Wild Geese: Rosemary Dooley, New York
Rosemary Dooley: “I love living here and, to be honest, would miss it too much if I left.”
Rosemary Dooley didn’t leave Ireland because she had to. She chose to. By the time she graduated with a law degree from Trinity College, the dog days of the 1980s and early 1990s had faded and there were many more opportunities in Ireland for trainee solicitors and barristers.
But, after completing a masters in law at Cambridge, Dooley was offered the opportunity to move to New York to work as a paralegal at Patterson, Belknap, Webb and Tyler, a law firm in Manhattan. She secured a J-1 visa and moved in December 1997.
“After a year of working as paralegal, I studied for the New York state bar exam in February 1999, fortunately passed the first time, and Patterson, Belknap hired me as an associate attorney in their transactional corporate practice.”
It was a dream job for the young lawyer from Monasterevin in Co Kildare. Dooley worked with a team of lawyers advising companies on formation, financing, mergers and acquisitions, etc.
After six years at Patterson, Belknap, she took some time off and qualified to practise as a solicitor in England and Wales. She considered moving to London, but missed New York too much and moved back there to work for another large New York law firm, Schulte, Roth and Zabel.
“There I worked on big corporate deals such as Fiat’s acquisition of Chrysler in the wake of the collapse of the US auto industry.”
Experience at two large Manhattan law firms equipped Dooley with the legal skills necessary to start her own business. “Working for myself always appealed to me and, in 2012, I took the plunge and founded McCormick & Dooley PLLC with a fellow Irish lawyer, Barbara McCormick. I haven’t looked back since.”
McCormick practises immigration law and Dooley practises transactional business/corporate law. On the corporate side, both advise start-ups and established companies on corporate structure and formation, corporate financing, mergers and acquisitions, commercial contracts and a variety of other business and commercial matters.
On the immigration side, they prepare temporary work visa applications for companies seeking to hire foreign workers and for individual clients, including many artists, musicians and other creative people, as well as employment and family-based applications for permanent residence.
“Many of our clients are Irish or other foreign companies that want to expand their operations into the US. We are well placed to advise them on US corporate law in setting up a US subsidiary and commencing operations here, and immigration law if they wish to send any of their local employees to the US on a temporary basis.
“We are a great fit for this type of client as we have first-hand experience of being immigrants who have set up a business in New York. We deliver quality legal advice at more cost-effective rates than bigger law firms.”
Dooley advises Irish people following in her footsteps to the Big Apple to be prepared to work very hard.
“You can work hard and play hard because New York has so much to offer in terms of arts, culture, entertainment, food, etc. Food choices are endless and eating out is very common, since most New Yorkers live in apartments with tiny kitchens.
“There’s a vibrant running community here, and New York Road Runners puts on numerous races and running events throughout the year, including the New York city marathon,” which she ran last weekend to raise money for Concern Worldwide.
While securing work visas has become more challenging under the current administration, Dooley thinks there will always be opportunities in the US for Irish emigrants who are well educated, motivated and hard-working.
“We live in a more digitally connected world than when I first moved here 20 years ago so it is easier to connect with people and hear about available opportunities.”
For several years Dooley was the treasurer of the Trinity College Alumni Association in New York, and she is a member of some Irish-American organisations such as the Irish International Business Network, Digital Irish, the Irish Business Organisation and the Irish American Bar Association of New York.
But she urges people not to confine themselves to what they know. “I think it’s important to branch out beyond Irish-American organisations. In particular, there are some great US organisations focused on women business owners such as the National Association of Women Business Owners and the Ellevate Network.”
Right now, Dooley is focused on continuing to grow the business and sees herself remaining based in New York for the foreseeable future.
“I love living here and, to be honest, would miss it too much if I left. Being my own boss and the nature of an advisory business like a law firm means that I can work from anywhere with a laptop, a phone and a high-speed internet connection. As a result, I can spend more time in Europe where I have a holiday home in southwest France and still be able to service my clients.”
Previously published in The Irish Times.
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