James Kirk


Year of Call

James Kirk

James Kirk is a public lawyer specialising in social housing, community care, asylum and immigration law.


James’ practice covers all aspects of housing, community care, asylum and immigration law, and he is often instructed in complex cases in which these areas of law intersect. He was, for example, junior counsel in a recent successful discrimination challenge to the regulations that determine eligibility for social housing assistance.


Prior to commencing practice as a barrister, James worked in the Irish foreign ministry and with a number of human rights organisations, and he continues to carry out advisory work on international law, human rights, and justice sector development issues.

Housing and Social Welfare

James practises in the full range of housing proceedings, and is committed to securing housing for vulnerable and disadvantaged clients. He regularly appears in complex possession proceedings, and has in many cases successfully advanced public law, human rights, and discrimination defences.

James also has extensive experience of homelessness proceedings, including both statutory appeals and claims for judicial review. Given that he practises in both housing and immigration law, James is often instructed in homelessness cases that require immigration expertise. He is currently instructed in a number of homelessness cases that involve complex and novel eligibility arguments.

Asylum and Immigration

James is regularly instructed in immigration appeals and judicial review proceedings, and he has particular expertise in asylum and human rights claims. He frequently represents highly vulnerable clients in asylum and human rights cases, including clients with mental health problems, victims of trafficking, and unaccompanied asylum seeking children and young people.

James is also experienced in advising and representing a broad range of clients under the points-based system. He has advised investors on their initial applications; drafted successful administrative review applications on behalf of artists challenging refusals of entry clearance; and represented entrepreneurs in their successful appeals.

Community Care

James has experience of a wide range of community care work, including, in particular, cases in which clients are seeking accommodation outside the provisions of the Housing Act 1996 and challenges to local authority age assessments.

Administrative and Public

James is frequently instructed in judicial review proceedings, particularly in relation to housing, community care, asylum and immigration. He is often instructed in judicial review claims in which these areas of law intersect.

Recently, for example, he acted in a claim in which he successfully argued that a local authority had failed to appreciate and make adequate inquiry into the complex immigration issues arising in his client’s application for social housing assistance. He was also junior counsel in Romans v London Borough of Southwark and Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, a discrimination challenge in response to which the Secretary of State amended the regulations that determine eligibility for social housing assistance.


Before commencing practice at the Bar, James worked in the Legal Division of the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, where he advised and prepared briefings on a broad range of issues in international law and assisted with the preparation of cases before the European Court of Human Rights.

James previously worked as a legal consultant with the International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) in East Timor, where he led a long-term project that monitored, reported and advised on the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed during the Indonesian occupation. Prior to working with ICTJ, James worked as a fellow (funded by New York University School of Law) with Timap for Justice, an organisation that provides free legal services and brings public interest suits in Sierra Leone.

James continues to carry out consulting and advisory work on international law, human rights, and justice sector development issues. Recent work has included a consultancy by which he was tasked with assessing the legal aid system in East Timor and making recommendations for change.



LL.M (International Legal Studies), New York University School of Law

LL.B  (First Class Honours), Trinity College Dublin


Awards and scholarships


Harmsworth Scholar, Middle Temple

International Law and Human Rights Fellow, NYU School of Law

King’s Inns award for best contribution to the Irish Student Law Review

Entrance Exhibition, Trinity College Dublin


About cookies on our website

Following a revised EU directive on website cookies, each company based, or doing business, in the EU is required to notify users about the cookies used on their website.

Our site uses cookies to improve your experience of certain areas of the site and to allow the use of specific functionality like social media page sharing. You may delete and block all cookies from this site, but as a result parts of the site may not work as intended.

To find out more about what cookies are, which cookies we use on this website and how to delete and block cookies, please see our Which cookies we use page.

Click on the button below to accept the use of cookies on this website (this will prevent the dialogue box from appearing on future visits)