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Patricia O'Brien (born 8 February 1957) served as United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs and United Nations Legal Counsel from 2008 to 2013. She was appointed by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in August 2008.
Prior to joining the UN, O'Brien collected extensive experience serving as Legal Adviser to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ireland since 2003, where she provided advice on legal issues arising in Irish foreign policy. Previously, she was a Senior Legal Adviser in the Office of the Irish Attorney General and Legal Counsellor at the Irish Permanent Representation to the European Union in Brussels.
O'Brien was a lawyer at the Irish Bar from 1979 to 1988. Between 1989 and 1992, she taught at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver.
She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in legal science in 1978 and was conferred with a Master of Arts degree in 1987 from Trinity College, Dublin.