William Prasifka was born in Dublin in 1990. After graduating from high school, William attended Columbia University in New York where he studied history and philosophy. He became particularly interested in nineteenth century American populism and completed a thesis which examined Charles Stewart Parnell’s American connections.
On leaving Columbia, William completed a law degree at the University of Cambridge. Here he was captain of his college’s cricket team. After completing several legal internships in both Dublin and London, William decided to become a barrister being called to the Irish Bar in July 2015. He was subsequently admitted as a barrister in Middle Temple in London.
William’s practice focuses on commercial and administrative law. He has published numerous academic articles and has appeared before the Irish High Court and Court of Appeal.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I am particularly interested in law and in arguing cases before a court. I find that the most interesting aspects of law arise when there is a conflict between parties. I enjoy representing clients in court and arguing their case.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
At present and due to the current public health emergency, the Irish courts have gone largely online. As well as attending virtual court hearings, I spend my day writing legal opinions, drafting pleadings and meeting with clients.
How do you bring ideas to life?
In my profession, ideas and arguments are brought forth in the courtroom or in written opinions. It is gratifying when your ideas and arguments for a case resonate with others who hear or read them.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The fact that the legal world is moving online gives rise to a great number of possibilities. Going forward, it may be possible for lawyers to practice across multiple jurisdictions. Given that I have studied in the United States and have been called to the Bar of England and Wales I would hope to take advantage of this trend.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
It’s not very exciting, but keeping a written to do list has a huge number of advantages. It allows you to break work down into its component parts and allows you to keep track of your progress. In addition to promoting good organizational habits, keeping a list also prevents the stress that can come with feeling uncertain or unprepared.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I suppose that I would tell my younger self not to get too emotionally involved in one’s own success or failure. Unfortunately (or fortunately) there is much in one’s professional life that is beyond our control. No one gets int every university or gets every job they apply for. You just need to take advantage of the opportunities that you do get.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
This is obviously a very difficult question. One prominent Silicon Valley CEO answers this question by saying that the western world, despite popular belief, is not making that much technological progress. He uses the example of New York subways being run just as they were one hundred years ago. While the iPhone is improving, progress in other areas, such as transportation, is very incremental.
I largely agree with this view and is certainly true in my own profession. The way in which cases are argued has not changed greatly in the last century. Some people may be surprised to learn that before Covid-19, the photocopier was all that separated a nineteenth century court from a present day one.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
You need to master the details of your case. While this answer is boring, you would be surprised by how many lawyers fail to sufficiently prepare. Preparation is the key to success in a lot of industries, and the same is true for the legal profession.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
In a small market like Ireland, you cannot underestimate the power of personal referral. You could be acting against a lawyer one week and with them the next. Being polite and courteous to everyone is a powerful force.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
While we do not like to talk about it, barristers frequently lose cases. It can be a devastating feeling sometimes, particularly after you have advised a client to go to court. In such circumstances, you need to remind yourself that certain things are beyond your control. You learn lessons from your loss and move on.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Although I’m a barrister and not really a business person, I have an idea which pertains to the organizational habits of any professional. Without a dedicated administrative team or assistant, keeping computer files organized at all times can be a hassle, especially when people are busy with their own work. My idea would be some sort of cloud-based AI which can automatically and securely organize your work files and information so it can easily be accessed without any hassle.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I recently purchased a subscription to the Financial Times. It’s a great paper.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
You can’t beat Microsoft Word. In my work, a good word processor is vital to my daily tasks. While there are other examples of word processors that may not require updates as frequently, I’ve yet to find something that truly compares to Microsoft Word.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’m a huge fan of Dostoevsky and would recommend any of his major novels. On a lighter note, the best sports book that I have ever read is the autobiography of John Daly. Its title “My Life in and out of the Rough” tells you in a large part what the book is about. Let’s say that the golfer had a very colorful life before he became famous.
What is your favorite quote?
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” – attributed to Einstein
• Keep a to-do list to stay on track
• Remember the power of personal referrals
• Master details of a case to be sufficiently prepared
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.