The Legal Profession in Troikaland: Before and After the Irish Bailout
43 Pages Posted: 8 May 2013 Last revised: 13 May 2013
Date Written: May 7, 2013
Ireland is feeling a chill wind of austerity emanating from the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. These institutions have combined within Irish political, economic and popular consciousness as ‘The Troika’. However the primary subject of this paper concerns an altogether different Troika, an ‘Unholy Trinity’ consisting of bankers, property developers and lawyers. It is argued herein that the combined activities of this Unholy Trinity caused the property bubble, the banking crisis and the subsequent economic collapse of the Irish state.
This paper focuses upon the activities of lawyers during the Celtic Tiger years, but more especially upon one lawyer, Michael Lynn. Whilst the roles of bankers and property developers have been extensively documented when exploring the causes of Ireland’s economic catastrophe, the role of lawyers has received considerably less attention. This paper seeks to correct the current discursive imbalance. Kitchen et al have documented the phenomenon of ‘new ruins’ in Ireland, and the concept is used herein to illustrate the legacy of the Unholy Trinity, and in particular, that of Michael Lynn.
Firstly, the paper outlines the ‘Unholy Trinity’ hypothesis postulating the existence of a tripartite grouping of social actors behind the Irish economic collapse. It then presents a case study of Michael Lynn, solicitor, whose activities gave rise to two unprecedented hearings before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal in 2008. Next, the paper examines the failings of the legal regulatory system which allowed Michael Lynn to manipulate it so successfully.
The paper also considers the Legal Services Regulation Bill (LSRB) 2011, which contains the changes to the legal profession sought by the Troika in return for the Bailout funds. It provides for the establishment of new bodies to oversee the regulation of legal services, disciplinary matters and costs disputes. It also provides for the possible fusion of both branches of the profession (solicitors and barristers), the potential introduction of multi-disciplinary practices and the end of self-regulation. However the Bill has succeeded in uniting the profession in its opposition to it, as it is perceived as a threat to the independence of the profession. Finally, the paper considers whether the LSRB 2011 is sufficient to give Irish consumers the quality of legal services to which they are entitled, or whether they will be subjected to ongoing systemic failures in the market for legal services.
Keywords: Troika, bailout, legal, profession economy, property developer
JEL Classification: A12, A14, H00, H10, H40, J43, K00, K19, K20, L23, L50, M20, N40, O52
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation