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American lawyer hoping to live and practice law in Ireland - please advise

  • 02-09-2016 8:11am
    Registered Users Posts: 2 USLawTalkinGuy

    Hi everyone,

    I'm looking for advice on moving indefinitely from the U.S. to Ireland, preferably to Co. Dublin., in the next 9+ months. I posted my question on another site and someone recommended I post here, too, especially since some of my questions relate to practicing law in Ireland.

    I am a lawyer and licensed in California, where I currently practice. During law school, I studied abroad in Dublin and fell in love with the place. The history, the culture, the people, everything--other than the buses not keeping to schedules, I don't think there was anything I didn't really like. I got out into the countryside (Kerry), went to some other places on the island (Cork and Limerick) and just really enjoyed it.

    Ever since I returned, I've had my mind set on returning to Ireland, this time to live for an indefinite period of time. Due to finances, I haven't had the money to return since studying abroad but I keep in touch with many of the friends I made there.

    Fortunately, I recently got a job with a law firm that pays well, so I hope to venture back over there to visit in the next few months. (I hear the off-season is much cheaper anyway.) As a result, I'm now in a position where I can actually make my goal a reality.

    I mainly mention that I'm a lawyer because, due to a reciprocity agreement that Ireland has with California, I will be eligible to sit for the Irish Bar Exam/Transfer Test (the QLTT) after a year of practicing here. That gives me about 9 months minimum to prepare, including getting any visa/residency applications filled out and submitted. (I'm not sure how the Irish immigration system works, but I know that here in the U.S. it can take several months or years to even get the ball moving on your application, so I'd like to get it underway as soon as possible.)

    My desire would be to find a job with an American law firm's Irish office or an Irish law firm that works with American businesses, so I would be a valuable asset in understanding both jurisdictions' laws and legal systems. I understand that law firms in Ireland likely pay less than I could earn in the U.S., but I'm still somewhat young (early 30s, no wife/girlfriend or kids) that I wouldn't mind that for at least a few years, especially since the cost of living would likely be lower as well (especially compared to California).

    I also mention that I'm a lawyer because, according to the Irish Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, "Legal Associate Professionals" are listed on the Ineligible Categories of Employment list. I'm not sure if that category includes lawyers or is restricted to other law-related professions like paralegal, law clerk, or similar types of work, but I'm thinking it might. (The person who directed me here said that probably just meant law clerks/court clerks, so maybe I'm okay. I hope so!)

    Because of this, I'm not sure if that means that I'd have to change jobs or even careers if I wanted to move to Ireland. At the same time, it seems strange to me that Ireland would have a reciprocity agreement with the U.S. such that American lawyers can take the Irish Bar Exam to practice law in Ireland but couldn't actually live in Ireland to do so. But I digress...

    - Is the DJEI list the end-all-be-all in that my goal is dead before I pick up an application, or is it still possible for me to work in Ireland as a lawyer?

    - Should I hire an Irish immigration lawyer for assistance with this and, if so, how much would that likely cost? (I've reached out to a few immigration lawyers in Ireland that I found on the internet but never received a response from any of them.) Also, is there a useful resource for finding an Irish immigration lawyer rather than googling it?

    - What's the Irish visa/residency application like and what kind of information will I need to have available? (When I studied abroad, I had to go to Immigration and get an ID made because my stay was longer than 3 months. Other than that, the application was pretty simple.)

    - Any tips on getting through the process smoothly?

    - What should I know about the job market (legal, if possible) and economy in Ireland that could potentially create issues for me within the next year?

    - Best suggestions for moving my possessions overseas without breaking the bank? I don't have much in the way of furniture or anything like that, so I was just thinking to ship a couple boxes of important stuff and buy what I need when I get there. I can store my remaining things in storage until I decide to have it shipped over or just have it all sold or picked up by my family for safekeeping (e.g., childhood stuff).

    Thank you very much for any help you can give!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 6,087 Pro Hoc Vice

    You ask a lot. And specific advice can not be given on the forum. But just some general observations.

    Ireland is a very difficult country to get a working permission in. As a USA you are allowed to enter Ireland visa free and so you will be able to sit the QLTT. Possibly the best way to follow your dream is to find a large company in US who has an Irish operation or a multinational with a legal office and get a inter company transfer.

    Another option are you through any family member entitled to a passport of any EEA member state, if you are then you just get that passport and away you go, you would be surprised how many people are so entitled.

    The department of Jobs are pretty easy to deal with but be advised, my understanding is lawyers are an excluded catagorie. In any event the jobs market is very difficult in Ireland for Newley qualified.

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 631 Kings Inns or bust

    I'm afraid I can't speak to some of the more technical points, but I hope to be informative on some practical ones.

    Personal FX - just bring a suitcase, you'll initially want to rent a room. Dublin has an accommodation crisis at the moment. Remotely trying to get a room will be hard, trying to line up an apartment at best will be impossible, at worst will see you scammed. Get in situ for a few months and then do it. Good places to rent if you can find a room are along the Northside suburbs on the DART line. Expect to pay around €500-750 per month depending on the size of room and what's included.

    A one bed apartment on the Quays (handy for the courts/law firms) will set you back about €1200 per month. If you want a bit of room 2 beds will be anywhere from €1750 in less desirable parts of the city.

    Due to Brexit and the recent decision Re Apple the Irish economy is very uncertain at the moment, keep your options open re staying.

    Other than that best of luck with it!

  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 1,141 Stealthfins

    There's a lack of family law solicitors in the west of Ireland.
    If that's your area you may find something.
    I know you'd prefer Dublin but the lifestyle on the west is more laid back.

  • Registered Users Posts: 23,725 ✭✭✭✭ Mrs OBumble

    Do you have some way of qualifying for an Irish passport (eg an Irish parent or grandparent)? Or any other EU passport?

    Without that, I think your only option is to work for a firm which has a need to transfer you to Ireland.

    The only other legal way for a US citizen to get a work visa is to be offer a job which no one in all of the EU is available to do. That's pretty unlikely.

    Or to marry an Irish or EU citizen.

    Don'f feel special, it's equally difficult for an Irish citizen to get the right to live in the US.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2 USLawTalkinGuy

    Thanks everyone, I appreciate the responses!

    Working backward:
    Great-great-grandparents were from Ireland, but not grandparents/parents, unfortunately. Same with EU citizenship (have gg-grandparents from Luxembourg, but their citizenship requirements are tighter). Marriage may eventually be a legitimate option (i.e., not a green card marriage), but first let's see how the next year goes.

    I'm actually interested to hear more about family law practice in Ireland. I practiced it for a while here then got away from it, but I'd love to hear how divorce law works over there since it's only been around for about 20 years. (I'm sure the Irish courts borrow from other common law jurisdictions, but still would be fun to learn.) Unless Ireland is significantly different from the US regarding family law (and it very well could be), I'm not too keen on practicing it there. It was an emotional rollercoaster and it was too easy to get burned out, hence why I left it.

    €1200 per month for a one-bedroom near the Quays actually is better than I expected, based on where I live now anyway. A one-bedroom near downtown Los Angeles can easily reach $2000+/mo. I'm on the outskirts, so my rent isn't as expensive as that, but it's probably close to about €1200. My salary would obviously play a role in that decision, but that's not terrible.

    I've been looking at firms and companies with Irish offices and plan to pursue those more as I get closer to qualifying. I may visit and take the QLTT, then try to decide what I plan to do while I wait for my results, especially if it involves moving to a firm that'll let me work out of their Irish office.

    Thank you again, everyone, and if anyone else has any comments, please feel free to chime in!

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  • Closed Accounts Posts: 631 Kings Inns or bust

    €1200 is going to get you something the size of the closets you're used to but if you're willing to adjust, happy days.

    Ireland's divorce laws are a rather hilarious, church driven constitutionally regulated (by the tiniest of margins!), farce. While I'm willing to make an argument for them being a 'bar to entry' who's really considering the possible break up. I'll say this - Family law is certainly interesting.

  • Registered Users Posts: 1 Lolalola3

    Hi USLawtalkinguy,

    Any update? I just read your post and I am in a similar position except that I do hold an Irish passport so working papers would not be an issue. I was in Ireland a few years ago for a 'Gathering' related family reunion and fell in love with the culture and the people.

    I am an attorney licensed in New York and Connecticut currently living in Austin Texas working as a commercial counsel at a large tech company. The job boards not terribly encouraging as most require Irish qualifications (of course) and anything else I can find is admin or support staff which wouldn't pay enough to still stay on top of my law school loans. The idea of going back to school to get qualified (and all the additional debts that would entail) is pretty daunting.

    Anyway, I'm curious if you were able to act on your plan and how it went. Any advice or insights on how to move, find a job and what adjustments you went through would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so much!

  • Registered Users Posts: 10,687 ✭✭✭✭ Samuel T. Cogley

    The accomodation situation hasn't got any better. If you want an apartment in Dublin budget about €1400 for a one bed.