The Ireland Program was initiated five years ago through the vision of then-President Tom Girardi, and under the stewardship of Patrick McGroder, to create a prototype for international programs in addition to the Academy’s highly successful China Program. From these beginnings, The Ireland Program has grown and flourished into an officially recognized program of the International Academy of Trial Lawyers.
Due to the division of the island of Ireland into Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, there are two separate organizations of barristers (known as “Bars”). Between the two Bars, they represent the last major jurisdictions in Europe where the common law applies. The Ireland Program has built a bridge between the United States, as the world’s greatest common law jurisdiction, and the last two major common law jurisdictions in Europe.
The mission statement of the Academy’s Ireland Program includes the following ideals:
To establish firm links between the Academy and its Members and the Barristers of Ireland and Northern Ireland;
To provide the most promising young Barristers from both parts of Ireland with the chance to experience the professional and family life of a successful United States trial lawyer, as well as the opportunity to gain the legal inspiration and fellowship of an Academy meeting;
To recognize the importance of promoting the Rule of Law in the respective countries on the island of Ireland, and to help build lasting understanding, tolerance and mutual respect between the people of the Northern and Southern Ireland;
- To endorse the survival of the common law in a European Union which is predominantly influenced by the civil law and to encourage the trial lawyers in those jurisdictions to promote the benefits of oral advocacy and trial by jury.
The success of the Ireland Program is directly due to the efforts of two of our IATL fellows: Paul Sreenan of Dublin, Ireland and Michael Stitt of Belfast, Northern Ireland. Paul and Michael have championed the Program since its inception, and are responsible for the selection of delegates from their respective Bars. Those delegates then travel to the United States and are matched to an Academy Fellow who hosts the delegate for approximately 7 days prior to the Academy’s annual meeting, at which the delegates and their host participate.
The Ireland Program has been marked with a number of significant metrics:
Rapprochement of the Barristers of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland;
The exposure of some of Ireland’s best and brightest young Barristers to the American civil and criminal justice systems through the efforts of their IATL hosts;
The induction of a number of new Fellows from the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland;
- Closer ties between the Academy and the Bar Libraries of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, including CLE exchange programs.
The Ireland Program has emerged as a dynamic, vibrant and substantive program; advancing the strong bond between the Academy and the respective Bar Libraries of both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.