Our People

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KOL - Ranked in Chambers 2024
 

Karen O’Leary – Partner, Head of Family Law

“An excellent practitioner, who goes above and beyond for her clients” – Chambers UK

Karen leads Caldwell & Robinson’s Family Law practice. With extensive experience on all issues that may arise upon the breakdown of a relationship and family law, her specialist expertise covers both private and public law, and multiple jurisdictions.

Qualified to practice in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, England, and Wales, Karen is regularly consulted by government and state agencies on legal matters from other jurisdictions. In 2011, she was invited to be a fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers (IAFL), an organisation of leading global family lawyers. She is also a regular speaker on family law matters and has addressed the Four Jurisdictions Family Law Conference on a number of occasions, the European Family Justice Observatory, most recently speaking about the implications of Brexit on family law.

Educated at the United World College (New Mexico, USA), Birmingham University, and the College of Law (Chester), Karen qualified as a solicitor in 1994. She worked for Gouldens (now Jones Day) in London and Brussels, before moving to Northern Ireland in 1995 when she was admitted as a solicitor in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

“A highly skilled advocate whose people skills and negotiating skills are impeccable.” She demonstrates considerable expertise in private family law cases, especially those with an international aspect, and one source notes that “her knowledge of childcare matters is unrivalled.” Chambers & Partners UK.

Memberships and qualifications:

  • Qualified mediator
  • Chartered Family Arbitrator
  • Fellow of the International Academy of Family Lawyers
  • Member of the Northern Ireland Children’s Panel
  • Member of Lawyers in Europe on Parental Child Abduction
  • Member of Central Authority of Northern Ireland panel on the Hague Convention
  • Member of the International Committee of Resolutions

E: k.oleary@caldwellrobinson.com
T: 0044 (0) 2871 261 334

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GK- Ranked in Chambers 2024

Geraldine Keehan – Partner, Head of Family and Child Law practise, Dublin

“A very experienced and professional solicitor who works hard to achieve the best results for her clients” – Chambers UK

Geraldine is an acknowledged expert in international and domestic family and child law. She is frequently sought out by colleagues, governing bodies and charities to advise on adoption, both domestic and international, and her work has been characterised by transparency, pragmatism, and ensuring that the best legal outcome is achieved for her client.

She regularly acts in domestic and international private family law matters, including divorce and custody agreements, and advises on international surrogacy cases.

Geraldine acts for Guardians ad Litem and advises on the application of international law, particularly in relation to the movement of children between jurisdictions. Her work on the rights of children, including their right to identity, has seen her advise several organisations on existing and pending legislation. She currently advises the Barnardos the Children’s Charity and, previously, the Adoption Authority of Ireland. She has been the lead solicitor in several significant High Court cases, and also acts for Local Authorities in England and Wales on matters pertaining to Brussels II.

Geraldine studied at University College Dublin (BSocSc), before completing a Masters in Law and Sociology at Brunel University, and working as a research associate at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She qualified as a solicitor in 1997 and is licensed to practice in the Republic of Ireland, England, and Wales.

Geraldine has significant experience in top family law firms in Dublin and London, and prior to joining Caldwell & Robinson, she was a Partner in Family and Child Law at Augustus Cullen Law Solicitors.

Memberships:

  • Law Society of Ireland
  • Law Society of England and Wales
  • Family Lawyers Association
  • Law Society of Ireland Family and Child Law Committee

E: geraldine.keehan@caldwellrobinson.com

T: 00353 (0) 1683 3391

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Emmett Maginn – Partner, Head of Dispute Resolution

Emmett is Head of Dispute Resolution at Caldwell & Robinson. He specialises in cross-border family disputes and holds current practicing certificates for Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, England, and Wales.

Emmett works across a number of the firm’s core practice areas, including:

  • Divorce and matrimonial disputes
  • Private and public law family matters
  • Disputes concerning adults and children who lack relevant mental capacity
  • Judicial review and actions for breach of statutory duty
  • Property litigation
  • Debt recovery

Emmett is a highly experienced advocate with over 10 years’ experience of advocating in courts in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland, England, and Wales. He also delivers regular training to external organisations across the range of practice areas referred to above.

E: emmett.maginn@caldwellrobinson.com

T: 0044 (0) 2871 261 334

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Dariona Conlon – Senior Solicitor, Healthcare, Medical Negligence and Regulatory Law

Dariona is a Senior Solicitor specialising in Healthcare, Medical Negligence and Regulatory law in the Republic of Ireland.

Dariona graduated from Trinity College Dublin with an LL.B (Hons) degree and subsequently trained and qualified as a Solicitor with A&L Goodbody. Dariona spent 10 years in private practice before taking up quasi-judicial positions as a Legal Board Member of The Residential Institutions Redress Board and as a Chairperson of Mental Health Tribunals. She served a 4 year term as the sole Legal Member of the Board of  Saolta University Health Care Group and a separate term as the sole Legal Board Member of The Saolta/NUIG  Clinical Research Governance & Oversight Board. She is currently a Panel Member of a Private Redress Scheme for Institutional Abuse in Northern Ireland. 

Dariona’s main areas of practice are in the following areas:

      • Medical Negligence
      • Coroner’s Inquests
      • Clinical Research Law
      • Child Protection Law and Historic Institutional Abuse
      • Negligence associated with defective medical products and devices
      • Mental Health Law
      • Regulatory matters (Medical and Non-Medical)
      • General Community Care
      • Public Law
      • Contract litigation
      • Probate

E: dariona.conlon@caldwellrobinson.com

T: 0044 (0) 2871 261 334

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Jade O’Kane – Senior Associate Solicitor, Private Client

Jade specialises in residential conveyancing, wills and probate, enduring powers of attorney, and controllership applications for private clients. She practices in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Jade studied Law at Queen’s University Belfast, where she achieved first place in Conveyancing and was awarded the McKane Medal for achieving first place in Jurisprudence. She undertook her professional legal training at the Graduate School of Professional Legal Education at the University of Ulster, and won the prestigious Arthur Cox prize for being placed first overall in the Postgraduate Diploma in professional legal practice. Since qualifying, she has also completed a course in Commercial Conveyancing.

“What impresses me most about Jade is her efficiency and attention to detail.  I would be happy to recommend Jade to anyone because I know the level of service that she has given me and my customers in the past.  She is a pleasure to work with.”  (A. McE.)

E: j.okane@caldwellrobinson.com
T: 0044 (0) 2871 261 334

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Clare McEleney – Solicitor, Family Law

Clare joined Caldwell & Robinson’s Family Law practice in 2017 as a trainee and completed her legal training with the firm in September 2018.

She studied Law (LLB Honours) at the University of Ulster, before undertaking the Legal Practice Course at the Institute of Professional Studies at Queens University Belfast.

E: clare.mceleney@caldwellrobinson.com
T: 0044 (0) 2871 261 334

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Joanna Burns – Solicitor, Family and Child Law

Joanna joined Caldwell & Robinson in 2023, based in our Belfast office. Joanna advises both married and unmarried couples in relation to divorce, separation, financial matters and children disputes. Her cases often involve substantial financial assets held in the UK and abroad.

Joanna has a particular expertise in representing clients where there are allegations of domestic abuse, including physical or emotional abuse and controlling and coercive behaviour. She is a solicitor advocate, with rights of audience in the Higher Courts.

Joanna studied at Queen’s University Belfast (LLB) before completing her Diploma in Professional Legal Studies with Commendation at the Institute of Professional Legal Studies. She has extensive experience in Family Law, as well as in Defence Litigation, Criminal Law and Civil Litigation.

EJoanna.Burns@caldwellrobinson.com
T: 0044 (0) 2890 130 567

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Clodagh Hopkins – Senior Solicitor, Family Law

Clodagh specialises in Family and Private Client law.  She has over 25 years’ experience in advising clients in all aspects of family law including separation, divorce, pre-nuptials, abduction and Safety Orders, operating extensively in each of the District, Circuit and High Courts.  She also has extensive experience in other areas of law including wills & probate, litigation, commercial leases and employment law.

Clodagh ran her own firm for ten years before merging her office with a private client firm in Ballsbridge Dublin 4.  She successfully attended Harvard University’s Mediation Disputes Programme, served on the Law Society of Ireland’s Family and Childcare Law Committee, and holds a Diploma in Commercial Law.

E: clodagh.hopkins@caldwellrobinson.com
T: 00353 (0) 1683 3391

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Michelle Craven – Solicitor, Family Law

Michelle has extensive experience in Family Law and has worked exclusively in this area since April 2013 with a large boutique Family Law Firm in Dublin, qualifying as a Solicitor in December 2016. Michelle focuses mainly on Divorce, Separation, Cohabitation, Dissolution, Guardianship rights, Custody, and Access with additional experience in Child Abduction, recognition of foreign divorces and Relocation matters. Michelle is a qualified Collaborative Practitioner since 2016 and has a keen interest in alternative dispute resolutions. Michelle believes that most family law matters can be resolved prior to Court appearance and as such is an advocate for Mediation, Collaborative Practice and alternative resolutions.

Michelle has a LLM (Masters in Human Rights Law) in which she received a honours therein. Michelle’s dissertation was in respect of the Children’s Rights to have a Voice in Matrimonial Proceedings.  Michelle has also represented the Law Society of Ireland and placed in a number of international Mediation Competitions in both United States and Europe.

Memberships:

  • Association of Collaborative Practitioners
  • Law Society of Ireland
  • Law Society of Northern Ireland
  • Law Society of England and Wales
  • Family Lawyers Association

E: michelle.craven@caldwellrobinson.com
T: 00353 (0) 1683 3391

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Aoifé McColgan – Trainee Solicitor

Aoifé joined the firm as a paralegal in 2021 alongside her Masters in Law studies at Queen’s University Belfast. She graduated with Honours in summer 2022 before undertaking the Legal Practice Course at the Institute of Professional Studies at Queen’s University Belfast. She commenced her solicitor training contract with the firm in September 2022 under the mentorship of Philip Gilliland and Karen O’Leary and currently works in our Dispute Resolution team under the guidance of Emmett Maginn.

Aoifé studied English Literature and Film Studies (B.A. Hons) at Trinity College Dublin and previously worked in the book publishing industry in London. She is also a part of the Women and the Law team at QUB LawPod.

E: aoife.mccolgan@caldwellrobinson.com
T: 0044 (0) 2871 261 334

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Níamh Harkin – Paralegal

Níamh Harkin joined the firm as a Paralegal in 2022, working in our Family Department under Senior Partner, Karen O’Leary. She is currently studying Law at the Ulster University at the Magee Campus and so works with the firm part-time. Prior to joining Caldwell & Robinson, Níamh previously worked as a Corporate Paralegal for Deloitte, based in their Manchester office.

E: niamh.harkin@caldwellrobinson.com
T: 0044 (0) 2871 261 334

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Becca Keane – Paralegal

Becca joined the firm as a paralegal in 2023. She has a keen interest in Family Law and works in the Family Department under Senior Partner, Karen O’Leary and Solicitor, Joanna Burns.

Becca is a Galway native, and a fluent Irish speaker. She graduated with honours from University of Limerick in 2023 and is continuing her studies to become a Trainee Solicitor in the Republic of Ireland.

E: becca.keane@caldwellrobinson.com
T: 0044 (0) 2871 261 334

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