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the Legal System

the Legal System

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.

Occupations in the Legal System
(sorted by Job Zone)

Legal Secretary

Works in the offices of a legal firm dealing with legal documents and general office duties.

Law Clerk
Works closely with solicitors dealing with legal documents.
Legal Executive

A professional member of The Irish Institute of Legal Executives who assists in general and specialist legal matters.


Works closely with  solicitors and legal team members on a wide range of transactions, client work and support activities.

Data Protection Officer

Ensures compliance with and application of Data Protection Regulations in their organisation.


Solicitors provide people with legal advice and assistance. They work directly with their clients and are usually the first point of contact for anyone looking for legal advice.


Represents people in court of law by stating their case before a judge and jury.


A judge presides over law courts and makes judgements based on the evidence presented to them and the existing, relevant legislation.