DUBLIN firm Mason Hayes & Curran is poised to open a New York representative office
The firm has made a high-profile hire for the launch, taking on Bear Stearns' Dublin general counsel to head up the new office. Mason Hayes will join the small band of Dublin firms with offices in the US. Ireland's two largest firms, A&L Goodbody and Arthur Cox, have both had New York offices for some time and Matheson Ormsby Prentice, which is more technology-focused, has an office on the West Coast in Palo Alto. A permanently staffed US office is a major investment and the decision by Mason Hayes managing partner Declan Moylan to set up there signals a serious assault on US foreign direct investors into Ireland. The office will not offer a US law service. Moylan said: "Despite the apparent instability post 11 September, we continue to believe one of the main sources of inward investment will be the US. The country is still one of Ireland's top two trading partners, and if we're serious about giving a full business law service, we need to focus on the US market." Former Bear Stearns in-house lawyer Daniel Walsh will head up the New York office. Walsh is an American and a New York State-qualified lawyer who moved to Bear Stearns eight years ago following a stint in private practice. His appointment is unusual because other Irish firms have staffed their offices with Irish associates. Moylan said: "I believe that a US lawyer is more likely to have a sophisticated view of the US market. Anybody going out there for the first time has a very steep learning curve. An Irish lawyer would only stay out there for a year or two and we hope to have a long-term relationship with Daniel." Although Walsh will be at a disadvantage in his knowledge of Mason Hayes as a firm, one partner at another Irish law firm described the capture of Walsh as "something of a coup". Moylan has just been re-elected for another term as Mason Hayes' managing partner, having stood unopposed. He told The Lawyer that he intended to strengthen Mason Hayes in its focus legal areas of corporate, IT, human resources and litigation. However, he favours steady growth rather than rapid expansion. A London office is not on the agenda, but Moylan has made finding a larger and more prestigious Dublin address a priority for his tenure.