Business Irish

Monday 19 February 2018

Samantha McCaughren: The legal merry-go-round has got a push from Brexit

Connemara’s Kylemore Abbey will host a delegation from Notre Dame university in the US
Connemara’s Kylemore Abbey will host a delegation from Notre Dame university in the US
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

Ergo has been so busy following the travails of Harvey Specter in Suits, the runaway Netflix legal series, whose seventh season kicked off last week, that I forgot to look in my own backyard for some hot legal gossip.

And it's all fun in the world of funds these days, it seems. Word reaches me that not one, not two, but three partners in top five law firm William Fry will be joining rival magic circler Arthur Cox early next year, in what is being described by m'learned friends as the legal steal of the decade.

Ian Dillon, partner in William Fry's asset management and investment funds, is to depart, along with Cormac Cummins and Tara O'Reilly of the same parish.

Clients are staying put, I hear. Which is just as well, as the trio are very well regarded. Cummins alone represents some of the largest fund promoters in the Irish market, including BlackRock, Barclays, BNY Mellon, Lazard, State Street and Vanguard.

It's a tough pill for William Fry's near 30-strong funds department to swallow and one of the biggest joint departures in the legal domain in recent years.

Such en-masse departures are common in the UK and the US, but senior hires in Ireland tend to move more quietly - and individually - in this small if buoyant legal market. But the William Fry trio are not the only ones on the move.

Pinsent Masons,the UK law firm, recently poached Gayle Bowen, a partner specialising in investment funds and current chair of the Irish Funds Legal & Regulatory Committee, from Walkers. Andreas Carney, a partner who specialises in outsourcing, data protection and IT, joined Pinsent from Matheson. And Dennis Agnew, a partner who specialises in corporate law, joined Pinsent from Byrne Wallace,

Irish law firms are nursing not so much post-Brexit blues but a fear that their London counterparts, more than 1,000 of whom have registered with the Law Society of Ireland in a pre-emptive strike, may come looking to snap even more domestic talent.

Expect more than a few Specter-style moves if Blighty really does leave the EU.

Kylemore nuns have a few lessons for business leaders

Catholic US university Notre Dame is increasingly using Connemara’s Kylemore Abbey as its home away from home and is taking its Executive Integral Leadership programme to Ireland for the first time this September. The fee for the three-day course is $8,700, with only the first 14 getting accommodation in the stunning abbey, which formerly housed a school.

In the marketing bumph, Neil Naughton, deputy chairman, Glen Dimplex Group and University of Notre Dame Business Advisory Council member, says: “With the rapid pace of change in today’s world, leaders need to know how to motivate their teams for fantastic performance and how to ‘think differently’, all the while keeping their values at the forefront.”

The business leaders could learn a thing or two from the Benedictine nuns. As they’ll observe, constant coachloads of tourists make Kylemore one of the most popular tourist attractions out West.

* * * * *

Matt Cortland, a Dublin-based US entrepreneur, got a raft of international publicity in recent weeks over his plans to set up a ‘wizarding pub’ in London.

Cortland said his ‘fantasy bar’, The Cauldron, would use technology, science and design to simulate the magic from literature such as Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones. He has already lined up the technology for levitating candles, wands to pour pints and control the lights, and moving photos. He aimed to raise $500,000 through Kickstarter but with just over a week to go, less than $40,000 in funds has been committed. If the full amount is not reached, none of the funds can be accepted.

Cortland said: “I’ve had a massive response on social media and through sign-ups and emails to me from excited people, so the excitement and appetite are definitely there.” He will now try magic up some traditional backers and is hopeful that some closet Potter fans already invested in the hospitality sector can see the appeal of fantasy pints.

GAA grassroots connect with Clune’s job programme

The IDA may be a winner at finding jobs for the big cities, but the GAA reckons there is only one champion in rural Ireland.

It has written a submission to the Department of Enterprise, demanding that Connect Ireland’s stalled contract be reinstated.

It has had, it wrote, a successful partnership in its rural heartlands with businessman Terry Clune’s job initiative. Citing the example of the Magni Group, which has created 17 jobs in Mallow, the GAA’s argument won’t find too many detractors in rural dressing rooms that are too often decimated by emigration.

“Understandably, this type of company is not of a size to warrant IDA interest; however, these kind of companies provide valuable and sustainable employment to rural Ireland and enrich a community by providing much needed economic development,” said the submission.

“The Magni Group was close to deciding to locate the facility in the Czech Republic and were it not for the intervention of Connect Ireland and the GAA, these jobs would have gone elsewhere.”

* * * * *

Homeowners in Cork who covet flat-pack, cheap Swedish furniture have reason to be hopeful. Representatives of Ikea, which has been a roaring success in Dublin, met with Cork City Council earlier this year to mull over options for the furniture chain.

Temple Bar Management, which acts for the Swedish company, has held several meetings on the matter.

The most recent was to discuss “a proposal to build and operate an Ikea store in the Cork region, with particular emphasis on possible traffic difficulties”.

A few clues as to Ikea’s plans come from handwritten notes of the minutes, released under the Freedom of Information Act.

It appears that Ikea will follow the model it introduced in Dublin’s Carrickmines, where people come in and order furniture for future collection or delivery.

The company told officials that only 10pc of customers in Dublin are passers-by, with the rest making a “purposeful journey”.

Little surprise then that other collection plans are planned around the country.

Sunday Indo Business

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