Litigation Lawyer of the Year 2016 – Ireland
Based in West Limerick in Ireland, PG McMahon Solicitors are a long established firm with a wide private client and business base. We spoke to Rossa McMahon, Partner at the firm, to find out more about their company and get their unique insight into what it’s like working in their region.
Despite providing a range of different services, litigation has always been the core strength of our practice, which goes back to our early days when Garry McMahon established our practice in the 1960s. Garry was a renowned personal injury litigator and also had considerable experience in property disputes. As a result of his expertise, he was appointed in the late 1990’s to a court committee that formulated proposals to the Government that ultimately led to the establishment of the Commercial Court. Furthermore, the firm has acted in a number of significant cases which set legal precedents in Ireland, including in the areas of defamation and arbitration.
Today, we continue to have a focus on personal injury litigation which has included some non-standard cases recently. Examples include product liability proceedings arising out of the DePuy ASR hip recall and complicated liability issues arising out of the collapse of a significant insurer of motorists in Ireland. We have also acted for small businesses and creative professionals in dealing with intellectual property issues and for employees in Commercial Court proceedings alleging unfair competition with previous employers. Personally, I have a particular interest in data protection and privacy issues and am regularly involved in cases against the Irish State for breach of data protection rules in policing records and against a professional regulator for attempting to obtain sensitive personal data in breach of data protection laws.
As a company based in Ireland, we have had to overcome many challenges since the financial crisis in 2008, and the Irish legal market has been in a state of flux ever since. Even before that, competition increased considerably and the number of lawyers in the market multiplied dramatically. New legislation reforming the regulation and structure of the profession is in the process of being implemented, which has raised many new challenges for us and our competitors. We are acutely aware of similar reforms, some years in advance of Ireland, that have taken place in the UK and watch with interest the experience there. But we certainly expect that the market will look very different five or ten years from now and we aim to position ourselves for that new reality so that we can take advantage of any opportunities that arise.
Looking more closely at our region of County Limerick, we are based from a large town in a rural area. In the past that would have limited growth and opportunities somewhat, though we have always had a broad geographic client base due to various partners in the office coming from different parts of the wider area. However, in recent years we find that in many situations clients want the right person for the job, rather than just the nearest person. That presents us with a significant opportunity but requires a focus on marketing, name recognition and online presence that traditionally many solicitors have neglected. We are meeting that challenge, with significant success in attracting new clients and cases from much further afield than our local area, including international clients who need legal services in Ireland.
As for our experience of the legal industry in general, we have found that legal costs have been under a lot of pressure for the past eight years and will continue in the future. As such, litigation remains an expensive and uncertain undertaking for clients. In areas like personal injury, awards are being cut significantly by the appeal courts and the insurance industry is lobbying hard to restrict awards. In other areas like commercial litigation, the reality of modern data and discovery has made litigation a frequently unsurmountable obstacle for businesses, with only the largest or the wealthiest capable of litigating their issues. Both situations raise issues with access to justice.
With regards to our approach towards client service, our mission is to provide accessible and practical advice, whether it be for private clients facing personal difficulties or stressful litigation, or businesses facing business-critical issues. We want to be trusted advisers who have a long-term relationship with our clients, and that is how our business has developed over the past 50 years. We achieve this by knowing our clients and being responsive to them and their needs. Information is key, from explaining procedures and managing expectations at the outset to keeping clients as updated as they should be throughout a dispute. Each client is different and the level of contact and information they require and expect varies, and we think we have always been strong in judging those expectations and meeting or surpassing them.
Alongside this approach, we have a tight, focussed team in our firm and always work in collaboration so that, generally, most solicitors are aware of the work of the others and can take over matters as and when necessary. This means that all of us also know that our work is reviewed by colleagues, and cases are discussed openly between fee earners regularly. We find this the best way to ensure that our values are consistently applied from case to case.
As for the award, we were delighted to receive this accolade and feel that it was recognition of a long tradition of excellence in litigation. Our founder, Garry McMahon, sadly died in 2008 and we see it as a mark of pride in his achievements and those of the other solicitors in the firm. As lawyers, our focus is on obtaining awards for our clients, or a successful outcome for them, but quite often the public does not or cannot know about a lawyer’s successes, so an award like this is welcome acknowledgement.
Looking further into 2016 and beyond, we are very optimistic about the future of our company. Having gone through a process of rebranding and upgrading our systems, as well as gaining a foothold in some niche areas of the law, we want to build on that. With the regulation of the legal market still subject to change we are open to opportunities in the future.
PG McMahon Solicitors
Name: Rossa McMahon
Web Address: pgmcmahon.com
Address: 10 The Square,
Newcastle West, Co Limerick
Telephone: 353 69 62200