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Sir Paul Girvan completed his education at BRA in 1967 and attended Clare College, Cambridge, graduating in 1970, B.A. (Cantab). He then studied for the Bar and in 1971 secured first place in the English Bar Finals. He was called to the Bar of Northern Ireland in 1971 and appointed Q.C. in 1982. He was appointed a Judge of the High Court of Northern Ireland in 1995 and became Chancery Judge in 1997. He was put in charge of the Judicial Review List in 2004 and conducted a large number of high-profile judicial review cases. In 2007, he was appointed Lord Justice of Appeal and also became a member of the Privy Council.

During his career, Sir Paul was widely regarded as an intellectual leader among the Northern Ireland Judiciary and possessed an unrivalled reputation in delivering erudite judgments in cases involving chancery, commercial and property law as well as those involving human rights and public law. He retired as a Lord Justice of Appeal in 2015 following which he became both an arbitrator and a mediator and been engaged in the private resolution of complex disputes.