, defrauded or attacked people.The Courts
There are four steps in the courts system, the District Court, the Circuit Court, the High Court and the Supreme Court. Two other courts sit alongside this system to perform specific functions, Special Criminal Court and the Court of Appeal.
The District Court deals with minor case, there are different district courts covering specific areas.
The Circuit Court handles more severe civil and criminal matters. Cases from the circurt court are appealed to The High Court, which will deal with the most serious offences. Appeals from the circuit and high courts will progress to the Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court is the final court of appeal, where the most testing questions of law are hammered out. The judges on the Supreme Court are the most authoritative in the state.