Ireland: ‘If You Need Some Time To Figure Out The Answer, Say So’
Last Updated: 22 September 2017

Pat English is head of Matheson's International Business Group and co-head of the firm's US Business and Inward Investment Groups. Matheson is headquartered in Dublin with a British office in London and US offices in New York, Palo Alto and San Francisco.

The firm employs more than 650 people, including 80 partners and tax principals and more than 350 legal and tax professionals. English works primarily with international clients seeking to do business in Ireland and advises companies establishing operations here. His areas of expertise include international corporate reorganisations, pre-and post-integration transactions and cross-border mergers.

Are you where you expected to be in your career?

I can't say I ever really had a "plan" as such. I qualified as a solicitor in January 2004. I arrived at Matheson as a 20-year-old intern in 1998 with very little exposure to the realities of life in a large commercial business, let alone a law firm.

I just put the head down and tried to learn as much as I could from that point forward. Nearly 20 years later, I have travelled pretty much the full journey at the firm, from intern to trainee, trainee to solicitor, solicitor to associate, associate to partner, and partner to group head.

I am also lucky enough to have spent time as the firm's resident counsel and head of our US office in New York from 2009 to 2011. In addition to my role as head of the International Business Group, I also continue in my role as co-head of the firm's US business and inward investment groups, and spend a number of weeks a year in that context in the US and Europe visiting clients and referring law firms in particular.

What was the best career advice you got along the way?

One piece of advice that has always stuck with me came from Liam Quirke, former managing partner and now chairman of the firm, but then simply "the boss" when I was his trainee in the tax group in the early 2000s. "Clients want advice, not information" was his mantra and that is something which all lawyers would do well to remember in every engagement with their clients. Somewhat related to that, don't forget that we are in the solutions business.

Proud as you might be at the beautiful expression you have used in describing in detail the problem, the key piece of the interaction with the client is the solution. When a client comes asking whether his or her suggested approach to a particular issue works, if you believe it doesn't, then say so, respectfully and briefly, before outlining an approach that would work to get them to where they want to go.

When dealing with clients, start with the answer. If you don't have the answer, don't be afraid to say so. Given the pace at which everyone works these days and the instant nature of communication, there can be a tendency to panic if the answer can't be delivered instantly.

Good advice is always better than bad advice or no advice and if you need to take some time to figure out the answer and then give the advice based on that answer, then say so.

Based on your own experience, what are your top career tips?

Learn the trade. I remember one time a few years back being in a taxi leaving Logan Airport in Boston where the city was doing extensive – and by all accounts endless – works on the tunnel connecting the airport to the city. There on a billboard was the expression "Rome wasn't built in a day" followed by something along the lines of "because if it was, we'd have hired their contractors".

Going through the process of qualifying as a lawyer and then building up a bank of knowledge, but more importantly experience and judgment, takes time, and much as we are all now always in a rush to do everything, some things just take time.

How would you define your work style, and how has this evolved over the years?

I would like to think that I have a relatively calm and relaxed manner and that I bring a pragmatic and practical approach to advising clients and dealing with people. I am not afraid to express a view or to countenance various alternative approaches to complex issues and I certainly could never be accused, I hope, of taking myself too seriously.

Above all else, I try to keep it as simple as possible. That combination has certainly served me well in my relationships with clients and colleagues alike over the years. Don't, however, expect of any that if you see me in Croke Park if Cork are involved in proceedings.

In terms of managing teams and individuals, what are your insights?

Treat people with respect and like adults at all times. Collaborate. I am very fortunate to be working with incredibly talented people; to not work collaboratively with each other in this kind of environment and in the process to miss the opportunities that such collaboration can bring is a real sin.

Look after your people and lead by example. Be available for consults with your people when they need your input and be prepared to get (back) into the gritty detail in the trenches in individual transactions as and when required. That is often the fun bit.

Be genuine. You can't expect to build up mutual relationships of trust and confidence without being genuine.

What about communication and negotiating the typical ups and downs of working life?

Communication is obviously critical, but even more so clarity in that communication. You have to understand what you are asking for on the one hand but on the other, you also absolutely need to understand what you are being asked to do, whether it be in an interaction with a colleague or a client.

I have always tried to instil in our trainees in particular the philosophy of making sure you never leave a room having been asked to do something by someone without absolutely understanding what in fact it is that you are being asked to do. The icing on the cake comes where you see people building on that by coming back with follow-up questions which then elicit the instructing questions from colleagues (and later clients) which perhaps we and they should have been asking in the first instance.

Has networking played an important part in your career?

Networking is absolutely critical in our business. Very often, the word "networking" connotes cocktail parties and corporate events which are all well and good but effective networking (and related marketing) in my experience means targeted or focused marketing.

More particularly, start with your own clients and treat them as the crown jewels. Too often, people can spend all their time chasing prospects while forgetting to look after their own existing clients who should be the bedrock of any business such as ours where repeat business is so critical in the first instance.

If you had to choose another career tomorrow, what would it be?

If I could devise a solution (that I could then monetise) to simultaneously resolve the problems of too little time in the day and the chaos of Dublin's traffic, I would retire in due course a very happy and perhaps wealthy man.

Published in the Sunday Business Post on 17 September 2017.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Press Releases from this Firm
Recent Content from this Firm
By Claire McLoughlin, Karen Reynolds
By Deirdre Kilroy
By Helen Kelly
By Tara Doyle, Michael Jackson, Dualta Counihan, Anne-Marie Bohan, Shay Lydon, Liam Collins, Philip Lovegrove, Elizabeth Grace, Oisin McClenaghan, Michelle Ridge, Barry O'Connor, Donal O’Byrne
By Karen Reynolds, Claire McLoughlin
By Julie Murphy-O'Connor, Gearóid Carey
By Joe Beashel, Louise Dobbyn
By John Ryan
By Fergus Bolster
By Kate McKenna
Font Size:
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions