McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

Can Law bring in the corn for Ireland?

I was in a meeting in Manchester last week when the name of a mutual acquaintance came into a conversation with a client. I had not seen this gentleman for a while and was told that he was spending much of his time in Dublin setting up an Irish office for a large regional law practice. Having done the same 18 months earlier it occurred to me that I was clearly part of a bigger trend. (so much for being unique I guess!).

It's clear that, on closer inspection, there are a good number of "English" law firms going into Ireland. To enter a market that is apparently on it's knees seems to be strange. The clear signal must be that Ireland is far from being seen as a basket case and that English law firms think that there is good business to be done in Dublin. It may be that some see an opportunity in some of the more regrettable aspects that exist in Ireland: advising on personal and corporate bankruptcies, regulatory work as a result of bank failures etc. But this isn't the whole story.

It is clear that there are also other reasons why law firms may be setting up in Ireland generally and Dublin in particular. To start to see the advantages you have to start with the advantages that English Law firms in England have. London is the financial capital of the world and the playground of the world's wealthy. It has (in world terms) a reliable and tried and tested legal system. This means that in international trade terms it is the jurisdiction of choice. What this means is that many companies trading internationally, actually want their contracts to be governed by the laws of England (and Wales of Course!).

So what? Well Ireland shares the roots of it's common law jurisdiction with England (no need to stray into the history at this point-I've a limited number of words to use!): It's not too much of a simplification to say that the Law is effectively the same. It has a highly skilled workforce in particular in legal services. The workforce speaks English . Ireland has a favourable taxation regime of course and there is a thriving international tech sector.

It occurs to me that Ireland is well placed to be an outsourced provider of legal services from the English market. All the ingredients exist. At a recent Enterprise Ireland event I was educated to another unique factor. The speaker talked of "Meitheal". In rural Ireland , a 'meitheal' was a band of reapers or a working party. Neighbours would gather together to support one another and work collectively to bring in crops. It is said that this type of cooperation has been a huge benefit to the tech sector. This cooperation is something I have witnessed myself in Dublin. People have been genuinely helpful in opening doors and making contacts etc. It would seem somehow fitting if this old Irish concept could be the final ingredient that creates a thriving "English" legal sector in Dublin and provides jobs for young people in Ireland.

Now where's the dictionary, I want to look up the definition of "Irony" again.

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