Cork-based solicitor Barry MacCarthy has become the 153rd President of the Law Society of Ireland. Barry will serve a one-year term as president of the 24,000-strong Irish solicitors’ profession until November 2024. He is joined by senior vice-president Eamon Harrington and junior vice-president Martin Lawlor during his term in office.
Barry is a sole practitioner, practising as MacCarthy Solicitors in Charleville, Co Cork. He was educated in Charleville and studied law at UCC before qualifying as a solicitor in 1991.
Commenting on his new appointment, Barry said: “I am honoured to serve as President of the Law Society of Ireland and to lead the Irish solicitors’ profession for the next 12 months. I recognise the importance of strengthening access to justice in communities nationwide, and I am committed to serving the profession for my term as president.”
Wealth of experience
Barry brings a wealth of experience to his new role. He joined the Law Society’s Conveyancing Committee in 1997 and was elected to the Law Society’s Council in 2006. He served as the Law Society’s junior vice-president in 2020/21, and as senior vice-president during the past year.
In addition, he has chaired the Law Society’s Conveyancing Committee, Complaints and Client Relations Committee, and the Professional Indemnity Insurance Committee. He has also served on the Co-ordination Committee, Finance Committee, the Leadership and Council Effectiveness Review Steering Group, the Legal Services Regulation Board Task Force, and the Law Society’s Strategy Task Force.
Vision for the future
Speaking about his vision for the future and the role of the solicitors’ profession in Irish society, he said: “There is no doubt that the solicitors’ profession is thriving as demand for legal services grow, especially in emerging areas like intellectual property, aviation law, mediation, and arbitration. That said, this is not the case for all solicitors and all parts of the country.
“As a sole practitioner, I recognise that smaller community-based legal practices are facing challenges, and the availability of legal services in many communities is at risk. The legal profession, like many others, is heavily concentrated in major urban centres and Dublin in particular, despite coming from all counties.
“I believe that the Law Society has a pivotal role in ensuring that legal practice in Ireland is at the highest level and supported in every community in the country,” he stated.
The heart of the profession
“Justice and law reform have always been at the heart of the Law Society and the solicitors’ profession,” he said. ”This is the reason why most solicitors joined the profession in the first place. During this year, we will put even greater emphasis on highlighting areas where the law and legal system in Ireland needs reform in the public interest.”
The new president is adamant that the Law Society has “a leading role” to play in advocating for justice and law reform in order to help build a fair and just legal system that works for all: “That is the foundation for a thriving, modern and progressive Irish society,” he said.
“I look forward to taking significant steps in that direction during the next 12 months.”
Law Society’s new strategy
Commenting on the Law Society’s new strategic direction for the next five years, Barry said: “We have spent the past year holding consultations with key stakeholders to help inform our future strategy. There is every cause for optimism about the future of legal services, but we have a clear view on the challenges as well.
“As we look ahead, we are focused on shaping a vibrant and relevant Law Society that works with others to adapt to meet the evolving needs of the economy and society. Collaboration is, and will remain, key to ensuring access to justice for all,” he concluded.