This week in our MHC Life series, we speak to Regulatory Partner, James Gallagher. Jamie tells us about his journey to MHC, his book recommendations and his love of all things food!
Tell us a bit about you and your career journey to MHC – what inspired you to get into this career?
I studied business and politics in college and ended up realising that the legal aspects of those subjects were what interested me most. I think a legal career appealed to me because it seemed to involve developing this really interesting mix of academic and commercial skills that you can then apply in all sorts of different ways. I also liked the focus on use of language and effective communication. I studied law as a postgraduate and loved it from day one.
I worked as a barrister for the first few years of my career. I got great exposure to all sorts of different types of cases, and developed my public speaking skills by appearing in all sorts of motions and hearings, but as time went on I became more and more drawn to the idea of retraining as a solicitor. A stint working on an in-house project in MHC while still a barrister was actually one of the things that made me decide to just go for it.
After leaving the Bar I worked for 5 years in a Dublin firm specialising in healthcare regulatory law. During that time I also completed an MSc in food regulation which was something that I had become interested in as a combination of law and my love of food and cooking. Meanwhile the firm I was working in merged with a large pan-European firm and I began doing more food, life sciences and general product regulatory work 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 our clients. 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 on products that are at the cutting edge in areas like digital health, pharmaceuticals, food and consumer tech, so there is rarely a fully settled way of approaching a lot of the regulatory questions we tackle. It can be very rewarding when you untangle a complicated issue and find a practical and sometimes creative solution for a client.
Talk us through a typical day for you during the COVID-19 pandemic…
I am usually up very early and like to get out for a run or to the gym first thing. We have two boys, a 2 year old and a 6 month old, who are waking up by the time I get back so our mornings can be a bit chaotic from there on out! I still try to get started at the desk early and there’s usually something knotty that I like to try and get out of the way as a priority before then getting into emails and calls. The team has a morning zoom check-in three times a week where we run through what we have on and generally catch up with one another. The rest of the day varies a lot depending on whether we’re researching and drafting advices, video-conferencing with clients or working on business development projects. I usually take an hour or two out to have dinner and play with the boys before their bedtime (chaotic also!). After they are down, I look at anything I didn’t get to during the day workwise and note down any reminders and to-dos for the morning.
What books have you read during lockdown?
I got through The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff which was super thought provoking. I’ve also been reading a lot about AI. Artificial Intelligence: A Guide for Thinking Humans by Melanie Mitchell and The Road to Conscious Machines: The Story of AI by Michael Wooldridge are really useful introductions to the area for anyone without a background in computing. MIT University Press also has some really good primers on things like cloud computing and the Internet of Things that I would recommend. Other than that I’ve been working my way through Benjamin Black’s Quirke series, a brilliant set of crime mysteries set in 1950s Dublin.
What sports/hobbies/pastimes do you enjoy?
Over the last year I have become a runner and I get out to Seapoint to swim most weekends once the water temperature hits double digits. I always have a few books on the go, usually leaning in the direction of non-fiction on things like AI and the internet, business, history and politics. Other than that I really like cooking for friends and family, especially barbecues when we get the weather, and I have great plans to start a vegetable patch in our back garden.
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 in Copenhagen.