Meet Maria McNally, Associate Director in our Dispute Resolution team

Associate Director in our Dispute Resolution team, Maria McNally, tells us about her role at Cleaver Fulton Rankin, her career journey to date, and her advice for other women in the legal profession. 

Tell us about your role at Cleaver Fulton Rankin?

I am an Associate Director in the Dispute Resolution Team at Cleaver Fulton Rankin, specialising in Insolvency and Debt Recovery. In my role, I provide specialist legal advice to national insolvency practitioners, banks and leading financial institutions across a wide range of contentious and non-contentious insolvency related matters including formal insolvency procedure and loan enforcement.

I also sit on the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion committee and am passionate about supporting young women embarking on legal careers. I’ve been fortunate to have had the opportunity to contribute to our firm’s diversity & inclusion strategy, policies and initiatives and have played a role in our achievement of the Bronze Diversity Charter Mark.

Tell us about your career journey – how did you get to where you are now?

I qualified as a solicitor in 2011 with a commercial law firm in Belfast.  Upon qualification, I joined Housing Rights where I had a fantastic opportunity to work in collaboration with the Department of Justice and the Legal Services Commission to implement a pilot project called the Housing Possession Court Duty Scheme.  My role included attending all County Court and High Court repossession hearings to provide free legal advice and make submissions to the court on behalf of homeowners and tenants at risk of losing their home.  The effects of the recession in 2007 resulted in significant financial hardship for many people, so this free service was invaluable.  During my time at Housing Rights, the scheme helped over 2,500 people.  This service remains available today and is something that I am proud to have been a part of from its inception.

Although I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Housing Rights, I decided that I wanted to move back to private practice.  In 2015, I joined Cleaver Fulton Rankin’s Dispute Resolution Team where I have strengthened my skills through acting on many challenging and specialised cases.  With support from the firm, I qualified as a Mediator in 2019 and was awarded a Certificate in Civil and Commercial Mediation.

I recognise the importance of mentoring solicitors who are entering the profession and I enjoy teaching Trainee Solicitors in Business and Insolvency Law at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies, Queen’s University, Belfast.

Do you have any advice for other women in law?

My advice would be to trust your gut and stay true to yourself. If something does not feel right, then take a step back and think about it before committing yourself. Other opportunities will present themselves, so it is ok to pass on an offer. When something feels right, it is more likely to succeed. When making an important decision, I trust my intuition and so far, it has worked for me.

What is the one skill that helps you most in your role?

Communication.  Being able to communicate in a clear and effective manner with clients, colleagues and judges is extremely important in my role.  I specialise in contentious areas of law, therefore the majority of the cases I advise on proceed to court if they cannot be resolved.  Bringing a matter before the court requires a commitment not only financially but also personally so it is critical that clients are informed before proceeding.

Find out more about our Dispute Resolution services on our dedicated webpage.

How can we help you?

Call us on the Belfast number below or send us a message and one of our team will be in touch.

028 9024 3141
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