Damian Curley has just returned from the European Young Bar Association Conference in Belfast, and shares his thoughts with us on how Northern Ireland is finding its place in the world.
How do we define national identity? It takes leadership and focus to project the image a country deserves, and last week, Northern Ireland’s legal leaders painted a picture of a thriving marketplace worthy of investment.
The European Young Bar Association Conference in Belfast turned the spotlight on investment in a country that offers operating costs 50% lower than in London or New York, and perhaps more notably, 30% lower than in neighbouring Dublin.
It was fitting that a conference bringing together the best young talent in the legal profession was hosted by a country with one of Europe’s youngest populations. Over half of Northern Ireland’s workforce is aged under 40, and the next generation of Irish professionals is well served by an educational system that consistently out-performs the UK as a whole. Topics covered at the event inevitably included social media. With current contempt of court legislation dating back to a time before anyone in the country even owned a mobile phone, it’s a constant challenge to manage information and activity in a way that reflects our changing communication landscape. Aisling Byrne of Cleaver Fulton Rankin led an engrossing discussion on legal issues surrounding social media and employment law, and as knowledgeable as the keynote speakers were at this event, there are some subjects that will always produce more questions than answers.
A clear message running through the three day event was that the country is open for business, and with the excellent support of Invest Northern Ireland, this has spanned inward investment and targeted exporting. And no one is more aware of the importance of precise communication than the professionals in attendance in Belfast last week.
Legal communication between languages also means communication between legal systems. Words and terms that are core tenets of one system may not even exist in another. How do we navigate the challenges of a cross-border merger or multi-jurisdiction litigation?
Whether you’re investing, exporting or litigating, professional linguists will take you safely from A to B. That common understanding was one of the many things Belfast’s lawyers and their counterparts across the continent shared last week.
Is the future bright for this vibrant young country? The answer is yes. Precisely yes, in any language.
Northern Ireland is finding its place in the world. And it’s funding its place in the world.