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Trans-national issues trending upwards in family law
Solicitors Geraldine Keehan and Geoffrey Shannon Pix: Elyse Clarke

11 Apr 2019 / corporate law Print

Trans-national issues trending up in family law

There was a large turnout for the launch at Smock Alley in Dublin last night of Caldwell & Robinson Solicitors as the first all-Ireland family law firm.

The mid-sized Derry firm has existed since 1910 – “long before there was a border” – managing partner Philip Gilliland told Gazette.ie.

“Derry is the regional town for north-west Ulster and we’ve always serviced all of those clients, since 1910, which makes us the most integrated all-Ireland law firm in existence, even before we opened this Dublin office.”

Just under 50% of the firm’s revenues are from the Republic – even prior to the March opening of the fully-staffed Dublin office at The Capel Building in Dublin 7.

The firm already has a significant practice in the South in domestic and international private family law and child law, through partner Karen O’Leary.

It also operates an all-Ireland corporate and commercial law practice.

The increase in east-west and north-south migration, combined with increasing political instability, feeds a growing demand for this type of trans-national legal service, he said.

Caldwell & Robinson has now recruited eminent family lawyer Geraldine Keehan (pictured) to head up its new Dublin office.


Geraldine joins distinguished family law practitioner Karen O’Leary in the practice. Both lawyers are tri-qualified in England and Wales, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland.

The pair specialises in private and public family and child law in Ireland and in cross-border jurisdiction cases.

Caherciveen-born Karen is a daughter of respected Kerry vet Frank O’Leary.

She is a member of the International Academy of Family Lawyers [IAFL] and a regular speaker on family law matters.

During her speech, O’Leary said that cross-jurisdictional elements are featuring increasingly in relationship breakdowns.

Jurisdictional issues

Brexit brings increased focus on the challenges of jurisdictional issues in family law, she said.

O’Leary has practised in London and Brussels, and now divides her work, half and half, between the North and South.

Geraldine Keehan advises on the application of international law, particularly in relation to the movement of children between jurisdictions.


Cross-border cases are invariably complex, Geraldine told the gathering, and they will become ever more so in the event of Brexit, but the focus will remain on delivering a top-class service to clients, she said.

Her work on the rights of children, including their right to identity, has seen her advise a number of organisations on existing and pending legislation. She also advises clients on divorce, co-habitation, civil partnership and surrogacy.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland