Mini Biography – Fionnuala McCredie QC

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Fionnuala McCredie QC

My mother was an Irish immigrant who came to this country to train as a nurse at the same time as the people who came on the Windrush and experienced the “no blacks no dogs no Irish” signs on the boarding house doors.  When I was young (and for a long time after) it was not very comfortable to be the child of an Irish immigrant and I grew up feeling like an outsider.

I was state educated for all but two years of my education.  I thought about the Bar at school, but it seemed an insurmountable target at the time.  After school I did a degree in Geography at Manchester University.  I then went to work for a housing association building and refurbishing homes for people in housing need.  While I was working, I did a part time Masters in Public and Social Administration at Brunel University.  We enjoyed our fair share of construction litigation at the housing association and we instructed Richard Fernyhough QC and Rosemary Jackson (as she then was), both Keating barristers.  This renewed my early interest in the Bar and I decided that I would like to try.  Encouraged by my mother, I left work, took out what seemed a huge professional studies loan and did the conversion course at Middlesex Polytechnic.  I wanted to do construction law and after Bar School and pupillage I was taken on at Serjeants’ Inn Chambers.  That was a great place for my early years at the Bar, full of friendship, fun and very hard work.  I spent 16 very happy years with good friends and colleagues.  However, the team doing construction there gradually diminished and in 2008 I moved to Keating, where I practice in public procurement and construction work.

I have been able to combine my work at the Bar with being the mother of two children (for part of the time as a single mother) with sympathetic clerking and supportive clients, both of which Keating has in abundance.  When I came to the Bar nearly thirty years ago, I felt at a disadvantage because I was not Oxbridge educated and I had done the conversion course and not a law degree.  It turns out that I managed without Oxbridge and I value my rather tortuous route to the Bar, and its setbacks.  The varied work that I did at the start of my practice broadened my experience and horizons and made me realise how very lucky we are at Keating.

Most of us suffer from imposter syndrome  – when my great friend and mentor at the Bar, the highly respected and extremely able Philip Naughton QC retired, he said at the dinner we held for him “I did it!  I fooled them all right to the end.”  Lots of us also suffer from the feeling that “we won’t fit in;” but the Bar is full of people from all sorts of backgrounds.  What counts is how good you are.  It has always been a tough profession to get into and to get started in, but a very able senior practitioner said to me when I started that if you really want it, and are prepared to work very hard and to never give up, you will get there.  And he was right.