Overall winners McCarthy & Co set the bar high for future awards

Once again, this year’s gongs showcased the immense talent, achievements and innovation in the Irish law sector

Left to right: Richard Hammond SC, Chairperson of the Irish Law Awards Judging Panel, team from McCarthy & Co LLP Solicitors, and Stephen Keogh, Director, Dye & Durham

The Irish legal sector continues to impress in terms of quality and innovation, as evidenced in the 2024 Dye & Durham Irish Law Awards, which aims to identify, honour and publicise outstanding achievements in the sector, while also recognising those who have dedicated their lives to serving in the legal profession.

This year’s awards ceremony was held at the Convention Centre in Dublin on June 14, and recognised a number of leading companies and individuals in the sector, each of whom exemplified the highest standards of practice and professionalism in legal services.

The overall Law Firm of the Year Award was presented to McCarthy and Co Solicitors LLP for their exceptional contributions to the legal field. Other law firms recognised, in the regional category, included Alastair Purdy & Co (Connacht/Ulster), Dentons Ireland (Dublin) and Susan Webster & Company (Leinster).

Martina Winters, the sales and marketing manager for the awards sponsor Dye & Durham, commented that the standard just kept rising every year.

“Every year, the quality of law firms is growing, showing Ireland’s legal community is thriving with talent and dedication. The remarkable achievements at the awards truly set a high standard for future awards, and we’re proud to support and celebrate such outstanding legal professionals and firms.”

This is the third consecutive year that Dye & Durham has sponsored the awards. “Our involvement fits well because we provide essential solutions that make legal work easier and more productive,” said Winters. “By investing in this sector, we help ensure that legal professionals have both the technology and recognition they need to do their essential and often challenging work.

“Sponsoring the awards also helps us connect on a higher level with the legal community, allowing us to understand their needs even better, so we grow and innovate together to meet their evolving challenges. It also helps remind everyone of our unified brand, Dye & Durham, which combines the trusted services of Keyhouse, Rochford Brady, Brady & Co, and Hibernian Legal.”

Richard Hammond SC, Chairperson of the Irish Law Awards Judging Panel presenting the Pro Bono Publico/Community Law Firm/Lawyer of the Year award to the Irish Refugee Council Independent Law Centre with Ivan Yeats.

Each nominee undergoes a rigorous selection process that includes two rounds of online judging by an esteemed panel of judges. Nominees are rigorously judged against the predefined criteria, emphasising excellence, innovation and noteworthy achievements. Then the judging panel convenes in person to deliberate and discuss the merits of each nominee, leading to the announcement of finalists and, ultimately, the winners of the awards.

This detailed and rigorous process ensures that every finalist and winner gets the recognition that they so richly deserve.

“One particular entrant that stood out for me was Ishaq Alam, Ishaq & Co Solicitors, who won the Sole Practitioner of the Year Award for Munster,” said Winters.

“His sheer dedication to his clients was truly remarkable, as was his heartfelt gratitude to his wife for all her support. He kept repeating that the award was for his wife which I felt was particularly touching and brought a tear to my eye. He was also very appreciative of being part of the awards ceremony and for his life in Ireland. A remarkable gentleman.”

Another standout winner was the Irish Refugee Council Independent Law Centre, which won the Pro Bono Publico/Community Law Firm/Lawyer of the Year Award, recognising the vital role the centre plays in meeting the legal needs of people seeking international protection in Ireland. The award also reflects some of the great results the centre has achieved over the past year.

“From January 2023, when the government stopped accommodating single men on arrival, our Independent Law Centre sought accommodation on behalf of 550 men and challenged the state’s failure to offer reception conditions in respect of ten of them,” commented Katie Mannion, managing solicitor for Irish Refugee Council Independent Law Centre.

“The High Court heard two of our Law Centre’s clients as test cases. In SY, Mr Justice Meenan concluded that, by failing to provide accommodation, food and basic hygiene facilities, the minister had not only breached his duties under the Reception Conditions Regulations, but had also breached the young man’s Right to Human Dignity under the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

Our Law Centre represents those with particular vulnerabilities, including age-disputed minors, and people with illnesses

“Despite this judgment, since December 4, 2023, 3,580 men who applied for international protection were not offered accommodation, and 2,136 continue to await an offer of accommodation.

“While most can access a payment of €113.80 per week, it is not adequate to book into a private hostel, and many are sleeping rough. We are supporting those men by providing information and advice clinics and advocating that they be accommodated. Our Law Centre represents those with particular vulnerabilities, including age-disputed minors, and people with illnesses.

“Additionally, our team continually advocates for improved procedures for age-disputed unaccompanied minors, and has represented individual age-disputed minors in being recognised as children.”