Holding court on the business of law


‘AH YOU’RE enjoying the view,” says Emer Gilvarry as she enters a meeting room on the sixth floor of Mason Hayes Curran’s impressive glass-clad building on Barrow Street in Dublin.

It’s a sunny Friday morning and the view is indeed impressive. The office overlooks Grand Canal Dock, where a number of quaint barges are tied up and some people are splashing about in kayaks.

The Spire on O’Connell Street glimmers in the distance on the right, while the Aviva Stadium dominates the view on the other side of the building.

Look hard enough and you might see Croke Park, where Gilvarry, managing partner of the firm, has booked her seat this Sunday for the All Ireland football joust between Donegal and her beloved Mayo.

She can’t wait. Sam is within touching distance after a 61-year wait that has seen its fair share of false dawns for the county. Emer’s father, Dr Joe Gilvarry, was a member of the Mayo team that brought home the bacon in 1950 and 1951.

He’s something of a legend in Mayo, landing the winning scores the last time the county won Sam.

“A winning goal and a winning point in the ’51 final,” Gilvarry proudly states. “I have a YouTube piece on it that I’ve sent to some friends of mine over the last few days. It’s wonderful stuff.”

Dr Joe, a general practitioner, died in 2004 but the Gilvarry clan – Emer is one of seven children – will be out in force at Croker.

“I’m very nervous,” Gilvarry admits. “But we have some good young players. Here’s hoping.”

Gilvarry is quite the sports fan. Rory McIlroy and Brian O’Driscoll are among a small group she follows on Twitter.

“I follow a few people,” she says. “I don’t actively do it because I don’t have the time, but Twitter are clients and LinkedIn are clients, so you align yourself with your clients and try and understand what it is they do.”

Gilvarry is a keen rugby fan, helping out behind the scenes with fundraising for Connacht.

“Connacht are doing great now when you think where they were two years ago. We’re throwing shapes.”

She describes the funding efforts to bring Connacht to the next level as a professional team as a “work in progress”.

“We’ll be looking to move from the Sportsground or upgrade the Sportsground and we’re investing in players. That’s what the business model is.”

Her father captained Blackrock’s 1942 senior schools cup winning team and played for Leinster schools. He also played for Connacht but not under his own name.

“There was a [GAA] ban ”

Gilvarry says there is increased activity in distressed assets, which is evidenced by the Gordon Brothers takeover this week of Dublin retailer Clerys.

She is more cheery than most about the prospects of economic growth over the next few years.

“We see enquiries into the market and we see [due] diligence being done. I think distressed assets will be a feature of 2013 because Nama is starting to put assets on the market and people have an interest.

“During the course of last year, we had a lot of private equity groups from the US coming to look at our distressed assets and then they went back home. They’re back in the market and tiptoeing around the place and I do think things will start happening.”

Gilvarry also echoes IDA chief Barry O’Leary’s view that there’s a shortage of quality office space in Dublin, which could hold back the economy.

“It could be a large space for Mason Hayes Curran to look at in due course. We’re here in Barrow Street since 2006. It’s a wonderful hub to be. We have Google up the street. But we’re running out of space.”

Whether Gilvarry leads that process remains to be seen. She’s roughly half way through her second term as managing partner, which will expire in 2014.

Is this her last lap of Barrow Street?

Like any lawyer, Gilvarry weighs up her answer very carefully, working out the angles before delivering her reply.

“Two terms as a managing partner is enough. You should not be defined by your role as managing partner. In the Mason Hayes Curran way, to be innovative, it’s probably time to pass on the baton.”

That sounds like a yes, but it also probably keeps the other partners guessing slightly.

We finish up with some sandwiches and tea before Gilvarry asks if there’s anything else I need for the piece.

“Just your profit figure,” says I chancing my arm.

“Ha, ha, ha. Eh, no. When others start publishing numbers I will look to that then. I think it will happen.”

Friday Interview

Name: Emer Gilvarry

Job: Managing partner, Mason Hayes Curran

Age: 55

Lives: Blackrock, Co Dublin

Family: Married to Patrick Buckley with two children, Elizabeth and Joseph

Hobbies: Reading, Mayo GAA and Connacht rugby

Something you might expect:“I’m very passionate about what I do in terms of my work.”

Something that might surprise:“I’m a big Mayo supporter. A lot of people wouldn’t realise that about me because I’m quite private.”

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