Law graduate (23) passes New York Bar exam

A STRABANE woman who has passed the New York Bar exam is among one of the youngest to do so.

Twenty three-year-old Lucy Relf, daughter of Emma, sat the exam in February having moved to the United States a year ago to begin a new life.

A past pupil of St Mary's Primary School and Holy Cross College, Lucy graduated with a LLB Law degree from Queens University Belfast in the summer of 2019.

Thereafter, she worked at Allen & Overy in the city as a legal professional gaining valuable experience.

It was during her time with the company that Lucy said she knew she wanted to live and work in New York.

"We worked with the Allen & Overy New York team a few times on different projects for cases and their law/legal system always interested me," she told the Strabane Weekly News.

"I always knew I wanted to move away and New York is well established as the heart of the legal world."

Lucy subsequently packed up and move across the pond in April 2021 to begin a new life in Manhattan and soon set about the process of applying for the New York Bar.

Juggling her job in a law firm in the Rockefeller Center in New York, the Ballycolman woman self-taught and revised for the all important exam for a year.

If you pass the exam you are allowed to practice law in the New York jurisdiction.

"It took a lot of hours and a lot of revision every day for many months before and after work but it was worth it in the end up," she continued.

"I had to apply for the New York Bar examination online myself and submit all my law degree paperwork and transcript to prove my foreign degree qualified.

"Once that was approved, I taught myself using courses and materials I found online which was daunting as it was all areas of law I had never seen before and I had to start from scratch.

"Also, it took me a long time to get my head around the exam structure and how the examiners require the writing style."

The exam itself was held over the course of two days, eight hours per day.

With research showing that the average age to pass the exam is 30, it made the feat all the more impressive when Lucy received the news she had passed.

"It meant so much. I am delighted," she said.

"I only moved out to New York a year ago in April 2021 so having passed this exam so soon means I can progress in my career.

Presently working as a legal assistant, once she is sworn in as an attorney, Lucy intends to seek an attorney position.

The swearing in ceremony is scheduled for early next year and Lucy hopes her nearest and dearest can attend to witness the proud moment.

"The ceremony will be around Christmas time I believe because there is a lot of administrative paperwork that is needed before first before you are sworn in and make the oath," she added.

"Family are allowed to attend. I don’t know the many members in a number figure but my close family will all be making the trip out to experience that day with me."

Looking ahead, the Strabane woman does not see a return to her hometown anytime soon, and has her sights firmly on staying in New York.

"I don’t know exactly what my plans are," she said. "I moved out with my boyfriend who is also from Strabane. He got a good job as a cost manager in a large firm located in the city so we both will see where the opportunities take us.

"I don’t see us coming back to Ireland any time soon anyway. New York has our hearts now."

Life in the metropolis of New York may be vastly different from life here, but Strabane will always be home and Lucy is looking forward to bringing family and friends over for a visit.

She continued: "I love New York; the lifestyle, the weather and the job opportunities are endless.

"Every day there is something new to do which I love. There is a large Irish community out here also which is great.

"I miss my family and friends back home but it’s exciting when they can come visit New York, stay with us and we can show them all about!.

"Moving away is the best decision I ever made. I couldn’t recommend it enough.

"Home is always home and it will always be there is what I always think.

"Also, sitting the New York Bar is a great alternative that not many law graduates back home consider but because I am now quailed in New York I can always sit an exam back home to become a qualified lawyer in England without any training contracts etc so it speeds up the process hugely."

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