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Irish law ‘uniquely placed’ to meet US business needs
Solicitor and DLA Piper Ireland partner Gavin Smith gives an Ireland for Law presentation at DLA offices in Wilmington, Delaware

10 Jun 2024 / business Print

Irish law ‘uniquely placed’ to meet US needs

The fact that contracts made in Ireland are valid immediately across the EU, along with Ireland being English-speaking and using the common-law system, makes us an ideal location for business to acquire legal services, writes Dermot Ryan, Ireland for Law executive director.

That was the message given by an Ireland for Law mission to Delaware, Pennsylvania and Washington DC, recently.

Led by the President of the High Court Mr Justice David Barnville, the mission was also joined by Attorney General Rossa Fanning for part of the trip.

The Ireland for Law mission focused on telling the story of why Ireland is uniquely placed when it comes to providing legal services to the US legal fraternity and businesses.

It was also used as an opportunity to learn from other jurisdictions as to how they marketed themselves as a location for business.

Others on the delegation included:

  • Kelley Smith SC, the Bar of Ireland,
  • Law Society Director General Mark Garrett,
  • Dermot Ryan, executive director of Ireland for Law,
  • Catherine Dowling, partner at Byrne Wallace,
  • Kevin Gahan, partner at Matheson, and
  • Gavin Smith, partner at DLA Piper.

Law Society Director General Mark Garrett said: “This is an important initiative to both build awareness of the Ireland’s legal services, but also to understand how other countries and jurisdictions use the law as a driver of economic growth and employment.” 

The three-day mission kicked off with a meeting with Delaware Secretary of State Jeff Bullock, who spoke about the experience of the state of Delaware in attracting business, and how the government, court system, and legal professions worked together and positioned themselves to meet the needs of businesses.

Hosted by Chancellor

The Irish delegation was hosted by the Chancellor of the Delaware Court of Chancery Kathaleen McCormack and sat in for a period to witness a trial on insider training, giving a close-up view of the differences and similarities of the Irish and Delaware systems of justice. 

The chancellor also joined Mr Justice David Barnville at an event hosted by DLA Piper, which a significant turnout of Wilmington-based lawyers and business people attended, to hear about the career of Judge McCormack in a conversation moderated by Kelley Smith SC.

Other events included a panel discussion on corporate insolvency hosted by Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor in Wilmington, featuring Mr Justice Barnville, Kelley Smith SC, Matheson partner Kevin Gahan, and members of the Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor team Joe Barry and Kara Hammond Coyle.

Kevin Kent of Clark Hill hosted a networking event in Philadelphia, where the Attorney General Rossa Fanning and Mr Justice Barniville addressed members of the Philadelphia legal community and Irish American business association.

Life sciences

Catherine Dowling, partner at Byrne Wallace, was the main speaker at an event specifically to address the suitability of Irish law for the life-sciences sector. The event was hosted by ICON in Pennsylvania, a huge Irish success story. 

ICON was founded in Ireland in 1990 by two doctors, with a staff of five people.

Today, ICON is the largest contract-research organisation (CRO) in the world and is one of the key Irish business success stories of recent years. 

Paul McCracken, ICON VP, welcomed the delegation and gave a tour of the facility before Catherine Dowling, the attorney general and Mr Justice Barniville participated in a panel discussion moderated by Kelley Smith SC. 

The panel heard how Irish law and legal practitioners were an ideal partner for US-based companies and US lawyers working in life sciences.

The three-day schedule ended with a reception hosted by Ambassador of Ireland to the US Geraldine Byrne Nason, at her residence in Washington DC.


At the event, the ambassador gave her endorsement to the work of Ireland for Law to a gathering of the Washington DC legal community and several others working in government and industry.

Established by Ireland’s Minister for Justice in 2019, Ireland for Law (IFL) promotes Irish law and Irish legal services to the international business community, particularly for commercial sectors where Ireland is already a world leader.

These include aviation, finance, funds, insurance, tech, pharma, and life sciences. IFL is among a number of initiatives that form part of Ireland’s response to Brexit. 

Implementation group

IFL’s implementation group includes the Attorney General, the President of the High Court, representatives of the Bar of Ireland, the Law Society, the Departments of Justice, Finance, Foreign Affairs, and Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

IDA Ireland is also a key partner in the initiative. 

A core part of IFL’s work is undertaking trade missions, where a delegation of Irish legal practitioners travels to other jurisdictions in order to promote Ireland as a destination for legal services, network with practitioners and potential customers, and learn from other legal jurisdictions as to how they administer justice. 

Dermot Ryan
Dermot Ryan
Dermot Ryan is Ireland for Law executive director