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singing solicitor Donegal lawyer and musician Jacqui Sharkey says life experience through work inspires her music

She hopes to quit courtroom drama for a life on the stage

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Lawyer Jacqui Sharkey recently launched her new single, The Light

Lawyer Jacqui Sharkey recently launched her new single, The Light

Lawyer Jacqui Sharkey recently launched her new single, The Light

Jacqui Sharkey is a top Irish singer and songwriter with a difference - she's also one of the country's leading lawyers.

The Donegal-based legal eagle has just landed recording and publishing deals - and tells the Sunday World her days in court are now numbered.

"A lot of the experiences that I've had with the law have taught me about other people's life experiences, and it all kind of crosses over into the music and songwriting for me," she says as she launches her new single, The Light.

"I do get great satisfaction out of helping people, and that's what it's all about for me… to get people out of difficult situations. But it (the law) is full-on and it's stressful.

"Now it would be nice to concentrate on music, because that's where my passion is, and that's what I'd love to do full-time."

But she will wait until the music scene recovers before making her final decision to sell her practice.

She says: "I trained with one of the oldest law firms in Donegal, O'Donnell & Sweeney in Dungloe, and that's now my practice. From a young age, I always wanted to study law, as well as being wrapped up in music.

"It's been a strange life for the last 20 years. It's kinda like turning around in the phone box, like Doctor Who, and doing something else. It's been a bit weird, but I have no regrets about what I studied."

In her early career, Sharkey was involved in helping to change the law to have foster children treated equally with natural children when it comes to inheritance

"I took on a case to try and assert rights for foster children because, under the law, they didn't have the same rights as adopted children or natural children," Jacqui says.

"It led to a lot of the opening up of the law in relation to foster children and tax laws. It's been interesting, but I'd love to go on and concentrate on the music."

She was inspired to take up law after watching American TV court dramas - and admits to bringing a showbiz flair to the courtroom.

"I do like the courtroom and I tend to be quite dramatic," she laughs. "I always remember the first time I went into court, I was swinging in with a long coat on and being very dramatic. I definitely looked like I'd been trained in America.

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"I think that's what it's all about, you have to be a bit dramatic to get your point across in court. It's another form of showbiz. When I'm in court I tend to go into another person when I'm fighting a case."

Jacqui, whose parents are from Mullaghduff, Co Donegal, grew up outside Glasgow, but moved back to Ireland in the 1990s. "As a teenager, I used to play the keyboards in Daniel O'Donnell's hotel, The Viking House," she reveals.

She qualified as a solicitor in Dublin, but never gave up on music and has shared stages with artists from Daniel to the late Liam Reilly of Bagatelle, Clannad's Moya Brennan and Billy Ocean.

"I have no regrets about pursuing a career in law because I get great satisfaction out of helping people get out of situations, and I enjoyed the courtroom. But music has always been my passion, and more so now," Jacqui says.

Now signed to Peer Music, the largest independent music publisher in the world, Jacqui's song, The Light is a powerful ballad about the turmoil in the world.

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