This week in our MHC Life series, we speak to Regulatory Senior Associate, James Gallagher. James tells us about his journey to MHC, his book recommendations and his love for swimming!
Tell us a bit about you and your career journey to MHC – what inspired you to get into this career?
After I left school, I studied business and politics in college and quickly became interested in the more legal side of those subjects. My politics lecturers would tell me that my assignments read more like law essays and on the business side I learned early on that I was never going to make it as a forensic accountant or any type of accountant for that matter! I studied law as a postgraduate and began my legal career as a barrister, gaining great experience in those early years running frantically between motion lists on a Monday morning and appearing on behalf of clients in all sorts of matters. As time went on I became increasingly drawn to the solicitor side of the profession and a stint working on an in-house project in MHC was actually one of the factors that led to my decision to then become a solicitor.
After leaving the Bar I worked for 5 years in a Dublin firm specialising in healthcare regulatory law. During that time, I also completed a masters in food regulation which was something that I had become interested in as a very nerdy outgrowth of my love of food and cooking. Meanwhile the firm I was working in merged with a large pan-European firm and I began working on more food, life sciences and general product regulatory matters alongside specialist teams based in the UK. That ultimately led to the opportunity to join MHC as part of the first dedicated team doing this type of work in Ireland which is very exciting to be involved in.
Favourite thing about your role?
Given all the different types of products that we work on, every matter is a new puzzle that needs to be broken down and solved with practical advice for the client. That variety along with the constant challenge of making the complicated simple is something that I really enjoy. We also do a lot of work involving products that are at the cutting edge of areas like digital health, pharmaceuticals, food supplements and consumer tech, so it can be very interesting learning about where these industries are headed and how they will be regulated in the future.
Talk us through a typical day for you during the COVID-19 pandemic…
I am usually up early and like to get outside for a short run which I always find sets me up well for the rest of the day spent indoors. When I sit down at the desk I try to ‘eat the frog’ according to Mark Twain and tackle anything particular knotty or time consuming first. The team also has a morning zoom check-in three times a week where we run down our workstreams and mention anything on the horizon and generally catch up with one another. The day then varies a lot depending on whether we’re researching and drafting advices, video-conferencing with clients or working on business development initiatives, but I try to pause for a coffee mid-morning and get outside again for a short walk at lunch. In the evening, I usually take an hour or so out to have dinner and a play with our 18-month old son before putting him to bed. After that I will tie off any last emails and identify tomorrow’s frog before putting my phone away and unwinding a bit before bed. We are currently watching The Knick which is excellent.
What books have you read during lockdown?
I’ve been working my way through the Matthew Shardlake series by C.J Sansom, which are a set of historical crime novels set in Tudor England. Think Sherlock Holmes meets Wolf Hall.
What sports/hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy?
Before lockdown I enjoyed swimming and had great plans to train for a few longer distance open-water swimming events. I have barely been in the water in over 6 months now but am looking forward to the warmer water out in Seapoint and the re-opening of pools.
What's your idea of a perfect holiday/favourite place you've ever visited?
My wife Hannah and I have been talking about visiting the Amalfi Coast in Italy for years, so that is first up on the list when we manage to plan our next special trip away. Besides that I’m more of a city break person and really enjoyed our last pre-COVID getaway which was a long weekend eating and drinking our way around Copenhagen.