We asked Louise Harrison, Employment Lawyer and Partner in Flynn O’Driscoll to share with us some insights on her experiences and how she draws inspiration from the environment around her, role models she had during her careers, the best advice she received, and what she sees as the biggest challenge facing leaders today.
Voltedge: What is your current role and how long you have held this position?
Louise: I am an employment lawyer and partner in Flynn O’Driscoll which is a corporate law firm focussed on Ireland’s SME, midmarket sector. I took up this role in October 2019 after 14 years with William Fry, where I trained as a solicitor and was ultimately appointed partner.
Voltedge: Where do you draw inspiration from?
Louise: I am inspired by my four-year old daughter Edith, who is a blessing beyond my powers of description and brings boundless joy into every day! I find inspiration in nature, particularly mountains and the sea, and I have always found music, books and film to be powerfully life-enhancing.
After a recent life-changing health challenge, I am currently feeling inspired by the beautiful Georgie Crawford who represents resilience and positivity and I am grateful for her raw honesty and her choice to use her platform to make what can be an extremely isolating experience better understood.
Voltedge: During the course of your career, was there a role model or mentor that stands out for you?
Louise: I have been lucky to have had excellent training and opportunities during my time in William Fry. Maura Roe mentored me generously for over 10 years and she stands out for her integrity and technical excellence. I can thank Alicia Compton for teaching me the art of dispensing with unnecessary words when drafting advices! Catherine O’Flynn would be a role model for any aspiring leader. I felt inspired in particular by her poise, her lack of ego and by how readily and openly she gives (deflects!) credit to others for accomplishments.
Voltedge: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?
Louise: I worked with the well-known media lawyer Michael Kealey many years ago, during my traineeship. He told me how important it was to be seen to be decisive and not equivocate or unduly ‘hedge’ my bets when advising clients. I still remember him warning me about how frustrating it feels, from a client’s perspective, to receive lengthy emails or letters saying ‘on the one hand (x) but on the other hand (y)’, where the author is apparently unwilling to recommend a course of action. This advice served me very well. My approach to my practice has been to focus not as much on providing commentary on legal issues or concepts as on identifying a manageable solution along with a practical implementation plan. This approach conforms well with the commercial ethos in Flynn O’Driscoll best summarised by Pat Flynn’s mantra “solutions, not problems!”.
Voltedge: What do you believe is the biggest challenge facing leaders today?
Louise: An awakening is well underway about work-life boundaries in this ‘always-on’ digital age and it will take bold, imaginative leadership to spearhead the change I feel is needed to keep the brightest talent motivated and invested. True flexible working (not a model that involves fitting five days of work into four paid days!) is increasingly viewed by employees as a core issue, not a luxury. I recall recently seeing the topic described as an ‘evolve or die’ moment for business and this resonated with me.
Voltedge: What is your favourite quote and why?
Louise: A very special friend gave me a framed print of Max Ehrmann’s. Desiderata recently and I take comfort and inspiration from it every day. It is a timeless reflection on life and perspective. I love it and looking at it reminds me of her kindness!