‘Get up early to get there first is still a guiding principle in my life

  • ‘Get up early to get there first is still a guiding principle in my life
    Independent.t. E.
    Veteran attorney Joe Sweeney advised some of the largest and oldest family firms not many years, but for many years. He went from what it was in 2009, Eversheds O’donnell Sweeney after a brush with bad health, but after a period as a consultant and Advisor, he returned to legal practice in 2011, setting j R Sweeney & Co.

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Veteran attorney Joe Sweeney advised some of the largest and oldest family firms not many years, but for many years. He went from what it was in 2009, Eversheds O’donnell Sweeney after a brush with bad health, but after a period as a consultant and Advisor, he returned to legal practice in 2011, setting j R Sweeney & Co.

Now, Eversheds Ireland is one of the largest firms in the country, and thanks to their belonging to the London Eversheds, has a global reach.

With nine employees, of Dublin-based j R Sweeney & Co is much less the case, but Sweeney says it was the right Size to serve a list of clients, which in some cases he worked with four decades and several generations.

“You give an entirely different service than what large law firms will give very attentive service.

“When it comes to law firms – the same rules apply whether you are a small, medium or large – most importantly, to invest in the TOP class people to work with you. You should invest in a practice is a business that you know best – and not to invest in outside enterprises and, above all, care about the customer”.

Successfully operating as a small firm with clients at a high level, so be realistic about services that can be provided.

“It’s important for small law firms to recognize the limitations. You can only provide a limited range of services,” he says.

“You won’t have the numbers as small and medium-sized Law firm that provides all the specialized services that large firms generally do, but the bigger firms will always be happy to join with You in significant transactions,” he says.

He cites the example of a major merger or acquisition work that requires comprehensive tax or intellectual property that can be transferred to the firms with these specialties.

They key, knowing that the client and firm good enough to take on this role for them, he says, although he adds that it also means extensive investment in technology to be able to match the level of speed and documents required at the top of the industry.

“A private person who owns a great business and that is focused on a big deal should spend my time management that the Internet in General – but they can count on a reliable lawyer drive to the service to support them.”

This is not duplication – it should mean greater efficiency, he believes.

“One who knows, entrepreneurs and their business is closely saves the customer a lot of grief – you know, knowing your customer, knowing your business and provide reliable, independent advice,” he says.

It is delivered with enthusiasm, but he is realistic that many people believe lawyers are, at best, a necessary evil.

“People generally have great respect for their lawyer, they do not appreciate the legal profession.”

Galway man coy about naming customers, but he was a Director of a number that now significant firms, as they grew up, including James Murphy Lifes2Good, which last year sold its roller hair part for €150 million, as well as sports lines Elverys.

Sweeney and his long-time legal partner Rory O’donnell joined the firm in the mid-1990s and went on to build what is now one of the largest law firms.

By doing this, and walked away from the business in his 60’s, again in practice, zero was not the initial plan Sweeney.

“Between 2006 and 2008 I have the second and third stages of melanoma and decided to change the pace, become a consultant, but not necessarily… it could not be a good idea because you dragged back to the firm, or return to the same job with the same pressure and all,” he says.

“In the end I just decided that it is more practical to develop a small law firm, but focused exclusively on the private client and owner managed segment”. Those that are owned by the Irish, often the family business was always the center of attention, Sweeney, ‘ he says.

The office is located in the leafy Ballsbridge district of Dublin, steps from the RDS where some of his clients to look at horses this week. It’s the local clientele, I ask – is where much of the wealth of Ireland ends?

He chuckles at the suggestion.

“It’s all over the country. We have many customers that have been with me for over 40 years,” he says.

During this time, a Sweeney moved from a practice in the city of Limerick to Dublin in the late 1980s, later forming a partnership with O’donnell and later, London-legal giant Eversheds.

The first step of the Limerick was to follow customers. A clutch of companies from the region have expanded in the capital and found that it is becoming a big part of their business.

Instead of seeing some of its best customers outgrow it, Sweeney is expanding along with them, live with them in some cases as their national and international.

“When we opened an office in Dublin in 1987, we found technology was a huge driver,

“We were the first van OI in legal practice in Ireland and a dedicated telephone line between Limerick and Dublin, which gave us a great advantage.”

Practice subsequent increase in scale by merging to form O’donnell-Sweeney.

“Practice Rory was very similar, he was a private client and the owners of the business focused,” he says.

In Eversheds the connection was different, with Irish business striking a franchise agreement, due to personal relations between the partners.

“I had a great shooting friend – Cornelius Medvei – he was a senior partner, Eversheds in London and this proposal came from us, so we can take the franchise, which I thought was a very good idea and that there with you.”

It’s weird, I wonder, to customer service over a long period through different entities? “It’s very inconvenient for them and for me it’s not awkward,” he says simply.

“I decided to return to private practice, concentrating on private clients and companies, because they have special needs,” he says.

“Sometimes they can be well served by large law firms, but I do believe that if private clients and businesses managed by the owner of a good lawyer, a lawyer and a trusted accountant – this can be very valuable.”

He pays particular attention to the critical moments for business – whether to buy or sell, and perhaps most difficult of all, the passing of control through generations. Grounds for entrepreneurs, that combination of family and business dynamics creates a big problem that Sweeney has seen play many times for many years.

The reality can be very tough on the human level.

“The skills of the entrepreneur may not transfer to the next generation. The first question that needs to decide whether the family will be able to manage the business.

“There are some families where some but not all members could continue the business and there are several families who will be able to continue the work, and then it makes sense to sell the business,” he says.

If the transfer of the business from the founders to their own children is hard, successfully passing the family business through succeeding generations is even harder.

“This is a very rare family business that will pass through two generations,” he says. If this happens, this means that eventually occurs on one side of the family,” he says.

“I have 40 plus years of practice I have seen many businesses faced with these difficulties”.

Another big problem he sees in front of customers over the last decade, Finance – increasing levels of debt before the crash and the subsequent scramble to get out from under him.

Even now, with the accident and recovery were apparently in full swing, Sweeney believes that the banking system remains dysfunctional, and fears, in particular, the lack of a dedicated, relationship-based, the lenders of the commercial sector.

“We have no merchant banks or industrial banks. We could with the ICC (the former industrial credit Corporation) in the business,” he says.

Major banks, says he became too obsessed with security, massively broke away from business lending during the accident.

As a person whose attention is focused on the business in the long term, Sweeney does not see the new class of the loan as a reliable alternative.

“Venture capital funds focused on secured lending – they lend, but they pick up assets and lend against them. It would concern me because of the price they are charging anywhere between 8pcs and 12 PCs interest rates on short-term loans. They provide services very popular, but in the end they should be replaced on a regular banking company – and there is a huge shortage of regular banking services,” he says.

Property, including U.S. private investment funds that bought the loans secured is a great attention for domestic companies, he says.

“What do you find that many businesses and individuals purchase the assets of the vulture funds, but with a high rate of money.

“On the plus side, they get a huge debt right down, if the assets are good as you can turn them around and thus leave expensive borrowing.”

While the debt service costs remain high, which produces the company benefits, but it helps some firms to recover from the effects of the financial crisis, he says.

In a broader sense, he sees the economy, and Dublin in particular, in the reconstruction.

“This, of course, times have changed. The value of the property to return, and it makes people feel much more secure in their homes and in their investments.”

Where does that leave your firm?

“At 67, I’m happy with the two Junior partners and young team, and I like to watch as the business grows. There are ambitious plans on business development. Grew up in Athenry, I learned the expression: ‘you have to get up early to get to Agree guys.

“It was in terms of shooting, but the principle, and still guide my life.”

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