Under questioning from defence barrister Paul Comiskey O'Keeffe BL, Mr Lynn gave evidence of growing up on a farm in Co Mayo, his education in Trinity College, and his subsequent solicitor apprenticeship with a Dublin firm, where he said he started in the debt-collection department.
Mr Lynn said he worked for two law firms before joining Budget Travel as an in-house solicitor. In 1997, he set up his own practice working out of a house in Clonsilla, which he said he bought with a loan from his mother. Mr Lynn said the practice was run from the sitting room, dining room and kitchen of the house, and he lived upstairs.
The trial heard the practice moved to an office space in Blanchardstown and expanded over the coming years.
“In '97, '98, '99, things were just exploding,” Mr Lynn said. “It was a good time for someone starting their own business.”
‘A lot to manage’
He said that, in his first year, he opened 400 files: “It was a lot to manage,” he commented.
Mr Lynn said he hired several people, including Liz Doyle (his legal executive) who has given evidence at the trial. He said she was more experienced than he was in terms of “processes and file-running. In fairness she was very, very good,” he said.
When asked about the culture in his practice, Mr Lynn said he worked very hard and was “very driven. In fairness to anyone who worked for me, I would say I paid well, but, at the outset, I would explain I expected people to work hard.”
The court heard the practice continued to expand, with more solicitors employed in the firm. “We managed in about 18 months to bring a turnover of €1.5 million,” Mr Lynn said.
Several clients were property developers, and it was around this time that Mr Lynn's involvement in property development began, the trial heard.
He recalled being at meetings with people such as Albert Reynolds, who was chairman of one such client, Cunningham Property.
Mr Lynn said he learned about “all the facets of property development” at that time and that, as a “young solicitor”, it was a “great learning experience”.
Mr Lynn told the trial he would bring one of the solicitors from his firm to meetings with property-developer clients, because he “didn't have that level of experience”.
“I had good people around me,” he said.
First investment-property mortgage
Mr Lynn gave evidence of his first investment-property mortgage – a €130,000 loan for a home in Balbriggan, which he said he sold on four months later for €190,000.
“That's just the way it was at the time,” he said. “The market was literally moving upwards on a two-to-three-month basis.”
Mr Lynn described at length his overseas property dealings as part of his company, Kendar Holdings Ltd, which he said he named after two friends who had died.
The jury was told the company had about 15-20 employees in Ireland by September 2007, with developments in Portugal, Hungary and Bulgaria.
Multitude of developments
Mr Lynn said at one point he was advised by his bank to employ a qualified accountant for Kendar Holdings, as the company was growing so quickly.
“There was such a multitude of developments at that time, I couldn't have kept an eye on everything,” he told the trial. “It was impossible.”
He said that, by 2004, he was dividing his time 60:40 between Kendar and his practice, Michael Lynn & Co.
“In the last half of 2005 until October 2007, I wasn't involved day-to-day in the running of the practice at all,” he said. “I was constantly travelling.”
The trial continues before Judge Martin Nolan and a jury.