MOST people dream about moving away from home, spreading their wings and making a new life in a far-flung place. In truth it rarely happens, but one young Strabane woman is currently living her best life in the Big Apple, and is on the brink of becoming a US New York attorney.
Lucy Relf (23), hailing from the Ballycolman, swapped the green grass of home for Manhattan’s concrete jungle last year in the midst of the pandemic to begin a new life in New York with the aim of becoming a lawyer.
Having schooled in St Mary’s and Holy Cross College, Lucy went on to study law at Queens and settled into life in Belfast. However, itchy feet soon took hold when her boyfriend was offered the chance to work in New York and, once their university degrees were complete, the couple jetted off in April last year.
Speaking to the Chronicle this week Lucy explained, “I always knew I wanted to move away and experience a different lifestyle and give myself more opportunities. My desire was only heightened when Covid hit as there was nothing to do on the horizon here for us.
“New York first came into the picture after my boyfriend got offered a job in New York as a cost manager in a global firm. It’s a city I’ve always wanted to visit, and it’s renowned to be the heart of the legal sector, so no better place to ply my trade.”
If Lucy initially thought that jumping on a plane and heading off in search of employment would be easy, that was soon dispelled.
As she explained, “In general, getting a job in America can be really difficult. There are a lot of hoops to go through. Firstly, you need to find an employer willing to sponsor you in order to secure a visa. The job role must also relate to the sector in which you graduated from university. None of this was easy. Once the decision to move was made, I began applying for jobs online and sending my CV and personal statement to law firms.”
An exhausting process began, with Lucy sitting many interviews, all done via Skype. Eventually, she secured a paralegal position at the heart of Wall Street. Having now secured the job, her next challenge was to pass the New York Bar exam, enabling Lucy to practice when she arrived Stateside.
“Passing the bar was tough. Every day for many months before and after work, I studied and studied, using online courses and materials after applying online to sit the exam to prove I was qualified.
“US law is different in many ways from UK or Irish law, so I had to learn a lot of new facets of law from scratch. Passing the US Bar exam has great advantages should I ever go back home as it means there are certain things I won’t require thanks to having the US Bar.
“The exam was taken over a two-day period, eight hours a day. Getting my head around it was tough, but worth it in the end,” the Strabane woman insists.
The average age of those who pass the exam is 30, so for Lucy to achieve this at the tender age of 23 is no mean feat. Lucy will attend the swearing in ceremony early next year. her family back home are understandably incredibly supportive and delighted at the news.
Outside of her budding legal career, Lucy and her boyfriend, Padhraic McCay, are settling nicely into life in New York. She does miss Strabane, but admits the Big Apple is now where it’s at.
“We love New York; the lifestyle, the weather and the job opportunities are endless. Every day brings something new, and there’s a large Irish community present here. I miss my family and friends back home, and it always will be home. but it’ll be exciting when they can visit. I don’t know what the future holds, I think we’ll 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,” Lucy added.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.
Receive quality journalism wherever you are, on any device. Keep up to date from the comfort of your own home with a digital subscription.
Any time | Any place | Anywhere
SUBSCRIBE TO CURRENT EDITION TODAYand get access to our archive editions dating back to 2007
(CLICK ON THE TITLE BELOW TO SUBSCRIBE)