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GC Powerlist > GC Powerlist: Ireland
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For 28 years, The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world. The GC Powerlist (formerly the Corporate Counsel 100) is the latest publication from The Legal 500, turning its attention to the in-house function, and recognising those corporate counsel who are driving the legal business forward. The latest edition is the GC Powerlist: Ireland, which identifies an array of the most influential and innovative in-house counsel working in the region ...read more
The GC Powerlist is a series of publications, highlighting the most influential in-house lawyers in business today.
We have canvassed opinions from law firm partners and in-house counsel across Ireland, to identify corporate counsel that have been instrumental in changing or forming opinions within their company or industry; developing brilliant technical solutions to complex issues; creating innovative structures to ensure that the in-house function is driving the business forward; or providing a business working model that other corporate counsel should follow. Our team of experienced researchers assessed the nominations, speaking both to general counsel and nominating lawyers to finalise each jurisdictional list. GC Powerlist: Ireland features not just information on why that individual has made the list, but also comment from the law firms about how they feel individual corporate counsel have helped shape innovation in the legal industry.
If you have feedback on the GC Powerlist: Ireland, or wish to nominate other in-house individuals (either in Ireland or global), please do get in touch at email@example.com.
We hope that this listing will stimulate debate around the role of the in-house lawyer and help corporate counsel with possible improvements and efficiencies in running their departments.
|David Burgess||Julia Ross||Jamie Rayat, Sara Mageit|
|Publishing Director||Senior Researcher||Researchers|
GC Powerlist: Ireland
(listed in alphabetical order; click on an individual to view an expanded biography)
Senior Legal Counsel
Hewlett Packard International Bank plc
Director / Deputy Head Legal Department
Head of Legal - Europe and LatAM
Senior Vice-President - Legal
Project Management Group
Director of Legal Services - Local Country Compliance
Group Counsel & Legal Director
Websense International Technology
General Counsel - Northern, Central & Eastern Europe
Regional Counsel - Ireland, Demand
Head of Data Protection and Privacy
General Counsel, EVP & Company Secretary
Head of Legal
Bord na Móna
Head of Legal & Compliance
New Ireland Assurance Company
Group Head of Legal
Electricity Supply Board
Head of Legal & Regulatory Affairs
Commission for Communications Regulation
Senior legal counsel
Invention Investment Ireland
EMEA Regional Counsel
Head of Legal & Compliance (Dublin)
Group General Counsel
AIB Corporate Banking
International Legal Counsel & Company Secretary
General Legal Counsel - Ireland
General Counsel - Ireland
Chief Legal Officer
SMBC Aviation Capital
Head of Legal
Head of Legal, Data Privacy and Compliance Officer, Ireland
EMEA Regional Lead - Legal
Head of Business & Legal Affairs
Head of Legal Services
Head of Legal
Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Limited
Legal Director Ireland
Head of Legal - Litigation, Legal Risk & Legal Policy
EMEA legal counsel
Vice President, Legal & Associate General Counsel
Dairygold Co-Operative Society
Head of Legal & Company Secretary
General Counsel - Ireland
Editorial Legal Counsel
News UK & Ireland
General Counsel Ireland & Company Secretary
The Commission for Aviation Regulation
Aon Insurance Managers
Head of Regulatory
Hutchison 3G Ireland Limited
Group Company Secretary
C&C Group plc (C&C)
Head of Legal
General Counsel Ireland & Expansion Markets, Legal Director, EMEA
Head of Legal Affairs
Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland
Antoine Mac Donncha
Head of Legal Unit
Department of Finance
Head of Legal Services
Gas Networks Ireland
General Counsel & Company Secretary
Mainstay Medical Limited
Group General Counsel
Legal Director EMEA & Company Secretary
Dell Financial Services
Head of Legal
Vice President and Chief Counsel - EMEA
Hewlett-Packard International Bank
Head of Legal for Operations and B2B
Galetech Energy Developments Ltd
Vice President - Head of Legal (Ireland)
State Street International (Ireland)
Head of Legal and Compliance
Head of Legal and Corporate Services
Regulatory and Competition Counsel
Executive director and general counsel
Brandon Point Industries
Amentum Capital Limited
Head of Legal - Online
Chief Legal Officer
National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA)
Vice President and Associate General Counsel - Head of Legal for Western & Central Europe
Associate general counsel, commercial
Head of Legal
National Asset Management Agency (NAMA)
Head of legal
Group Head of Legal & Secretariat
Dublin Airport Authority
Head of Legal Services
Health Information and Quality Authority
Head of Corporates & Institutions Legal Ireland
Danske Bank Corporates & Institutions
Chief IP Counsel, EMEA
General Counsel Europe & Ireland Country Counsel
Citibank Europe plc
General Counsel & Company Secretary
Central Bank of Ireland
Head of Legal & Regulation
Bord Gais Energy
Group Legal Services Head
Bank of Ireland
Head of Legal Ireland
BNP Paribas Ireland
EVP, General Counsel & MD
Intrepid Aviation Management, LLC
Legal Director, Ireland
Group General Counsel and Company Secretary
General Counsel - Ireland
Group Chief Legal Officer
Head of Legal & Compliance
‘The biggest challenge we face, and continue to face, is the speed with which the industry is changing’, Margaret Ahearn says. ‘Financial solutions fit for today may be archaic next year or even in six months’ time! As such, we as lawyers must be comfortable to live in a constant state of change and must be open, flexible and innovative in the solutions we provide to our internal clients’. Covering a significant proportion of Hewlett Packard’s EMEA operations and leading global accounts’ legal support, Ahearn ‘thinks outside the box’. Her contribution has been felt both inside and outside the bank, and she is increasingly engaged in industry debate over best practice and legislative change. With her wide international remit, Ahearn has handled significant strategic transactions and played a central role in HPFS’s regional growth. For Ahearn, winning the trust of the business has been a personal professional highlight. This was illustrated when she was shortlisted for the bank’s Winner’s Circle list, recognising exceptional performance across the business. ‘Change is a constant within the HPFS legal department’, Ahearn says. She has made it a focus to constantly update and optimise processes, and has led several training sessions for internal clients, empowering them to take greater ownership in routine matters. ‘This has allowed me to free up time so I can concentrate on more strategic matters’, she explains. When it comes to outside counsel, she values ‘reponsiveness’ to reflect the speed of the business she supports. Ahearn obtained first class honours in the Irish Management Institute’s Leadership diploma in 2014. She began her career in private practice, spending 10 years at Hanahoe & Hanahoe and reaching associate level, before joining HPFS in 2009.
With almost 25 years’ in-house experience, Caroline Bergin has been involved in some of the nation’s most significant infrastructure transactions. Over four years in her previous role as NTR’s general counsel, she supported the company through its gradual dissolution in the wake of the financial crisis; leading its $200m waste sale and the shutting down of its US solar business. Appointed GC of former NTR subsidiary, Greenstar, in 2015, she is building up a comprehensive legal function from scratch. During her 19 year tenure at leading convenience food supplier Greencore, Bergin led several significant cross-border transactions, including its €360 refinancing and the disposal of its malting business in Ireland, Belgium and the UK. ‘In my opinion, my greatest achievement is to have been sought out by the board and senior management as a problem solver’, she says. ‘I have always loved my job and as was once said to me – “if you love your job you will never work a day in your life”’. The 2008 crash, she feels, has had a positive effect on many law firms’ approaches to billing and communication. ‘It might have taken a recesssion to hone them properly but I have found them vastly improved’.
As GC to Ireland’s leading life and pensions’ company and Irish Law Times’ editor for 15 years, David Boyle is a respected and high profile figure in the national legal market. His published work at the legal periodical has covered a broad spectrum of issues, including insurance regulation, data protection and ethics, within an in-house context. Formerly Canada Life’s Ireland GC, Boyle supported the company’s billion-dollar acquisition of Irish Life from the national government, and its subsequent rebrand. Sources point to Boyle’s exemplary industry understanding, and his ability to communicate effectively, and break things down into fundamental commercial issues.
His ability to protect the client and work through all the different issues is very impressive and a rare quality these days’, says one private practice admirer. ‘We have been involved in a number of transactions over the years with different in-house lawyers, and without doubt Michael outstrips them all’. With impressive international experience, Michael Byrne is praised time and again for his work ethic, people skills and commercial instincts. ‘He’s not a lawyer’s lawyer’, says another law firm. ‘He is driven by the commercial reality; he is someone who sees an issue and goes to solve it’. Joining Depfa the year before the 2008 crash, Byrne has supported the German-Irish bank through the most difficult period in history. ‘Managing, protecting and restructuring large scale assets post-bailout and trying to stay positive while the bank is in run-off has been a challenge but also a privilege’, he says. ‘It has required an understanding of the interests of a business comprising 20 to 40,000 employees worldwide; it’s a massive task, requiring good integration. I’d had no exposure to board before, and in Dublin, I am very much involved with board-level decisions’. During his time at the bank, Byrne has been involved in some of Europe’s biggest country bailouts in the wake of the financial crisis, including Italy, Iceland, Portugal, Malta and Greece. He has most recently drawn focus for his management of Depfa’s successful litigation against UBS in 2014. ‘Often in litigation you need things quickly – he was always tireless in getting things done’, one source says on his handling of the case. ‘He is not particularly interested in self-promotion, he’s not interested in the politics; he just does what he needs to’. Byrne previously specialised in emerging markets in Raiffeisen Bank’s Vienna office, where he also took a significant role in internal training across the wider business.
As Pioneer Investments’ European and Latin American legal head, Irish Barrister and New York qualified Attorney, Colm Callaly has shown diligence and talent in a variety of areas, alongside a deep understanding of the asset management industry. Since joining Pioneer in 1999 from Columbia Threadneedle Investments, he has undertaken a number of senior management roles, including head of legal and compliance, chief administrative officer, International and finally taking on his current regional legal focus in 2013. Callaly has shown his international adaptability throughout his career; as legal advisor at COPEX in Germany, he contended with a diverse caseload involving large-scale global financial solutions and wealth management. His 25 years of financial services experience have also seen him work as senior legal manager at Columbia Threadneedle Investments, where he played a key role in the world-leading asset manager’s European operations.
During her ten-year tenure at Aircastle, where she is SVP-legal, company director Sarah Clarkin has been instrumental in the company’s exponential growth to manage total assets of $6.1bn with a 162-strong aircraft portfolio (as at 31 December 2015), operating across 32 countries. In 2013 she played a key role in Marubeni Corp’s acquisition of a 15.25% interest in the business. Prior to joining Aircastle, Clarkin was an associate at McCann FitzGerald. During her legal studies she was awarded the Law Society’s Overend Scholarship and the Patrick O'Connor Memorial Prize.
Construction specialist Caoive Collins, Project Management Group’s general counsel, prides himself on being a facilitator to capital project delivery. PM Group is currently operating across 35 countries worldwide, spanning a variety of sectors, including pharmaceuticals, food, and advanced manufacturing. Collins holds a BA in Law from Trinity College, Dublin.
Throughout over a decade at Accenture, Brian Connolly has taken on a variety of managerial roles and led the Irish legal function through a period of substantial growth in the jurisdiction. As well as increasing its Irish legal function from one to eight members, he has worked specialist divisions into the team and implemented wide structural changes. Connolly feels adapting his approach to the global giant’s local and international needs has been a crucial component to his effectiveness. Gaining status as a ‘trusted advisor’ to the business, he says, has been among the greatest achievements of his in-house career to date. When it comes to outside counsel, he suggests tailoring advice to needs of ‘real-life business’ would greatly improve the service provided by many firms.
As acting global general counsel, Marlene Connolly played a pivotal role in Websense’s billion-dollar merger with Raytheon Cyber Products completed in 2015. Connolly previously established the cyber defence leader’s Irish legal team, which now works alongside its US counterpart. The core of her success, Connolly maintains, always comes down to people. ‘Recruiting the right talent is key’, she says. ‘And to me, the team "fit" and individual positive attitude is more important than any knowledge or experience gaps that might exist and can be bridged’. Throughout her time as general counsel, Connolly has promoted integration, training and knowledge-sharing, not only within different pockets of legal, but across the business as a whole. As a lean function supporting 1,500 employees across over 45 countries, this approach is pivotal to its effectiveness. ‘Uniting two geographically dispersed and culturally diverse legal teams is sometimes a challenge’, Connolly says. Her “cross-pollinisation” program ensures members of the Ireland and US teams take it in turns to spend a week in the other office and see different ways of doing things. She has also implemented comprehensive training for the company’s global sales force. ‘I believe it’s key to empower the salesforce with an awareness of legal issues so that they can get their deals done quickly, smoothly and cleanly’, she says. On the flipside, she has worked to build up an understanding of what legal can do to be more accessible to the internal client. In a broader effort to improve cross-functional communication, she also established and currently chairs the International Structures Group (ISG), including US and international representation across finance, HR, tax and legal. ‘Almost any project we undertake – like establishing a new entity in a country – cuts across all of these departments’, she explains. ‘Unless the left hand knows what the right hand is doing and in what priority, things can get unstuck’. When it comes to external counsel, Connolly values pragmatism and an understanding of the client’s business, and believes in building long-term relationships with the right firms. ‘If and when something unexpected turns up – litigation or time-sensitive M&A activity – you know that that firm "has your back" and will "go the extra mile"’. At the same time, she stresses that it is a two-way relationship. ‘We pay our external legal invoices very promptly and rarely query them and our professional respect for our external firms has been reciprocated in the service received’.
‘Forward-thinking’ and ‘a goal-oriented team player’, Nikki Conran has impressed private practice lawyers and in-house colleagues alike throughout a three-decade in-house career. With past senior roles at the likes of Microsoft and EDF, she joined Schneider Energy almost eight years ago, becoming regional legal head in 2013. The global energy management leader continues to invest heavily in Europe, and Conran plays a vital role in its ongoing success, according to sources. Heading support across Northern, Central and Eastern Europe, she has featured in some of the biggest transactions in the company’s recent history. Widely respected for her technical understanding, management and communication skills, she is actively firmly embedded in strategic decision-making and is also praised for her contribution to corporate governance.
As Diageo’s regional counsel, Becky Crawley’s role extends far beyond the purely legal. Crawley prides herself on her strategic business planning and in 2014 was a finalist of the Diageo WE President's Club’s roll-call of top performers in “helping to sell”. Her proactive work ethic has seen her deliver training on various legal and compliance issues including competition, data privacy, AML, marketing and more. Crawley utilises her entrepreneurial drive and knowledge to mentor her colleagues, participate in business-in-the-community programmes, and lead seminars and workshops to start-up businesses. Her personable and altruistic character have not gone unnoticed by peers, with one source describing Crawley’s people and communication skills as ‘second to none’. Crawley has been highly praised by colleagues past and present, with one source describing her as ‘a consummate professional’ going on to say ‘She has great perception and dedication in all that she does. Her legal knowledge and ability to research is outstanding and she never fails to deliver satisfaction’. Crawley’s expertise also include anti-money laundering and crisis management. She is quadrilingual; fluent in English, French, German and Spanish.
In just two years, Cian Crosbie has established comprehensive legal, compliance and company secretarial functions for Valentia’s global business. Heading a large cross-functional team he is involved at all stages of transactions, and takes a deep involvement in strategic decision-making. ‘As a niche organisation operating in international markets against larger and better resourced competitors, Valentia Technologies has consistently “punched above its weight”’, he says. ‘Each of our contract wins have represented significant highlights for both the wider team here and myself’. Market sources praise Crosbie for the passion he brings to the role, and his effective balancing of legal and business concerns. ‘I love being part of a team that makes something, delivers it and then supports it’, Crosbie says, adding: ‘It helps that I believe in the work that Valentia Technologies does’. His experience with outside counsel has been very positive, he says, but an understanding of clients’ business can be an area for improvement. ‘It is essential that any advice we get is provided in the context of our specific business needs so that the advice is as practical and sensible in the circumstances as it might be’.
Market-leading contract research organisation ICON operates across the pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device industries. A well-known figure in Irish legal circles, sources particularly highlight Diarmaid Cunningham’s role in developing a unified and sophisticated global function. ‘We are constantly looking to progress and develop as the CRO partner of choice in drug development’, Cunningham says. ‘Our partner of choice vision and the complex nature of our industry means that ICON Legal must provide business-focused and proactive solutions and advice to our internal customers’. Cunningham became ICON’s general counsel and company in 2009, after practising at *[A&L Goodbody 10011] for over a decade. At the root of the team’s success, in Cunningham’s view, is the quality of the people recruited during the course of its growth. ‘The ICON legal team is made up of talented and dynamic lawyers who operate to blue-chip standards in our dynamic and challenging industry’. The now 28-strong function is split across Dublin, the US, Holland, Argentina and China. In response to its growing US footprint, Cunningham was seconded over to Pennsylvania, ICON’s US base in 2013, in order to build his knowledge of the US business, and is set to return to Ireland in 2017. His role as general counsel, he says, has been largely unchanged by the move: ‘I am doing the same job in a different location’.
As head of legal at Bord na Móna, Ireland's leading environmentally-responsible integrated utility service provider, Anna-Marie Curry leads a team of lawyers providing national and international legal support. On a day-to-day basis, Curry contends with a variety of issues spanning environment and energy policy. She has been actively involved in Bord na Móna’s plans to build a pilot solar energy farm in Offaly. With the company said to be in talks to deliver a new wind farm every year for the next seven years, the breadth of her remit looks set to grow. Curry has also made a substantial contribution to talks with potential buyers for AES, the waste collection service purchased by Bord na Móna in 2007. Formerly an associate at Arthur Cox, Curry specialised in M&A and regulatory issues.
A qualified barrister, Paul Dalton heads all legal and compliance support at New Ireland Assurance Company; Ireland’s first wholly-owned life assurance business, with €15bn worth of funds currently under management. His expertise in finance and banking have seen him take on prestigious roles at leading international institutions. In his previous role as Bank of Ireland’s group legal counsel and a business partner, he contended with diverse tasks covering private banking, investments, custody and insurance. He also spent five years at HSBC Ireland as head of life, general and reinsurance.
Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board has handled multiple significant strategic transactions during the four years Alan Daly has headed its legal function. These have included Carrington Power’s 2012 award-winning refinancing. The utility’s treasury was also recognised for its risk management and refinancing work in Risk Magazine’s 2015 Corporate Treasury of the Year Award. ‘I am very proud of the work that our legal team does at ESB, and proud to lead the team, which I believe is unmatched in Ireland’, Daly says. ‘The ESB in-house legal team plays a significant role on an ongoing basis in ESB’s many achievements’. Heading a 52-strong team, Daly is credited with revolutionising the utility’s internal function, enhancing its brand and promoting stronger links with the business. Shortly after his 2011 arrival, Daly instigated and conducted a wide-reaching review and restructure of the department. His changes included introducing core specialisms into the team and promoting greater knowledge-sharing across the organisation. The overall result, Daly argues, has been to reposition the function from ‘service provider’ to ‘trusted advisor’.
Irish financial services specialist FEXCO handles some of the most sophisticated transactions emanating from the local market, spanning Europe, Asia Pacific, the US and the Middle East. ‘An exemplary in-house lawyer’, Eleanor Daly has ‘first-class technical acumen’, ‘deep commercial understanding of FEXCO's business’, ‘willingness to take measured risks’ and a superior understanding of cross-border transactions. ‘I have been very impressed by Eleanor’, says one lawyer. ‘She is commercially very astute, has excellent attention to detail and is very pleasant and fair to deal with’. Managing a sizeable share of work in house, Daly leads a highly skilled in-house team, and is credited with significantly reducing the business’s legal spend. She herself counts her role in purchasing listed Japanese property management company NIPPON KANZAI Co as a personal highlight. This transaction became the first winner of the Irish Legal Awards’ International Transaction of the Year, managed by an in-house legal department. ‘The award gave recognition and validation to the work of the department both internally and within the broader legal community in Ireland’, Daly says. ‘There are few other sources for that type of “good news story” for an in-house legal function, so the award was particularly special’. Daly has worked in FEXCO’s function since 2004 and became GC in 2011. Appointed to statutory advisory body, Company Law Review Group, in 2014, Daly is prominent within Ireland’s Law Society and co-authored The Irish Company Secretary’s Handbook, published in 2011. ‘I believe very strongly that in-house lawyers need to make themselves heard within the larger legal community’, Daly says. ‘It is important to use all the available opportunities to engage and network with other lawyers from outside your organisation to keep in touch with developments in law and also within the profession’. During her time as FEXCO’s GC, Daly has made sizeable changes to the function and has championed individual development and further study. ‘I am constantly looking to innovate the processes which the legal department is engaged in to improve efficiencies and to empower our commercial colleagues’, she says. ‘Furthermore, I am absolutely committed to department staff’s ongoing education (both qualified and support staff) to ensure they are developing their own professional skills and contributing at the highest level possible’. When it comes to outside counsel, Daly feels ‘collaboration’ is key. ‘Our most successful engagements with outside counsel occur when outside counsel is willing to recognise that they need to work “hand in glove” with FEXCO Group’s lawyers’.
Marie Daly, IBEC’s legal and regulatory head affairs, helped shape one of the most significant recent laws affecting Ireland’s business community. As a member of the Company Law Review Group, she helped draft the Companies Act 2014, merging the 17 preceding Acts from 1963 to 2013. Focusing primarily on limited private companies, the Act’s reforms aim to reduce red tape and make it easier to run a business in Ireland. Where it previously focused on larger companies, Daly took a guiding role in ensuring the new Act focused on regulating smaller businesses. Beginning her career in 1991, Daly has earned a sterling reputation amongst Ireland’s in-house legal community. Through initiatives like the High Level Group on Business Regulation, she has helped spearhead a pivotal integration between both the legal and business realms. Her expertise includes competition law, corporate governance and intellectual property.
During a short tenure as PwC’s Ireland GC and leadership team member, Elizabeth Davis has already been instrumental to the management of a variety of commercial and risk issues. With a career spanning over 15 years, she is highly experienced in litigation, regulation and corporate law. Prior to joining PwC, she spent over 10 years at global talent, health and retirement consulting leader, Mercer. As its chief legal counsel for Europe, her international adaptability saw her advising a multi-jurisdictional leadership team on all legal, regulatory and risk issues in the continent. Davis holds a BA in Law and Spanish from the University of Limerick and a Masters in European Law from University College Dublin. She was called to the Irish Bar in 1998.
During her five-year tenure as general counsel for the Commission for Communications Regulation (ComReg), Caroline Dee-Brown has been a key decision maker in the newly founded company. ComReg is divided into a number of core divisions, with a structure based on cross-functional teams operating in a multi-disciplinary environment. Though this merging of roles means her remit stretches far beyond the purely legal, Dee-Brown has been able to fulfil all of this and more. US-, UK- and Ireland-qualified, she began her career in private practice, and reached senior associate-level at A&L Goodbody, before making the move in house.
Senior legal counsel at Horizon Pharma since May 2015, Anne-Marie Dempsey is praised highly for her superior understanding of the pharmaceutical industry. Formerly Shire Pharma’s pioneer lawyer outside the UK and US, Anne-Marie Dempsey had a big task ahead of her when she joined the global business in 2007. ‘Starting and developing the legal function in Ireland has been an exciting process’, Dempsey said, prior to the move. ‘In 2007 we had two Shire Irish companies; now we have 25 companies and branches. I was responsible for the set up and administration of each of these companies, working cross-functionally and on multi-jurisdictional teams as required’. During her time heading legal and company secretarial support for Shire’s global HQ, Dempsey played a pivotal role in the company’s rapid international expansion. ‘Being geographically separated from clients and indeed legal colleagues can often mean the volume and variety of work going through Ireland is not necessarily apparent elsewhere’, she said. ‘This does not affect business or patients, but is simply a personal challenge in managing my own priorities’. Her experience of working with outside counsel, nationally, has been largely positive. ‘I believe the top law firms in Ireland are excellent, the only very small thing I can think of is that sometimes they tend to retain documentation after a major transaction and need a reminder to send all paperwork back to us after the main event!’
New York-licensed Irish lawyer Gavin Denn, currently general counsel of Invention Investment Ireland, is known for his extensive international IP expertise. After over 15 years working in-house experience, he is well acquainted with complex, high-value transactions. During his time in the exciting world of invention, he has facilitated partnerships with pioneering companies and helped further the development of new ideas and patent portfolios. Denn’s previous roles include GC at digital software provider Valista and global software business Synopsys’s European GC.
Chairing the new American Chamber of Commerce Ireland’s general counsel forum, David Dobbyn is respected across Ireland’s in-house legal community for his ‘progressive’ and ‘dynamic’ approach. Global technology business Xilinx is one of a number of a growing number of US companies which has moved into Ireland’s growing ‘silicon valley’ community. Heading all legal support across the whole of Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India, Dobbyn is a member of Xilinx’s Dublin management team. He takes a central role in business decisions, and has been praised for his role in developing and codifying processes during his time in the role. Dobbyn practised at A&L Goodbody for over ten years, reaching to senior associate level before his move in house. During this period, he completed secondments at Dell Norkom Technologies and Meteor Mobile Communications.
Barclays Insurance’s legal and compliance head, PCF-approved Laura Doherty wears several hats at once, as the company’s money laundering reporting officer, company secretary and data protection officer. Her wide remit gives her significant influence over the institution’s procedures and conduct. With impressive experience spanning private practice and multinational insurers, Doherty has, in her words, ‘gained considerable exposure to legal practice, financial services, corporate governance, risk and compliance, at a pan-European level’. She has been described as an excellent communicator who works closely with senior management teams and committees on policy development. During her time at Aviva Europe she devised the governance programme for its Claims Centre of Excellence and assessed compliance and regulation across all its European claims markets.
A seasoned in-house lawyer, Helen stands apart from her peers in her capacity to build exceptional in-house functions, according to sources. Managing around 150 lawyers at the Ireland Big Four institution, AIB, Dooley is credited with the design and implementation of its high-power legal offering. She takes a lead role AIB’s strategic planning and decision-making. In her former role as founding legal head of EBS, the nation’s largest building society, Dooley established its full-service team from scratch. A city-qualified lawyer, she has also practised in Hong Kong, working across corporate banking and insolvency.
The highly praised Orla Dunlea, Endo Pharmaceuticals’ international legal counsel and company secretary, has impressed peers and clients alike with her navigation of major global deals. With a legal career spanning over 15 years, Dunlea boasts a plethora of experience across leading firms in Ireland, New Zealand and Australia. On her ability to apply herself within different jurisdictions, one former colleague remarks that she is ‘a highly capable, professional and no-nonsense legal counsel. Her litigation and European corporate experience have been invaluable’. She is also consistently praised by her contemporaries for her rounded business acumen. ‘A particularly strong feature is her ability to understand the commercial implications of her advice in the business which she provides support’, another source says. ‘As a result she is an excellent commercial lawyer, and able to deliver value outside a strictly technical legal role’. Prior to joining Endo Pharmaceuticals, Dunlea was an insurance litigator with RSA insurance group and Aviva, where she handled a variety of transactional, company secretarial and other issues.
During her time at the iconic Mexican brand, Clare Egan has supported CEMEX through its delisting and the sale of large components of the business across several jurisdictions. Her fitness to the task, for some, rests in her ability take a holistic approach to multi-layered issues. ‘She’s absolutely standout’, one in-house source says. ‘She essentially cuts through the subject matter and sees the issues very, very fast’. ‘The legal department has expanded and contracted over the course of my six year tenure’, Egan says. ‘During this time we have tried to significantly reduce external legal spend and expand the level of work done internally’. Managing a team through this downsizing period, Egan concedes, was not an easy task, and required ‘a large degree of tact and diplomacy’. Law firms, she feels, need to communicate better over fees. ‘In overall terms, I believe in-house counsel would benefit from a greater degree of transparency in terms of fee estimates with an increase in the use of agreed maximum fees on certain transactions’.
With broad private practice experience gained in the City, followed by over ten years in-house in Ireland’s increasingly regulated financial services sector, John Elliott has a well-rounded and practised background in international financial services. He moved in house after eight years at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, and since then has deepened his expertise in financial services regulation, in particular in mutual funds, life insurance, anti-money laundering and data protection. After stints proving his worth as the first in-house counsel at the Irish operations of Investors Bank & Trust, Maples FS and Generali International (with responsibilities across a network of global offices at each firm), Elliott was appointed general counsel of the Irish arm of financial services provider SEI in February 2015. His role at SEI covers SEI’s Irish mutual funds (including a UCITS management company/ AIFM) and entities providing fund administration and depositary services, reflecting the breadth of SEI’s Irish business which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary in Dublin. With offices across Asia, Europe and the Americas, SEI manages or administers approximately $638bn in assets worldwide.
As an executive director of Dublin-based aircraft leasing giant SMBC Aviation Capital, Catharine Ennis supported one of the largest deals in Irish corporate history. This occurred in 2012 when Japan's second largest bank, Sumitomo Mitsui, purchased the company from RBS for over $7.3bn. In 2015 the company posted a record operating profits, signalling Ennis remains at the legal helm of a steady ship, despite this change of ownership. A national success story, SMBC shows true faith in Ennis, who is a central business decision maker, both as global legal head and executive director.
A unique mobile top-up concept, home-grown start-up ding* (formerly ezetop) has taken off globally in a short space of time. Its founder Mark Roden was named EY’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014. The product, which allows people to send others credit, gained prominence following Haiti’s 2010 earthquake, when it enabled many to keep contact with relatives trapped in its aftermath. Given the ground-breaking nature of the product, legal head Sylvia Fagan routinely faces first-of-kind issues, and has supported the business during a period of rapid global growth. Her recent highlights have including supporting ding*’s landmark entry into the Cuban market, with the purchase of Recargas a Cuba. She has also been praised for her work on data centre infrastructure contracts and successfully led negotiations over governmental sanctions.
A US-qualified lawyer, Denise Farnsworth has exceptional industry experience, following a decade and a half at technology giant, Microsoft, and six years in Apple’s legal department. Arriving at Microsoft in 2000, Denise first joined the company as a paralegal; she went on to take charge of various US and worldwide legal functions before being named Ireland’s head of legal, data privacy and compliance officer in 2012. With Ireland holding a significant place in Microsoft’s global operations, Farnsworth’s responsibilities stretch far beyond the domestic market. She also oversees the business’ European Development Centre, Data Centre and the Operations Centre for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Farnsworth has worked closely with the business in dealings with government bodies across multiple jurisdictions. Outside the legal realm she is also Microsoft Ireland’s cultural diversity lead and a regular guest lecturer and speaker on a variety of issues, emphasising the impact she has on both the company and a wider in-house legal community. She also uses her reputation to make active contributions to discourse through positions on industry groups, including: the Society for Computers and Law’s Irish chapter; the Ireland Chamber of Commerce General Counsel Forum and the Data Working Group of Ireland’s Department of the Taoiseach.
As regional legal head and part of LinkedIn’s EMEA leadership team, Natalia Faura is valued by colleagues and outside counsel for her energy, pragmatism and commitment. ‘Being an entrepreneurial and innovative company that moves fast, it’s essential that our legal team is collaborative, solutions-driven and takes a business-minded approach to risk taking’, she says. ‘Taking intelligent risks is one of our core values and key in continuing to drive innovation in a company that wants to remain entrepreneurial even as it matures into an 8,000-employee global player’. The world’s largest professional network, LinkedIn, in Faura’s words, is ‘in hyper growth’. With 116 million members in EMEA and over 364 million worldwide, the company’ highly regarded regional legal function has tripled in size since Faura joined just nine months ago. By its nature, the business continually throws up unique legal challenges, and Faura attributes a large part of her team’s continued success to the strength of its individual members. ‘I have the privilege of working with incredibly smart forward-thinkers who (and I am quoting our CEO) think big, get things done and know how to have fun!’ Her focus over the coming year, she adds, will be on further developing the function, to meet the demands of LinkedIn’s continuing growth. In Faura’s view, it is still tough for female lawyers to advance. ‘I do believe that there is more to be done in the legal profession to provide viable alternatives for women as they become more senior at their jobs. 50% of the EMEA leadership team are women, many with families, so I feel supported at LinkedIn’. Faura previously spent five years supporting global payments provider First Data Corporation’s international business.
Michelle Feely’s wide-ranging experience in IP, media and entertainment law, make her invaluable to Telegael’s global business. As head of business and legal affairs, she oversees all legal and commercial affairs across the Telegael Group. Feely joined the company in November 2013, previously specialising in IP and IT at A&L Goodbody.
Jenny Fisher has deep experience in procurement and infrastructure across the health, education, waste and roads sectors in both Ireland and the UK. Her expertise have been put to good use during the huge infrastructural changes which have occurred in Ireland’s water industry over recent years. Still relatively newly privatised, Irish Water’s work routinely invokes challenging legal ramifications, alongside significant controversy and media coverage, making crisis management paramount for Fisher and her team. During her time as the utility’s legal head, she has also supported expansive projects to upgrade and replace several parts of the network. Formerly an Arthur Cox partner, Fisher acted on some of Ireland and the UK’s most significant PPP projects.
In a relatively short space of time at Irish Bank Resolution Corporation, Peter Gallagher has dealt with situations which were previously unheard of, in the jurisdiction. Sources particularly point to his effective management of first-of-its-kind disputes. He joined the institution shortly after its 2011 formation, through Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide Building Societys’ court-mandated merger. ‘It’s extremely fast-paced and unpredictable – you never know what legal issues you might have to consider on any given day’, Gallagher says. ‘There is also a sense of satisfaction that we are successfully navigating many of the complex issues which face a bank with such a complicated and at times difficult history, to the ultimate benefit of the taxpayer’. Joining a newly-formed entity in the throes of a turbulent transition was potentially a risky move, he concedes. ‘Many colleagues would have raised a quizzical eyebrow when I announced in 2011 that I was leaving a promising career in private practice to take up a role in a nationalised and universally criticised bank’, Gallagher says. ‘However, the complex back-story of IBRC, gave rise to a myriad of often unprecedented legal issues, which have challenged me to an extent that I could not have imagined’. Since his promotion to legal head in 2014, Gallagher has also been praised for the increased efficiency, he has brought to the function’s internal workings. As well as developing clearer processes and better communication within the team, he has also devised clear remits of responsibility to individual lawyers. When it comes to outside counsel, it is often the ‘understanding simple things’, he says, which can make a big difference to the service they provide.
Previously director of commercial legal services at telecommunications provider Eircom, Sarah Gallagher took up her current role at Tesco Ireland in August 2012. Her place on the leadership team puts her at the heart of business strategy. In recognition of her in-house work, Gallagher was honoured as one of the country’s most powerful women at the Women’s Executive Network’s (WXN) Leadership Summit in Dublin in June 2014
Noel Gaughran has drawn attention both inside and outside his organisation with his handling of high-stakes litigation since the 2008 crash. In the view of some sources, Gaughran has been particularly effective in developing a clear approach to disputes, and raising business awareness on the issue. During a three-decade career at the Big Four Ireland bank, he has also led retail, corporate and global restructuring support. He has been praised highly for his role in major strategic projects. Gaughran says it is his role as ‘partner to the business’ which has given him the greatest satisfaction in his role.
With broad commercial experience gained across Ireland and Australia, Michelle Geraghty is a veteran in-house lawyer with impressive transactional and organisational experience. During her time at Ion Trading, she supported the acquisition of several companies and integrated all legal functions in a short space of time. ‘While challenging, it was a great learning experience’, Geraghty says. ‘After five years with the same company, it was a great reminder that every company’s customer profile, risk profile and processes are different and that it is important to approach each commercial task with fresh eyes and context’. As the first in-house lawyer to join internet infrastructure specialist Afilias’ EMEA operations, Geraghty has spent her first six months in the role reviewing and refining all processes to optimise speed and efficiency. As a contracts lawyer, she is highly aware of the needs to balance legal protection against commercial goals and deadline. ‘I’ve learned the key to achieving this is communication’, she says. ‘Knowing the business and working closely with the relevant teams to fully understand the extent of the risks in each particular case is vital, since one size does not fit all!’
For over five years, Orla Gillen has been an important legal voice in 30-year-old aviation company, AWAS, headquartered in Dublin. With specialist industry knowledge in legal and business terms, Gillen is particularly skilled in structured finance and takes an active role in corporate governance management. Gillen’s tenure at AWAS has been marked with sustained growth and profitability and her recent work highlights include the company’s landmark $4bn sale of a 90-aircraft portfolio to the Macquarie Group in 2015. Gillen was previously legal counsel at global aircraft leasing company, Genesis Lease.
Dairygold Co-Operative Society is Ireland’s largest farmer-owned dairy business. As general counsel, Sinead Gillen oversees its multitudinous operations across Ireland, the UK, France, Germany and Spain. The privately-held company generates around €750m in turnover from its worldwide sales. Gillen previously spent two years as C & C Group’s general counsel and company secretary, following a ten-year stint as Waterford Wedgwood’s legal and corporate affairs director.
Rabobank’s award-winning Ireland legal head, Tara Glynn has been particularly recognised for her litigation expertise. Heading legal and company secretarial, Glynn has made significant changes to internal processes, in efforts to heighten efficiency. It is the ‘variety and the ability to add value on the ground’, which give her the most satisfaction in her current role, she says. Motivating staff against the backdrop of the financial crisis has been difficult, she concedes, with salaries stagnating and redundancies permanently on the horizon. ‘This required appealing to the intrinsic motivations of my staff coupled with improving the team dynamic’, she says, stressing the need to ‘create a sense of ownership, involvement and achievement’. When it comes to working with outside counsel, she would like firms to ‘see the bigger picture for the client’ and particularly the ‘operational impact’ of their advice.
‘I’m working with people who are very academically gifted in their field of expertise’, Cameron Goodwin says. ‘It is very refreshing and satisfying to be part of a global team with this level of focus and ability’. A seasoned in-house counsel with broad international experience, Goodwin impresses sources with his ability to work seamlessly around Lab49’s fast-moving, innovative business model. Providing support on highly technical issues, he manages a large proportion of work internally and takes a pivotal role in commercial strategy. ‘Lab49 delivers game-changing IT projects for its clients across the US, EU and Australia in the financial services industry’, Goodwin says. ‘Because the company delivers such bespoke solutions there is often a need for similarly bespoke documentation. As the business is in growth mode, there are also a lot of business initiatives that the legal group works with the business in implementing’. Given the nature of the work, Goodwin is very hands-on in his dealings with outside counsel, and says ‘ongoing consultation’ is paramount. ‘No business likes surprises so on the rare occasions things go wrong, I want the earliest ability to get more closely involved in the work to keep things on track’ he says. ‘Occasionally law firms struggle with this, but that is the exception rather than the rule and I’ve been generally satisfied with how external lawyers I’ve used to date have worked with this’. Following a private practice career spanning Ireland and Australia, Goodwin’s first in-house role was with leading Australian print business, PMP. Moving to Lab49 in Ireland, Goodwin concedes the step up to GC in a highly specialised industry was one of the biggest challenges of his career. ‘The upskilling and familiarisation for that leap was a significant challenge, but I am assured I’ve established the trust and respect of the business’
Marie Griffin has been involved in some of AIG’s most pivotal cross-border transactions of recent years, including the ground-breaking merger into the UK, which was the first of its kind in Ireland. She has also supported the substantial growth in the national portfolio. As the first in-house counsel to join the national business, Griffin developed its function from scratch and worked closely with senior management, to ensure its smooth integration. Previously working for a small retail bank, Griffin supported all legal aspects of the business’s dissolution. She previously practised at one of Ireland’s largest law firms.
‘One principle challenge is to effectively engage with journalists and editorial staff to ensure their hard work translates into published content’, Hugh Hannigan says. ‘It’s a very stimulating role, and I don’t think I’ve ever looked at my watch’. Supporting approximately 80 journalists across the Sunday Times, Irish Sun and Sun on Sunday, Hannigan oversees all content and commercial issues for the leading Irish titles. As Matheson’s former media head, Hannigan previously handled all legal work for the news agency, making the transition, to a degree, ‘seamless’, he says. During his time in the role he has revamped the function’s reporting structure, and worked to promote greater involvement with business. He has also introduced regular training sessions throughout the year, to raise awareness of when issues can occur. ‘I’ve been trying to develop the relationship between legal and journalists and editorial staff so that we help resolve any issues at an early stage’, Hannigan says. ‘Creating as risk-free an environment as possible for content publication purposes is a challenge. I guess like every role, it is how you do it and how you approach things’. One particular issue has been the heightened risk stemming from the rise of online. ‘It moves terribly fast’, he says, adding: ‘Ireland continues to be quite a litigious environment’. While conceding in-house lawyers are not always popular within the media industry, Hannigan says effective communication has always been key to his success. ‘It can be difficult to sometimes get the balance right when it comes to providing legal advice that is always constructive and never obstructive’, he adds. ‘These are busy newspapers whose journalists and editorial staff have deadlines to meet in a competitive and evolving industry. Your role is to support the business and the publication process. Delivering accurate, timely and consistent legal advice in a coherent manner is what is required and expected’.
‘I’ve been here six and a half years and I’m still learning’, says Jim Harper, Ireland GC to one of the world’s largest insurers. ‘Being able to provide technical legal advice with a pragmatic commercial focus and see the results of that advice is very satisfying. My role is very varied and every day raises new challenges’. During this period, Harper has drawn particular praise for his pivotal role in transferring Zurich’s EU non-life insurance business over to the Irish head office. Heading a 12-strong team across legal and company secretarial, he particularly prides himself on his role in developing the potential of his team members. ‘I have the pleasure of working with very talented people’. When it comes to outside counsel, Harper says firms need to provide something extra. ‘Technical expertise is taken as a given and so innovative (and – more importantly – relevant) value add provides a differentiating factor ‘. The common issue of fees is also a concern. ‘I expect complete transparency on fees from the outset and law firms could do more to avoid surprises in this context’.
David Hodnett has held the position of general counsel at The Commission for Aviation Regulation since May 2014. His position on the senior management team gives him a key input in business strategy. Hodnett currently leads the regulatory team on multiple projects in the areas of air carrier licensing, groundhandling, air passenger rights and litigation. This includes analysis of various air carrier transactions across multiple jurisdictions, crucial to the cross-border nature the industry dictates. Hodnett is also responsible for ensuring the business is fully compliant with EU legislation and represents the Commission all cases before the ECJ and other European bodies.
A highly experienced legal and compliance professional, Seán Hooper has implemented comprehensive compliance and risk management frameworks at leading global financial services providers. With employers Santander and Airvod, he is highly respected for his expert knowledge of cross-functional best practice procedures. Beginning his career in private practice, he was a partner at Hooper & Company Solicitors.
‘An industry expert’ ‘combining excellent legal and regulatory knowledge with a clear understanding of the business’, Mark Hughes ‘commands respect and admiration’. With ‘exceptional’ understanding of Ireland’s telecommunications industry, Hughes helped secured merger approval for 3’s 2014 acquisition of O2. As well as the transformative effect it had upon the brand’s national business, almost quadrupling its market share, the deal has ‘ensured 4G rollout to 97% of the Irish population’, Hughes explains. Leading a highly specialised stream within 3 Ireland’s legal function, he has made considerable changes to structures and processes, mapping out clear remits of responsibility to individuals and reducing reliance on outside counsel. He has also introduced cross-functional meetings, to promote smoother integration with the business (‘this is an ongoing process’, he says). Hughes previously worked at the Commission for Communications Regulation.
A well-known and highly respected corporate counsel, David Johnston has held senior legal roles across a variety of industries. As group company secretary, he provides broad compliance and legal support to Ireland’s iconic beverages business C&C, whose product portfolio includes Magners cider. As well as managing the national business, Johnston supports sales, marketing and distribution worldwide. Having spent nearly eight years with Paddy Power, including a two-year stint as GC, he began his in-house career as O2 Ireland’s chief legal counsel, after four years in private practice with McCann Fitzgerald.
‘There was a time when businesses constantly bought external legal advice’, Orla Joyce says. ‘I think Irish companies are now increasingly recognising the value of an in-house counsel. It’s not just about receiving that advice, it’s getting the commercial view’. The number of senior in-house roles has noticeably risen Joyce believes, and it is a trend she feels is set to continue. ‘I definitely see green shoots there – it is something that will develop and grow in my view’. There was no legal function or in-house counsel at Heineken’s Ireland base, two and a half years ago, and what began as a part-time role had snowballed into a full time position, when Joyce arrived in 2014. Over the past year, Joyce has been praised for the steps she has taken to codify processes and build a more sophisticated in-house function. In her previous and first in-house role at Bord Gáis, Joyce supported the state’s controversial privatisation of the water industry. ‘As the only senior legal counsel for the Irish water programme, initially I guided the business through the various significant legal challenges involved in its establishment’, she explains. ‘The setting up of Irish Water has been one of the biggest national projects in the history of the state and one that was extremely challenging and rewarding for me’. She previously practised for a number of years at A&L Goodbody, and having seen things from both sides of the table, Joyce stresses the need for flexibility. ‘Businesses want to see external legal advisors as their partners. Law firms should be very proactive in promoting different initiatives and ways of working to benefit its clients – especially longstanding ones’. She is also a firm believer in the benefits of client secondments. ‘You get to see what happens with your advices from start to finish. I think that’s very important’. Joyce is a senior lecturer at The Law Society and Griffin College Cork.
Emma Kearney heads all Ireland legal support and plays a central role in EMEA operations for Yahoo, the internet industry giant. With an ever-increasing legal and geographic remit, she has to continually contend with incremental work as the company expands into more and more markets. A year into her current role, Kearney’s impressive technology sector experience includes previous in-house roles at Websense and Vodafone. She started her career in private practice with Coughlan White O'Toole.
‘We think it’s going to have a massive global impact’, Adrian Kelly says on the Airsynergy business. ‘We’re now doubling power output in wind turbines. We’ve found the business case for a wind power project. It creates a new market – the objective is to really revolutionise the entire industry over the next five years’. Producing award-winning technology, Airsynergy’s licensing arm gives it a unique offering within the sector. ‘We see it as an energy distribution model’, Kelly says. ‘The future of energy is about empowering the end user’. The brand’s rapid growth looks set to continue, with future target markets including Germany, China and The Philippines. As its GC, Kelly is praised for his industry knowledge and entrepreneurial drive. ‘Energy is a very hot sector within technology’, says one commentator. ‘Adrian is dealing with something highly technical and the only way he can bring the best value to Airsynergy is if he really understands the business. He’s very good at focusing on the important issues’. One of Kelly’s early successes was his role in raising €10m in what he describes as an ‘early version of crowdfunding’. ‘There was no such thing as crowdfunding at that time’, he says. ‘I knew a lot of people were interested in investing. Once we started hitting our landmarks, it spread through word of mouth’. Funding these days, is rarely a problem, he says, and they have often turned it down, where the terms were too onerous. As a founding Airsynergy member, Kelly has played a central role in the business’s growth and strategy from day one, ‘inputting heavily into decision-making’. As well as managing legal, compliance and company secretarial, he also handles the company’s PR. ‘The key is pulling everything together to make sure the legal aspects complement, rather than inhibit, the business’, he says. ‘In this company, I’m one of the founders, so it allows me a lot of latitude in the way I do my job’. It is this broad crossover of his role which continues to keep things interesting, he adds. ‘It’s always new, it’s always challenging. There’s lots of creativity that goes into the job – you get the chance to really make a difference and build a legacy’.
A former chief state solicitor and veteran public sector lawyer, Donall King’s rare litigation experience includes complex judicial reviews and European and Irish constitutional issues. A respected voice in the nation’s in-house legal community, he has also taken an active role in discourse around best practices and law reform. According to sources, King adds considerable value as a strategist and through his thorough insight into risk management. During his time as Royal College of Surgeons’ legal head, he has made a significant contribution to internal processes and supported substantial changes within the organisation. King practised at Keans Solicitors for a number of years, and has worked in house at the HSE, Commonwealth Land Title and the Planning & Payment Tribunal.
‘I have been very privileged to have been a heart of key elements to the recovery of the Irish economy’, Antoine Mac Donncha says. ‘I am enormously proud of the work I have been involved in over the last 5 years in particular. I have not just had a front seat while the state’s history has unfolded, I have been on the stage, albeit in a supporting role’. As the Department of Finance’s pioneering in-house counsel, Mac Donncha joined in 2009, in the aftermath of the worldwide crash, and has since handled several ground-breaking initiatives. These have included establishing asset management agency NAMA, which took over €65bn loans from Irish banks and liquidating the IBRC. He also negotiated the State’s emergency lending with ESM, EFSF and the UK, at the same time Ireland’s program was being negotiated under Troika. ‘Aside from the enervating circumstances the difficulty was negotiating three complex documents with different counterparties’, Mac Donncha explains. ‘We were switching directly from one negotiation to another which was going on in parallel, under extreme time pressure, and with an enormous amount at stake’. Mac Donncha has built a seven-strong team across legal and compliance team over the past six years, carving out a central role for a legal function which did not previously exist. Mac Donncha and his team are also closely involved in the legislation formation. When it comes to working with law firms, Mac Donncha’s experience has been highly positive. ‘Whenever we have called upon them, I have been involved and this has prompted them to be particularly responsive, diligent and creative in respect of these projects’.
A former Commission for Energy Regulation analyst, Claire Madden is a respected industry expert, known for her flawless technical knowledge and ability to ‘see the bigger picture’. Heading all legal support for Ireland’s growing natural gas network, Madden has been at the epicentre of the body’s rapid growth, facing an array of untested legal issues along the way. She has supported some of the nation’s most significant infrastructure projects, including the ongoing €16.5m Wexford pipeline, and the Great Island pipeline, completed in 2013. Madden previously trained and practised at Arthur Cox, reaching associate-level before making the move in-house.
With an illustrious career spanning private practice and in-house, the ‘ambidextrous’ Tom Maher has been GC at internationally listed public companies, and partner at major corporate firms. ‘A leading expert in the life sciences industry’, Maher supported Mainstay Medical in its historic IPO, leading a legal team across Ireland, France and the US. ‘I regard the IPO of Mainstay Medical, which comprised a dual listing on the ESM of the Irish Stock Exchange and Euronext Paris, as a highlight achievement’, Maher says. ‘Mainstay Medical is the first company in history to be dual-listed in Ireland and France. The process of the IPO in these two different legal systems was novel and complex in many ways’. During his time at Amarin Corporation, Maher built a sophisticated legal team from scratch, which supported a number of strategic global transactions. As Mainstay’s first in-house lawyer, Maher is in the process of building a cohesive function to support the company’s significant global growth. ‘I have done this previously and find the exercise challenging and very rewarding’, Maher says. ‘It is a great opportunity to be able to create the legal function from a blank page and shape it optimally for the future’. When working with outside counsel, Maher stresses ‘efficiency’ on both sides. ‘A key driver in the efficiency dynamic is the selection of the right team in the right firm for the transaction at hand’, he adds.
With over 20 years’ experience at Smurfit Kappa, and 15 as its GC, sources praise Brian Marshall’s deep commercial understanding and his close integration with the business. A member of the senior management team, Marshall takes a central role in strategic decision-making at Ireland’s award-winning global packaging business, and has supported its most significant projects of recent times. Sources particularly praise his role in Smurfit Kappa’s development of innovative new product lines. A former partner at leading Gibraltar firm, Hassans, Marshall is US- and Ireland-qualified and has routinely led major international transactions both in house and in private practice
With over 10 years’ international financial services experience, Catherine May has supported leading European institutions through periods of seismic regulatory change. In her current role heading all legal and company secretarial support across Dell Financial Services’ EMEA operations, she is a respected member of the senior management team. Sources particularly praise her work on strategic planning around major legislative and regulatory changes across the regions she manages. Previously CIT Vendor Finance’s chief European counsel, May was also an associate at William Fry and began her in-house career at AIB.
During his eight-year tenure as legal head to Ireland’s largest health insurer, Joe May has supported the state-owned body through considerable organisational change. Praised for his handling of ongoing European and competition law issues, May also led the body’s successful recovery of €20m from healthcare providers, for incorrect invoicing in 2015.
With particular strength in international leasing, Colman McCabe heads all legal support across Hewlett-Packard International Bank’s EMEA business, taking a central role in executive decision-making. A former Lincolns Solicitors partner, he has over 15 years’ international financial services experience, and is known as a leading figure in Ireland’s legal market. In addition to his technical expertise McCabe has made a significant contribution to the bank’s regional compliance framework, as well as the legal function’s internal processes.
During his six-year tenure at the national telecommunications leader Peter McCarthy has led many of its defining projects and transactions. Most recently, he negotiated Virgin Media (then UPC)’s ground-breaking agreement with 3, which made it Ireland’s first MVNO mobile services provider. ‘The thing I enjoy most is the variety’, he says. ‘In my role I have a wide scope of responsibility from the heavily technical networks team to the commercial B2B team. Each day is a new challenge and it keeps me on my toes and at the heart of the operations of the Company’. McCarthy’s strong commercial focus was reflected in his selection for an internal leadership development program. He also played a substantial role in company-wide consultant, aimed at improving internal processes and employee satisfaction. Heading a small legal team, McCarthy worked alongside corporate streams to roll out a comprehensive contract-management system. ‘I think the biggest challenge has been obtaining buy-in from the business in adopting the new contract management process’, he says. ‘The challenge was to convince the business to change its practice and show the positive benefits the new process would have’
Possibly Ireland’s youngest GC, McLoughlin was passionate about his sector from an early stage in his career, and moved to CEMEX soon after qualifying. ‘I’ve always had a big interest in construction, projects, energy and natural resources’, he says. ‘It was great commercial and construction experience with CEMEX – I found the market set a pace – it was a very steep learning curve. I was in a unique position as the GC afforded me a great deal of autonomy, but it was a sink or swim environment – probably the best learning environment’. Joining CEMEX in the throes of the recession brought with it considerable challenges, which, once again, McLoughlin feels have made him a lot better at what he does. ‘Operations under stress are the best place to learn’. Coping with diminished resources and increased regulatory scrutiny, McLoughlin gained broad experience in a short space of time, and drew particular recognition for his role in CEMEX’s asset sale. Moving to become Galatech’s general counsel in 2014 offered an outstanding opportunity, he says, and once again a steep learning curve. ‘I have always had a keen interest in energy and a move into the growing market of renewable energy development was an excellent opportunity for me to improve my skillset and to learn about a new industry’, he says adding: ‘You start to appreciate your GC a lot more. When you’re leading, it’s a different challenge’. While the market remains tough, there are already tangible signs of improvement, in McLoughlin’s view. ‘The Celtic Tiger is long gone; you now have the Celtic Phoenix, and you can really feel the uplift in the economy across all sectors’. The challenging market conditions also offer significant opportunities to the nation’s in-house lawyers, in McLoughlin’s view. ‘The role of in-house counsel has seen phenomenal growth in Ireland over the past number of years. Since the economic crash it has grown substantially as businesses continue to seek added value from its internal corporate structure rather than relying on external counsel’.
A strong communicator with ‘commercial nous’, Darren McMahon has exceptional funds and asset management experience. After almost 20 years in-house, he has impressive industry credentials, having worked at the likes of Zurich Capital Markets and Bank of America. Heading State Street International’s legal function in Ireland for almost a decade, McMahon has earned tremendous respect across the organisation. A member of the national management committee, he participates in business decision-making from an early stage, handling significant cross-border projects and working closely with domestic and foreign regulators. Beginning his career in private practice at McCann Fitzgerald, McMahon was Cardinal Asset Management’s legal head prior to joining State Street.
David McMunn is highly respected in Ireland’s media and digital sectors, with an impressive track record across a range of in-house roles. As UTV’s first in-house counsel, McMunn is in the process of developing a comprehensive legal function. ‘This is a very interesting and challenging role’, he says. ‘I have been part of large teams (up to 10 lawyers) and also in a sole lawyer role. It is interesting that, irrespective of the size of the legal department, the key issues are always the same’. McMunn was selected as one of six industry specialists to assist the British Government in its G8 negotiations over the original Cyber Crime Treaty in the late 90s. ‘This gave me a lot of exposure to diplomacy and negotiation at some of the highest levels’, he says. ‘This type of interaction with government and regulatory authorities is a key element in any senior in-house role’. Working at UUNET/WorldCom during a defining time in the internet’s short history, McMunn was part of a group of lawyers who ‘were often setting precedents’. He has also been active in some of Ireland’s biggest EU state aid cases, relating to broadcasting.
At the helm of all legal and corporate services, Sylvia McNeece has led the award-winning legal function at the Pensions Authority for over a decade and plays a central in senior management. A leading regulatory expert, and respected voice in Ireland’s public sector, she has made a significant contribution to developing domestic and European pensions policy, most notably in supporting the EU pensions directive implementation. She also drafted amendments to the Pensions Act to be included in the annual Social Welfare and Pensions Bill. Handling an exceptionally wide remit, McNeece’s work has encompassed strategic HR and international finance controls. She is also a non-executive director of the Irish Auditing and Accounting Supervisory Authority. A member of the Law Society’s In-house and Public Sector Committee, McNeece was previously a legal development manager at the body. She began her in-house legal career at software business Iona Technologies.
In the novel role of executive counsel, Donal Moriarty covers all legal, company secretarial and public relations concerns in executive-level decision-making. With such diverse legal and commercial concerns under his watch, Moriarty is hailed for his agile and proactive approach, and sources particularly highlight his wide-reaching involvement in IAG’s anticipated €1.3bn takeover. Moriarty joined Ireland’s national flag carrier airline in 2009 as company secretary, before progressing to his current position two years later. He began his legal career in private practice, working at Middleton, Moore & Bevins Solicitors and William Fry Solicitors, before moving in house as Iona Technologies’ EMEA and APAC associate GC in 1999.
Deirdre Nagle has been central to some of EirGrid’s most significant regional projects of recent years, through her management of the wayleave process. During her five years with the national utility, Nagle has also drawn praise for her management of high profile disputes. With considerable industry knowledge and experience, she previously worked in-house at Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board.
Providing innovative technological solutions within the travel industry, OpenJaw Technologies’ client portfolio includes British Airways, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts, TravelSky and AIRMILES. An accomplished IP lawyer and trade mark attorney, Gemma Neylon has been the company’s GC since 2011. During this period, she supported the Irish start up through its $41.2m acquisition by GuestLogix at the end of 2014. With the resultant boost to its global business, the scale and complexity of Neylon’s work has swollen considerably. A UK- and Ireland-qualified lawyer, Neylon previously specialised in IP and technology at Mason Hayes & Curran for six years. She also lectures at the Law Society of Ireland and was a member of the body’s Curriculum Development Unit from 2012 to 2015. She is currently completing a two-year executive MBA at Smurfit Business School.
‘Linda has the ability remove barriers when it comes to the development of new products or routes to new markets’, in the view of one source. ‘She gives relevant commercial examples and she has ability to translate the law into everyday language’. A recognised industry expert, Linda NiChualladh is praised for her energy, business focus and capacity to cut highly technical subjects down to simple commercial absolutes. ‘Linda is an immensely valuable and sought-after internal resource’, An Post colleague, Peter Gallagher says. ‘She combines an excellent knowledge of the law with deep knowledge of the business, hard work, commitment, toughness, and sharp commercial acumen in creating innovative pragmatic structures’. ‘I’m basically a nerd lawyer’, NiChualladh says. ‘I’ve always worked in niche areas’. She gained wide recognition for her recent work on organising and hosting conferences in one particular area of expertise; data protection. Developed in collaboration with An Post’s marketing team, the events have proven hugely popular. ‘We decided everyone was worried about data protection but no-one knew why, so I held workshops for advertisers, and even our competitors’. NiChualladh has also become a regular speaker at conferences on the topic. ‘Linda has demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of the complex area that can be data protection’, Brian Honan of BH Consulting says. ‘Yet has been able to provide non-legal attendees at these conferences with a concise, informative, and humorous insight into the area’. While another source adds: ‘Linda has been instrumental in the success of the Association of Data Protection Officers, run by the ICS in Ireland’. During her time as a Competition Authority lawyer, Linda worked on a number of high profile merger cases, and was lead attorney on the Authority’s very first prohibition in the IBM and Schlumberger case. It was her desire to take a deeper engagement with the commercial operations of one organisation, which ultimately led her to An Post, she says. During her eight years with the company, she has made it a focus to build bridges with different arms of the business. ‘I think to achieve this you do it slowly – you really need to spend time to get to know people and the personality of the organisation itself and the challenges people are facing’, she says. Liam O’Sullivan at An Post, points also both to her relationship-building and negotiation skills. ‘Despite her approachability and humour her tenacity as a strategist, and a litigator should not be underestimated’ he says. ‘Her ability to connect with people and to understand quickly the dynamics of a situation coupled with her legal expertise and flexibility have resulted in unexpected but welcomed outcomes from tough negotiations which she isn't afraid to pursue’.
Tom O’Brien joined multinational life sciences investment business Brandon Point Industries in September 2015. As GC and executive director, he plays a central role in the senior management team and business planning around strategic investments in the likes of Malin Plc. In his previous role as Providence Resources’ GC and commercial manager, O’Brien carved out a reputation for himself both as a lawyer and a business advisor. ‘There are only 14 people in the company, but we have to be able to hold our own and do business with some of the largest companies in the world like Exxonmobil Transocean or Petrobras’, O’Brien explained, speaking in March 2015. ‘That’s what makes the job interesting’. Ireland’s pioneering offshore drilling business, Providence Resources won a contractual dispute with Transocean in 2014, which set significant precedents in the industry. ‘This was the first time these two key legal arguments had been tested in court under the form of contract widely used in the industry’, O’Brien added. ‘It’s very gratifying for our team now that many legal commentators and oil and gas professionals are referring to it as a landmark decision for the industry’. Despite current challenges in the oil and gas industry, Providence progressed hugely as a business during O’Brien’s five-year tenure; its multi-basin drilling program launched in 2011, and the company subsequently invested over $300m in the program. Ireland’s oil and gas industry is still at an early stage of development, with limited expertise in the local market, O’Brien says. As a result, Providence has played a significant role in driving things forward. ‘Providence is championing the Irish offshore and hopefully, helping to create a viable and dynamic oil and gas industry for the country’, he says. ‘It’s certainly challenging, but again, it’s part of the reason I enjoy what I do’. In his dual-role, O’Brien took an unusually close involvement in business operations. ‘I think if you come from a legal background you certainly look at situations differently to your finance and technical colleagues. You definitely bring a different perspective; I think if you are able to bring some commercial nous to the table’. He appreciates his position at Providence was perhaps unusual within Ireland’s in-house legal market, though he feels the situation is beginning to change. ‘I get a sense that in some larger organisations, there’s a risk that a GC can be pigeon-holed into a more regulatory or compliance role; someone who isn’t involved in the day-to-day business decisions for example. I do think that is changing in Ireland, largely because of the influence some of the US multinationals are having here’.
With considerable experience both in-house and in private practice, Syl O’Byrne established both Carne Groups’ and Daiwa Securities’ (now Sumitomo Mitsui) legal functions from scratch. He was also Credit Suisse’s Irish legal head from 2010 to 2014, during a period of ‘rapid regulatory change’ and considerable restructuring for the national business. When it comes to outside counsel, O’Byrne is an advocate for agreeing and sticking to fixed-fee arrangements, to avoid uncertainty and ‘fee creepage’.
A pre-eminent aviation lawyer, Jean O’Driscoll has over 10 years’ in-house experience and a reputation which proceeds her in the market. With previous roles as Greenstone Aviation’s GC and RBS Aviation Capital’s head of commercial negotiation, O’Driscoll has considerable leasing and finance experience, and has supported some of Ireland’s biggest transactions in the sector. During her four years at Amentum, she guided the business through two changes of ownership during a turbulent 12-month period from 2012 to 2013. A UK- and Ireland-qualified lawyer, O’Driscoll was previously an associate at Norton Rose Paris.
Heading international legal support for paddypower.com – Ireland’s largest ecommerce business – Emmet O’Grady supports a highly regulated industry within the constantly-evolving online arena. During four years in the role, he has drawn considerable notice for his commercial approach and his fruitful efforts to build dialogue on key legal issues in the industry. Having instigated an informal grouping of legal heads from a handful of key competitors, O’Grady highlights the benefits of sharing knowledge and experiences with those whose interests are ‘aligned’. He first joined Paddy Power on a six-month secondment, during his time at Arthur Cox. When a permanent role arose, he was drawn both to the diversity of work and the opportunity to work more closely with the business. Law firms could sometimes be more proactive and look for more creative solutions, he says. He would also like outside counsel to avoid what he terms ‘fee drift’ by updating clients at regular intervals. O’Grady is an external Law Society tutor, specialising technology, e-commerce and IP management.
Heading NTMA’s legal, control and compliance functions, US- and Ireland-qualified Andrew O’Flanagan has been at the epicentre of the agency’s efforts to turn around the nation’s credit reputation following the financial crisis. Sources particularly highlight his role in the €18bn early repayment of bailout loans to the IMF, resulting in €1.5bn cost savings over the loans’ lifetime. With associated hedging costs settled on the same day as the repayment, the transaction was handled ‘seamlessly’ in the view of one bystander. With impressive experience across Ireland’s public sector, O’Flanaghan has headed legal at both the Electricity Supply Board and Bord Gáis Éireann. He previously practised corporate law in London and New York at Davis Polk & Wardwell.
Managing 25 lawyers across 12 jurisdictions, John O’Halloran heads all legal support across Western and Central European business operations for the US’s largest insurer. Sources point to his role in significant strategic projects, and his considerable understanding of the region’s insurance industry. Sitting on the senior management team, O’Halloran’s influence stretches far beyond the purely legal, to growth and development plans. For his part, he sees the sheer breadth of his jurisdictional remit and the diverse legal and regulatory regimes it encompasses, as among his biggest challenges. ‘I enjoy working with colleagues from diverse cultural backgrounds and legal systems’, he adds
‘Facebook has a relatively young and dynamic workforce, which is refreshing after working in a law firm, where there’s more of a hierarchical structure’. One of the founding members of Facebook’s Ireland legal function, Peter O’Neill handles all advertising issues outside the US, leading a multi-jurisdictional team. ‘It was a bit of a whirlwind’, he says. ‘I’ve been here nearly three years and the digital advertising landscape has changed significantly over this period. In addition, the evolution of Facebook ad products and the companies we’ve acquired has meant the role has become more and more complex, interesting and challenging’. It is the highly international nature of the transactions he handles, O’Neill says, which really makes the work so unique. ‘The wide multi-jurisdictional breadth of my role is really rewarding. You have to consider how deals work culturally and legally’. Previously working at two Irish law firms, the culture at Facebook was a significant change of step; particularly in areas such as feedback. ‘Within Facebook, there’s the opportunity to give and get real-time feedback. In fact, it’s encouraged for people to give you feedback on a regular basis. Coming from a law firm, I think that’s something that was a little surprising at the beginning’.
One of Ireland’s leading public sector lawyers, Aideen O’Reilly is a respected expert in her field, having spoken publicly on areas such as fraud and asset recovery. During the course of her role, she has supported several significant strategic transactions, including the 2015 sale of an €8.4bn portfolio of non-performing loans in NAMA’s “Project Arrow”. O’Reilly has also brought and defended significant litigation on behalf of the Agency. In her previous role as a senior legal advisor at the NTMA, she worked closely with the National Pensions Reserve Fund and State Claims agency. She is a graduate of University College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast.
An Post’s highly respected legal head, Hugh O’Reilly has supported the state-owned postal provider during a transformational period of its history. He is praised both for his change management capabilities and his effectiveness in the face of unchartered regulatory issues.
Heading all legal and company secretarial functions at Dublin Airport Authority, Patricia O’Shea has supported the Authority in significant litigation and takes a central role in strategic planning. Sources particularly highlight her role in corporate governance initiatives. Before joining the Authority, four years ago, O’Shea gained diverse in-house experience with IBM and De Beers, spanning over 20 years. She has also worked as a legal consultant at McMahon & Williams Solicitors.
Richard O’Sullivan is praised by industry and private practice sources, for his innovative approach in the face of austerity. ‘When I started in my role as Head of Legal Services in 2010, I stepped into a very busy and vibrant regulator’, Richard O’Sullivan says. ‘Since then, the breadth and diversity of functions we are responsible for, and our employee numbers, have grown exponentially’. In response to this stretch on resources, O’Sullivan championed the use of an innovative cloud-based case management system, which had been developed in the US and never before implemented in Ireland. As well as adapting the system to the needs of the Irish regulator, creating ‘a largely bespoke solution’, O’Sullivan also spearheaded related strategy to accommodate the specific data protection and privacy issues related to the system. ‘This is a big win for the Legal Department, the organisation and the taxpayer’, O’Sullivan says. ‘For me, this is an excellent example of how, even in these difficult economic times, it is possible for legal to add huge value’. O’Sullivan established Health Information and Quality Authority’s legal function from scratch, developing comprehensive processes and procedures. As regulator to all Ireland’s health and social care sectors, the body’s remit is huge and growing, throwing up complex legal and compliance issues. In addition to the cloud database, O’Sullivan also implemented an extensive upskilling program within the team, to improve cost-efficiency in handling litigation. O’Sullivan’s view of Ireland’s law firms is highly positive, though he would like to see more efforts to share knowledge and resources with their clients. ‘It would be great to see them partner with clients to share these resources, which would in turn assist the in-house Legal Department to demonstrate additional value to the organisation’.
With sterling financial services experience across legal and compliance, Robert Owens works closely with Danske Bank’s Danish head office in cross-border initiatives. He has also led negotiations with some of Ireland's largest corporate and semi-state companies and supported more than one restructuring effort by the bank. Sources particularly rate his capabilities across derivatives, capital markets and investment activities. During his time as Ireland legal head he has focused on simplifying processes to lower costs, and bringing the function in line with global procedure. When it comes to outside counsel, Owens expects ‘proactivity’, ‘communication’ and a ‘solutions-oriented’ approach. He began his career at McCann FitzGerald and subsequently specialised in compliance at Investec Bank’s Ireland operations.
‘Simply one of the best IP lawyers working in-house’, Didier Patry is recommended by sources for his role in billion-dollar cross-border transactions. ‘I have learned to be a business enabler’, he says. ‘We help our business units to close strategic deals and bringing a large or must-win deal to close is always a great reward’. Currently leading nine lawyers across Europe and India, Patry has taken a pivotal role in recruitment and staff development throughout his in-house career. ‘I am a coach’, he says. ‘I am here to train people and see them grow, in my group or outside’. His decades of global IP experience includes over 10 years across HP’s US, French and UK headquarters, and a previous nine years in Swatch’s Swiss operations. His passion for this legal specialism remains one of his key motivations in the role. ‘IP is fascinating’. When it comes to outside counsel, Patry cites ‘communication’, as the key area for improvement. In particular, he would like ‘risk’ to be translated into tangible figures.
During her seven years as Citibank’s European legal head, Deirdre Pepper led some of the most sophisticated transactions in the region. Joining the company in the wake of the global financial crisis, Pepper had a big task on her hands, moving through stages of downsizing, crisis management, investigation and rebranding over a three-year period. In the wake of the crash, Pepper has made a significant contribution to building a robust compliance framework.
‘The aircraft leasing industry is truly global’, Ed Riley says, adding: ‘Avolon has a “can-do” culture and is continually looking to innovate wherever possible’. Widely respected across Ireland’s legal community, Riley drew particular acclaim for his role in Avolon’s IPO on the NYSE in December 2014. ‘This was the culmination of the first four and a half years of Avolon’s growth and was the largest ever IPO of an Irish-founded company’, Riley says. ‘It was a challenging, interesting and ultimately successful experience’. As its inaugural in-house counsel, Riley joined Avalon five years ago, shortly after its inception, building the legal function in step with the business. During this period, the aviation specialist’s global business has expanded spectacularly, to one comprising 126 aircraft with $5.6bn net worth. Heading a compact team of eight, dealing with the sheer volume and sophistication of transactions, carries significant challenges, Riley says. Conversely, he has harnessed this breadth and quality of work, to create uniquely holistic roles for transactional lawyers. This, he says, has made recruiting and retaining talent very easy. ‘Rather than being siloed into particular types of transaction or geographic areas, the transaction lawyers each cover the full range of transactions that Avolon enters into’, he explains ‘This breadth and variety of work has been a key differentiator in attracting high quality lawyers’. When it comes to outside counsel, client focus is key for Riley. ‘We appreciate law firms who invest time in really getting to know us and our business – the people, the systems and the issues that really matter to us. This is invariably reflected in better and more efficient service’. They have also had secondment arrangements with a number of firms. ‘This has always been mutually beneficial as it has helped scale up in-house resources when necessary and has provided the secondees with valuable commercial experience and insight into the needs and demands of their client’.
‘In terms of challenges, it’s about being able to deal with the issues which come across your desk – for example crisis management’, Padraic Roche says. ‘As head of legal you need to display a calming influence, so your CEO can see you can take charge’. Roche has advanced rapidly since he took up his first in-house role at Xilinx three years ago. Appointed global pension firm Mercer’s legal head in 2014, he moved to his current role as Malin Corporation’s GC less than a year later. ‘Being GC of a public company is something I’ve always aspired to’, Roche says on the move. ‘It means working with a highly skilled management team and a very strong board of directors and chairman. Life sciences is a very exciting industry and the company holds multiple investments in early stage companies, so the major focus is on M&A activities’. Roche has always been motivated by an interest in business, he explains, and it was a desire to get closer to the deals, which prompted his move in-house. Like many others, he feels the role of corporate counsel has significantly evolved in Ireland in recent times. ‘Over the last 10 to 15 years, I believe that growth in in-house legal departments in Ireland has been driven forward by US companies. Given the amount of US companies setting up in Ireland, their ethos is going to trickle down’. In his view, law firms need to think more about how they communicate with clients. ‘We need sharp, snappy answers. We don’t need deep analysis, we just need advice and we want it to be right’.
Eadaoin Rock’s recent promotion to GC follows five years as the function’s deputy head. A leading regulatory specialist in Ireland’s financial services sector, Rock has helped the national bank navigate the ongoing fallout from the 2008 crash and its subsequent bailout. During a few short months in the top spot, Rock has supported the bank’s analysis of Britain’s potential exit from the EU and its implications for Ireland and dealt directly with regulators on key policy issues. Beginning her career in private practice, Rock spent six years at Arthur Cox, before moving in-house.
One of Ireland’s most widely known and respected in-house counsel, Joanne Ross has headed national utility Bord Gais Energy since 2011. With previous roles at Coca-Cola and Lagan Technologies, Ross has broad sector experience, and is praised by sources, not only for her legal expertise but her instinctual ‘strategic’ understanding. Ross is praised for her broad commercial understanding, and is viewed by many as a leading expert in Ireland’s national energy sector.
Heading all national and international legal support for Ireland’s primary banking institution, Gabrielle Ryan is one of the nation’s leading financial services lawyers. She has played a central role in the banks strategic planning, and supported some of the most significant transactions taking place on a national and regional basis over recent years.
‘It is all about deal delivery, innovation, lateral thinking’. As the first in-house lawyer to join BNP Parabis Ireland, Davina Saint built a highly regarded seven-lawyer function, supporting Dublin, London, Paris and New York. ‘We are a recognised centre of excellence in the BNP Paribas Group for supply chain transactions and global trade transactions’, Saint says. Providing legal support to sophisticated, high value trade transactions, Saint also oversees governance and takes an active role in determining strategy. ‘Every day is very different’, Saint says. ‘I meet and work with a lot of brilliant people who are very stimulating, fun and dedicated. It's good nearly every day’. When it comes to outside law firms, ‘commerciality’, she says, is one key area for improvement. ‘Almost always, "done" is better than "perfect" and sometimes I just feel we all get overkill of what would be a "nice to have" and what is actually a "must have"’.
With almost 20 years’ aviation experience, Thomas Schmid has a long track record in major cross-border leasing transactions. In his current role, he leads legal and corporate affairs and also manages Intrepid’s Ireland operation. As such, Schmid plays a huge role in the business’s strategic operations. With previous senior legal roles at CIT Aerospace International and TUI UK, his broad experience spans ECA support financing, aircraft sales and purchases, insurance and maintenance.
‘In-house legal departments have become a lot more popular in this jurisdiction over the past few years – it’s a growth industry in Ireland’. Just two years into his first in-house role, ‘highly creative business lawyer’ Michael Shanley has already made waves, drawing praise both inside Panda and from the firms he instructs. In Shanley’s view, a core part of his effectiveness as GC, comes down to winning over the business. ‘My main shareholder and chairman is a bit like Alan Sugar – sometimes you need to take an unpopular position and defend it in the boardroom’. He has been heavily instrumental in the launch of Panda Power – a private equity fund focused on the electricity industry. Within Ireland’s highly regulated market, the project was a massive undertaking, requiring Shanley to draft a code of practice which could be applied easily by non-lawyers company-wide. Since his arrival in the role, Shanley has, in his words, ‘built on the good work of my predecessors’, heightening efficiency and focusing on making legal advice as accessible as possible. He has also handled major litigation and undertaken considerable competition work, ‘a significant issue for the waste industry’. When it comes to outside counsel, Shanley values a fast turnaround above all else. ‘We’re a fairly demanding client so we get the service we need from law firms’.
‘I have a very dynamic and wide-ranging role’ Margaret Smith, CarTrawler’s GC says. ‘I’m constantly expanding the boundaries of my experience’. Valued for her efficiency and ‘common sense’ approach, Margaret Smith has successfully guided global vehicle hire business CarTrawler through two private equity investments. She has taken a hands-on role throughout the business’s rapid growth, reflected in her appointment as board director to CarTrawler’s reinsurance subsidiary. ‘I think overall – the biggest challenges I have faced in my role relate to the speed of our business’, Smith says. ‘I refer to our recent and ongoing international M&A activity, responding to the changing requirements of our commercial team and my role on the board of our new reinsurance subsidiary company, which really pushes me out of my range of experience to date’. When she joined CarTrawler in 2010, the company did not have a legal department, and she was required to build a comprehensive function from scratch. ‘I have established a team that sits at the very heart of the business and adds value across all departments’, Smith says. ‘It is considered an intrinsic part of the commercial decision-making process’. She has been particularly praised for developing a comprehensive and innovative contractual framework, which has revolutionised this aspect of business processes. She has also introduced biannual training sessions across marketing, partner management and supply management teams. ‘The aim of the session is to remove any fear out of contracting and give the teams the tools they need to negotiate contracts without legal input, whilst also ensuring the risk is minimised’. Smith has also introduced fundamental compliance frameworks, including one for anti-bribery and corruption. When it comes to outside counsel, her feelings resound with the universal gripe over fees. ‘I’d like to see more transparency when it comes to the billing process and more clarity on how they have added value to a particular transaction or business dealing’.
‘A skilful and pragmatic lawyer’, Rory Sullivan excels in complex global IP transactions, and has lead significant joint ventures at both Pfizer and 3Com. ‘I really enjoy the breadth of the role’, Sullivan says of his current position. ‘Lots of in house work is narrow, but this role isn’t like that. You look at the full gamut of work’. During nearly nine years at the world-leading pharmaceutical, Sullivan has remained focused on heightening his team’s efficiency and effectiveness in supporting the business. ‘One of the important changes was moving to matrix working’, he says. ‘I found that work was getting jammed at the senior end of the team because everything funnelled through us. Response times were hindered and our junior level had less access to clients’. In spreading the work more evenly, Sullivan says response times greatly improved, and more junior staff were given much greater developmental opportunities. With nearly 17 years’ in-house experience, Sullivan has also worked at IBM and mobile technology industry group, GSM Association.
Formerly Vodafone Ireland’s legal head, Edward Traynor joined Paddy Power, the biggest gambling operator in the Ireland market, in 2015. Praised for his exceptional knowledge of Ireland’s telecommunications sector, Traynor now leads an extensive and multi-layered legal function, within one of the world’s most highly regulated industries. Sources also point to his positive approach to working with the business, and ‘lateral’ problem-solving ability.
As EY’s Ireland GC, Suzanne Tucker is at the heart of its national strategic planning and is widely praised for her contribution to its corporate governance framework. The big four accountancy has made headlines this year with its ground-breaking tax relief advice to Airbnb. Supporting potentially precedent-setting advice of this kind, Tucker has been at the helm of an evolving area of law in the country. With 20 years’ in house experience also spanning ICS Building Society and Irish Life & Permanent, Tucker has a deep and varied understanding of Ireland’s financial services industry.
Dubbed by some as among Ireland’s most high-powered and ‘resilient’ corporate counsel, Patrick Wilkinson faced considerable challenges early in his in-house career. A year after joining Barings’ Ireland from private practice, his remit was transformed, when Northern Trust purchased the fund in 2005. From the outset, Wilkinson says, it was made clear to him, that ‘if I wasn’t up to scratch, there would be no hesitation in getting rid of me’. A decade later, as well as leading the Irish legal function, he also manages The Trust’s EMEA global funds business. ‘It’s the same job, and it’s not the same job’, he says. ‘It’s light years away from when I joined. When I joined there were 180 people, with assets under custody of around the $20-30bn mark. In March, Northern Trust’s assets were valued at $386bn and we have about 1,000 employees in Ireland alone. The breadth of products and services we support is also significant’. Wilkinson is particularly praised for his role in purchasing Bank of Ireland’s security services business. He also counts his team’s response to the financial crisis, as among his biggest professional achievements. ‘Looking back, our Ireland business was not profitable in 2011. We’ve recovered now to a position where we are making a meaningful contribution to the overall bank’s bottom line, and being part of the senior management team who has achieved that is a real highlight’. The legal team takes a very central role in strategic decision-making, Wilkinson says, and this is very much ingrained in the business culture. ‘Northern may be unlike other banks, in the way it truly values and actively seeks the input of its legal department. We’re a very valued group within the organisation and people hold a lot of store in what we say. We’re consulted on all things – we’re in-house counsel, rather than lawyers. We’re here to provide common sense solutions not just legal advice’. An inherent feature of this, is that the function is not required to justify its costs, in a significant departure from the approach from most organisations. ‘We don’t spend a great deal of money with outside counsel in Ireland, but when we do we aren’t directly responsible for the costs of that – the business pays’.
Leading an 18-strong team, Rory Williams is facilitating one of the most significant changes to Ireland’s public utilities in recent times. Newly-created government body Ervia brings Gas Networks Ireland and Irish Water together into one entity. Since his arrival in 2014, Williams has been tasked with integrating both organisations’ separate legal functions into one entity. Formerly Treasury Holdings’ GC, Williams helped establish the national property group’s now highly prominent Chinese real estate business between, 2005 and 2007. He also drew notice across Ireland’s legal community, with his role in launching the pro bono initiative, PILA (Public Interest Law Alliance). Williams feels strongly more firms should make pro bono integral their work. ‘It is a straightforward and very rewarding way for firms to engage their lawyers and enhance the reputation of the Irish legal sector’.
Heading up global leader Western Union’s Irish legal and compliance functions, Feidhlimidh Wrafter stands apart in his exceptional regulatory knowledge and cross-border experience. Sources particularly note his development of European-wide controls in consumer and data protection. ‘My dual role as head of legal and compliance is particularly relevant in the current regulated financial services environment’, he says. ‘I’ve moved beyond a strategic advisory role to a deep understanding of how to implement compliance and manage legal and regulatory risk at an operational level’. During his time as Irish Bank Resolution Corporation’s legacy claims head, he provided crucial support during its nationalisation, handling several high profile civil and criminal proceedings. Managing a growing team, Wrafter established Western Union’s Irish compliance program from scratch and has led a number of initiatives, in efforts to strengthen ties with the business function. ‘Working in a global company like Western Union provides a fantastic opportunity to develop one’s understanding of how legal advice and the implementation of compliance practice are best adapted to meet the needs of the group’, Wrafter says. In his view, law firms should focus on really understanding client objectives. ‘The primary challenge for outside counsel working with in-house colleagues is to ensure that they understand their clients’ business models and tailor their advice to meet their clients’ external advisory requirements’.
Ireland: An Overview
Amid robust economic recovery, corporate activity has soared in Ireland
Ireland’s economic recovery continues to reaffirm its position as the poster child of European austerity. In September 2014, official government figures showed that the country’s economy grew by 7.7% in a year. Significantly, the European Commission expects real growth to hit 3.6% overall for 2015, a projection that would mark Ireland as the fastest-growing economy in the European Union.
The country’s robust economic performance has already translated into M&A deal flow. According to some figures, the total value of M&A deals for 2014 comfortably exceeded €100bn, the highest since 2000. The astonishing turnaround in investor appetite has been buoyed further by the expected US government clampdown on so-called ‘inversion transactions’, which is driving US companies to relocate their tax base to Ireland before the proposals become law.
Earlier this year, Ireland’s prime minister (An Taoiseach) Enda Kenny made an appeal to emigrants who had departed the country in the aftermath of the economic crash to return home. Speaking at the launch of an official government policy paper, ‘Global Irish: Ireland’s Diaspora Policy’, the appeal was aimed at encouraging educated Irish people to return, as the government ramps up efforts to entice international investment and capitalise on the fragile Irish economic recovery.
Identifying around 200,000 people, Kenny said: ‘Emigration has a devastating impact on our economy as we lose the input of people, of talent and energy. We need these people at home. And we will welcome them. I believe that, after seven years of emigration, 2016 will be the year when the number of our people coming home will be greater than the numbers who leave.’
Although an ironic statement given the incumbent government’s less than enthusiastic support for the graduate population just five years before, it nevertheless reflects the slowly reviving notion of Ireland as a prosperous nation once more.
Significant drivers of renewed corporate activity include a series of loan book sales by both domestic and international institutions operating in Ireland, as well as work related to the recapitalisation and restructuring of the Irish banking sector post-crisis. Inversion deals by US and European clients, although tailing off, have dominated the corporate space and drove deal value through the roof in recent years, with this year’s largest transaction involving an Irish company so far being Mylan’s $32.6bn bid for Irish pharma company Perrigo Company, according to data provided by Mergermarket. The bullish mood is predominantly seen in the technology, medical and pharmaceutical, and leisure industries.
Eighty eight new-name investors entered the Irish market in 2014, according to IDA Ireland, translating into a 13% increase on 2013. Dublin’s docklands have become internationally known as ‘Silicon Docks’, thanks to the arrival and expansion of leading technology companies in the area, including Google, Facebook and Ancestry.com.
The country’s robust economic performance has obviously translated into M&A deal flow. Deal activity increased by 37%, with 115 deals in 2014, up from 84 in 2013. This compares with growth of 9% across Europe. The total value of M&A deals for the first nine months of 2014 comfortably exceeded €100bn.
One of the major features of Ireland’s robust transactional market has been the continuation of inversion deals that have kept the leading corporate firms busy. The trend gathered pace in 2012 and 2013, before accelerating last year, and was driven by corporations seeking lower tax bills than those currently levied at 35% of profits in the US. With a competitive corporation tax of 12.5%, Ireland has presented itself as a hotspot destination to remedy the problem with leading domestic law firms providing counsel on company law, tax and takeover regulation issues.
An example includes the $18bn merger of equals between Willis (which has an Irish-incorporated holding company listed on the New York Stock Exchange) and Towers Watson in June. The combined entity will have an Irish-incorporated, US-listed parent. The pace of inversion deals is, however, expected to slow, as recent action taken by the US Treasury in September 2014 limiting the ability to undertake tax-driven transactions is set to reduce activity.
The major source of investment into the country stems heavily from abroad, in particular US and European funds. Research commissioned by the American Chamber of Commerce Ireland, entitled ‘The Irish-US Economic Relationship 2015’, concluded that US firms have invested more than $277bn since 1990, while the output from US companies resident in Ireland exceeds $80bn annually. Moreover, according to a venture capital overview report published by the European Private Equity and Venture Capital Association in 2014, Ireland equalled the EU average for private equity investments seen as a percentage of GDP, at 0.274% compared with a European average of 0.277%.
McCann FitzGerald corporate partner Alan Fuller now believes the landscape of investment is changing and says: ‘Twelve months ago it was international buyers looking to buy up cheap Irish assets and make a quick return. There are more trade deals and not just pure funds-type investors or private equity, which is a great sign.’
Such is the confidence in Ireland’s ability to compete for investment on an international stage, the government has implemented unusual manoeuvres to help stimulate future outlays, with a €7.2bn sovereign wealth fund. Dubbed the Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF), it serves as a discretionary portfolio targeted at both debt and equity investment, with the aim of generating growth in Ireland. Advised by McCann FitzGerald, its first venture was a €50m cornerstone investment as part of the €330m initial public offering of life sciences company Malin Corporation in March.
Undoubtedly the Irish economy remains in a fragile position for the foreseeable future, with its debt burden in particular proving a major obstacle to recovery. But what is also clear is the country’s cemented status as an attractive jurisdiction for deal-making in the global transactional market.
Barry Devereux, Managing Partner at McCann FitzGerald:
McCann FitzGerald is delighted to support the inaugural GC Powerlist for Ireland. I would like, on behalf of all the partners at McCann FitzGerald, to congratulate the corporate counsel that have been selected for this prestigious publication.
Having come through some turbulent years, indicators as we head into the final quarter of 2015 point towards a positive story for Ireland. According to the latest IBEC quarterly report, a trio of external boosts to the Irish economy – the ECB’s QE programme, lower energy prices and a weak euro – all point to a continuation of Ireland’s strong economic growth performance in 2015.
Surging exports and investment, which led to growth of 4.8% last year, are continuing their strong performance and unemployment levels are at their lowest in eight years. Leading indicators in the first half of the year suggest that business investment growth in both services and manufacturing has continued its strong expansion.
The Companies Act 2014 came into effect on 1 June 2015, with the intention of making it easier for companies to do business in Ireland, whether domestically or by using Ireland as a regional or a global base. Lawyers, both in-house and in practice, are working hard to guide businesses and assist them in taking advantage of these and other regulatory and legal changes.
These positive developments, coupled with ever changing and disruptive technology, mean the legal industry is constantly evolving in order to meet client and business demands. Given the recent developments in both the economy and the corporate legal landscape there is now, more than ever, a higher demand for strong and innovative corporate counsel in Ireland, with the role of in-house lawyers continuing to grow.
In-house legal teams are being called on to take a leading role in advising businesses, and have an expanding influence in areas such as risk management and business strategy. They are seen as thought leaders and experts within their industries, with the insights to drive and create business opportunities and influence decisions at the highest levels.
Private practice lawyers have a strong role to play when advising corporate counsel, and it is important that they have an understanding of the economic and business landscape that their clients are operating in. They need to be on hand to offer expert counsel within their area of expertise, and work closely with their in-house counterparts to navigate through the changing business, regulatory and legal environment. There are a wealth of opportunities for private and in-house legal teams to collaborate, allowing them to give the most expert advice to their business, and ultimately to drive further growth.
McCann FitzGerald is excited by both the positive economic outlook for Ireland and the evolving role of corporate counsel. As a firm we seek to enable your progress through the provision of strategic legal counsel on the major business and commercial issues of our time delivered through a culture of high performance and high integrity. We look forward to developing further our partnerships and collaborations with corporate counsel as Ireland continues its economic recovery. These partnerships enable business to utilise the insight that McCann FitzGerald has derived from working with clients across a range of industries for many decades.
On behalf of all the partners at McCann FitzGerald, I wish to extend our warmest congratulations to all that have been included in the inaugural GC Powerlist for Ireland. Recipients of this accolade come from a broad and varied range of sectors, from banking and financial services to retail chains and consumer brands. This prestigious recognition highlights the hard work, strength and innovation displayed by corporate counsel across Ireland, and also emphasises the increasingly important and expanding role of corporate counsel in today’s business environment.
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