The Annual Global IIBN Conference has become, in just 4 years, the premier date in the Irish International Business Networking calendar. Having previously taken place in Dublin and London, 2014 marks the first occasion of it taking place in New York. It is a fitting setting for the event, in a city with such a strong link with all things Irish. There will be 55 speakers, 300 delegates and 11 core sector discussions taking place in keynote presentations and panel discussions throughout the event. Central to the conference will be exploring the business links between the US and Ireland and how to build on these for the future. With over 1,000 overseas companies having operations in Ireland, and a large percentage of these being from the US, this conference is an opportunity to hear from business leaders in FDI, Venture Capital, Aviation, Design and Education.

Having such a volume of trade between Ireland and the US requires a lot of support services, in particular in the legal sector. One Irish law firm, Matheson has been doing this in the US, from their US base in Silicon Valley since 1996. Incidentally Matheson were the first European law firm to open an office in the Valley and they have the largest operations of any Irish law firm in the US. As part of our coverage to promote the conference IrishCentral caught up with Matheson’s Head of US Offices, John Ryan, who offered us some of his insights on the US Ireland relationship. 

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Can you tell me about some of the work that firms like Matheson engage in between New York and Ireland?

Matheson’s primary focus is on serving the Irish legal needs of international companies and financial institutions doing business in and through Ireland. Over 1,000 international companies have operations in Ireland. These are involved in a wide range of sectors, including technology, pharmaceuticals, biosciences, financial services and manufacturing. The majority of these are US companies. The business links between Ireland and the US are growing stronger and deeper all the time. Ireland continues to be seen by US businesses as one of the most attractive entry points into the EU market.

Why is Ireland a good place to do business and what is the message that you tell prospective clients (about the US/Ireland relationship specifically)?

Ireland is the ideal gateway jurisdiction to the EU’s common market of 500 million people for US companies. Ireland is a business-friendly country with a very similar legal and work culture to the US.

Ireland emerged from the financial crisis more competitive and business-focused than ever: Ireland grabbed the top spot in the Forbes listing of the best countries for business 2013. Forbes measured countries using 11 different factors such as investor protection, tax burden and red tape and found that Ireland was the only one to rank in the top 15% of each. Ireland’s well-educated, flexible and English-speaking workforce, quite apart from its competitive corporate tax system, were amongst the main draws for international investors.

The attraction of Ireland as an investment location is down to the consistently positive approach of successive Irish Governments in promoting inward investment. Another key factor is its membership of the EU and the availability of a skilled mobile labour pool. The strong cultural and historic ties between the US and Ireland are also important: US investors in Ireland feel at home there.

How long have you been working in the US for?

I’ve been in the US since 2011 and I’ve greatly enjoyed my time living in New York. Matheson has the largest US presence of any Irish law firm, with a senior team of Irish tax, finance, corporate and investment funds lawyers based in our offices in Silicon Valley and New York. We have had a presence in the US since 1996, when we were the first European law firm to open an office in Silicon Valley.