Kiara Daly is a Partner at Barden. In 2018 she founded Barden legal practice, together with Jonathan Olden, which is an entrepreneur-led specialist recruitment practice that is laser focused on building professional teams and helping legal professionals make more informed decisions about their future.
Kiara is a qualified solicitor with post qualification experience in private practice and in-house. She also has an established background in recruitment. This powerful combination is what makes her different when it comes to legal recruitment. We sat down recently with Kiara to learn a little bit more about her….
Where are you from?
Where did you study?
I studied a Bachelor of Law in UCC and then went on to Blackhall with the Law Society of Ireland, qualifying as a solicitor in 2010.
What did you enjoy most about your time studying?
It might sound lame but it would have to be the tea and chats in the old bar every day (and getting to go out to parties 2-3 nights a week)! The actual studying part was the only drawback…
How old were you when you had your first paying job?
I was 14, and my first paying job was waitressing.
Where did you work before joining Barden?
While I was in school and college I always kept part time jobs in waitressing, bar work and promotions – this sufficiently funded my busy social life and I stupidly never saved a penny!
For a while in college I used to also help out with answering the phones in my parents’ business on a Friday morning – until my mother politely fired me for being permanently hoarse after Thursday nights out…
Once I finished college, I took up legal assistant roles in Cork and London, until I had secured a traineeship with a law firm in Dublin. Having taken a break to travel I commenced the traineeship, qualified and spent 3 years in private practice before moving to an in-house legal role. It was from that role that I decided to take the leap into legal recruitment.
Is there an achievement or contribution that you’re most proud of?
Professionally I would think it has to be successfully moving into recruitment. It was a big change but so many of the soft skills and attributes I had gained from my time in legal stood to me, particularly resilience! I’ve learnt a lot about myself and continue to do so every day.
What made you decide to move into the world of recruitment?
It might sound idealistic but I was really drawn to the concept of a job that involved ME so much. In any job your interpersonal skills will carry you far, but in recruitment you really bring your personality and values to the job which makes it much more fulfilling. Inversely, the subject matter of my job is people. Recruitment is not for everyone but for me, people, their own personalities, values and career conundrums are a much more interesting subject matter than purely legal matters!
I was doing fine working as a solicitor, and in many ways, it suited my personality well, but that didn’t mean I needed to do it forever. I always believed it might be possible to choose another path that suited me even better. And then I found recruitment!
Why did you choose to set up Barden’s Legal practice?
I started my recruitment career with a larger global recruitment agency. It is a fantastic employer and company; I was very lucky to work there and to get the opportunity to re-launch their legal desk after the economic downturn.
However my own style and long term plans are best suited to a smaller, specialist group like Barden. The opportunity arose for me to start Barden’s legal practice and it made a lot of sense.
When I moved to recruitment I went against the grain to an extent (a lot of my friends thought I was mad) but I stood over my decision that it’s okay to do things differently to my peers. Barden, as a group are happy to do things differently within the recruitment space and I admired that.
What’s the best thing about working here?
The people here are fantastic. Everyone holds themselves to high standards both in the quality of advice they give and the decisions they make while in sometimes complex recruitment processes.
Nobody in Barden would choose a convenient placement or fee over doing the right thing by a company and candidate, we understand that there is a long term gain in the latter. Nobody here is special in that regard, it is simply expected that we are like this and so this culture is maintained. At Barden, there are minimal KPIs and no focus on revenue. We generally don’t even know who has brought in the most revenue on a given month or year. This really makes Barden different and takes the “sales” element out of our culture.
What was most surprising to you about Barden?
How well we have done in such a short space of time. Clients seek us out and engage with us in such a meaningful way. Not only does that help the business to succeed, but it makes my job so much more enjoyable.
As co-founder of Barden’s legal practice what does an ‘average day’ look like?
I lead the business and so that covers both the desk job, but also pushing things forward in terms of strategy, marketing, events and expanding our knowledge as specialists in legal recruitment.
The “desk job” involves speaking with companies, law firms and candidates daily. Sometimes we are discussing a particular role or recruitment process, other times its very general career and market related conversations.
What three words best describe you?
Chatty, Over-thinker, Reactive!
Glass half full or half empty?
I think I talk like it’s half empty but I’m secretly quite an optimistic person, but I’m also very superstitious so rarely voice my positive thoughts!
Where in the world would you most like to visit?
This strongly depends on my mood!
And finally, who would win a fight between Spiderman, Batman or Wonder-Woman?
Wonder-Woman, I reckon she would outwit the guys – she really has it all – the horses, great friends/family, the island life and that hair!!!