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  • 🇮🇪 Is Ireland the new Silicon Valley?

🇮🇪 Is Ireland the new Silicon Valley?


In today’s email:

  • Law firms, just let us in!

  • Hogan Lovells tops £2bn

  • Lawyers are actually using AI

  • Air Canada’s bot gets in trouble

  • The Body Shop’s closing its stores

  • Learn graph theory (while having fun)

  • Type using alternatives to the QWERTY keyboard

… and more!

If you take just one thing from this email…

Ireland is becoming a tech hub because of its young, highly-educated workforce, competitive corporate tax rates, and the fact that it’s English-speaking. One extra key attraction is the GDPR's one-stop shop mechanism, which simplifies compliance across the EU, making Ireland a prime location for tech giants like OpenAI to establish their European headquarters. Moves like this result in higher demand for legal services in the country.


Do yourself a favour right now.

Look straight up at the ceiling.

Now slowly shrug and roll your shoulders forward in a circular motion 5 times.

Now roll them in the opposite direction 5 times.

Ahh — feel some of that stress and tension disappear.

(I saw this in Josh Kubicki’s Brainyacts newsletter and loved it — all credit to him!)


In last week’s newsletter, I asked if you Skoosherz was a copy of Squishmallow.

Squishmallow 👇️ 

Skoosherz 👇️ 

The poll BLEW UP with 230 votes (but still no clear winner).

And here are some of the thing you had to say:

Yes — they’ve copied it:

  • “I feel they have clearly copied it in terms of cute design and the name — a "sq" is similar to a "sk".

  • “The design and colour schemes are too similar.”

  • “Visually very similar - positioning of facial features, shape and (seemingly) dimensions. Material and filling also look like they would be similar... I would imagine that toys would need to be particularly similar to be considered copies of one another given that the market is extremely saturated and cuddly toys all have a similar function.”

❌ No — it’s not a copy:

  • “The shapes and drawings of the toys are significantly different. Squishmallow toys have an oval shape with a squared bottom, and two eyes very close to the tiny mouth. Skoosherz are round-shaped and some of them have bigger mouths.”

  • “It's a toy. Lots of other brands out their, from Fuggler (Fart Face Gaptooth McGoo is quite unique), Ty Squishoo, Bum Bumz to Ami Amis (I know a little too much about this market!)”

  • “They're both plush toys, and those have been made for years, so surely the bar for being a copy is incredibly high… The pictures show the Skoosherz as being more round than Squishmallows, giving them a material unique property. While it's quite clear Skoosherz is capitalising on Squishmallows' success, it clearly falls below being an outright copy.”

- Idin

 🇮🇪 Is Ireland the new Silicon Valley?

What's going on here?

Over the few years, tech companies like Google, Meta and Apple have moved their European headquarters to Ireland.

OpenAI (a now $80bn company) is the latest to move it’s European base to the country.

Why is Ireland attracting these companies?

There are a few reasons:

  • 🎓 The country has a young and highly-educated workforce

  • 💼 Ireland has a low corporate tax rate, which was 12.5% until 2023 and just moved up to 15% (the average corporate tax rate globally is 23%)

  • 🇪🇺 Since Brexit, it’s the only European Union country with English as its sole official language (Malta has Maltese and English as its official languages).

But for OpenAI, the main attraction was the GDPR one-stop shop mechanism.

What is the one-stop shop?

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the data protection and privacy regulation that applies across the whole EU — it’s considered the gold standard of data privacy.

The regulations are the same across all the EU countries. But companies only need to deal with the lead supervisory authority of the country that they’re based in (as opposed to the authorities of all 27 member states of the EU).

The lead authority of your country then coordinates with other relevant authorities to make sure compliance and enforcement is consistent across the EU.

That’s how the one-stop-shop mechanism works. It’s supposed to streamline the enforcement process.

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) is considered to be fairly ‘business friendly’ — which is why these companies would rather only deal with them.

How did OpenAI actually do this?

It’s easy, really.

In December last year, OpenAI set up an Irish subsidiary called OpenAI Ireland Limited and made it their official data controller for all of their EU customers.

Why should law firms care?

OpenAI’s move to Ireland could be considered a type of ‘forum shopping’. Forum shopping is when you choose a country because it gives you a legal advantage. As the Irish data regulators are known to be ‘business-friendly’, the tech company might think they’d be bothered less here than in other EU jurisdictions that are more strict.

This is a good example of how wider factors in a country can affect demand for legal services. In this case, the fact the the UK left the EU made Ireland more desirable as the one remaining English-speaking nation.

The attitude of its data regulator made the country more attractive for tech business which are data rich.

Factors like this can affect the amount of work that data protection lawyers and compliance professionals in Ireland will continue to have.

This highlights why law firms need to stay on top of trends like this. For example, if it could mean a lot more business, maybe they’d think about opening an office there.

It's about being in the right place at the right time with the right expertise.


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  • 📈 Hogan Lovells celebrates a strong year with revenue leaping to over £2bn. The firm has seen a near 10% increase, reaching £2.15bn in 2023. Their reason was a strong mix of corporate, finance, regulatory, and tech practices (one highlight was representing Coinbase at the Supreme Court). With profits per partner up 22% and a new London HQ on the horizon, things are changing fast at the firm.

  • 🧼 The Body Shop is set to close up to half of its 198 stores in the UK. This move comes after the UK arm fell into administration and was acquired by Aurelius, a German private equity firm. Despite the tough times in the UK, The Body Shop's global presence remains unaffected. Jones Day, a key player in legal advisory, initially acted for Aurelius during its acquisition of The Body Shop and is now advising on the administration.

  • 🛩️ Air Canada's chatbot tricked a man into buying a full-price ticket and now the airline has to pay for the mistake. A man seeking a bereavement fare for his grandmother's funeral, got the wrong info from the airline's chatbot which misled him into buying a full-price ticket. He took the case to a tribunal which sided with him. Air Canada tried to say that the bot is “responsible for its own actions”. The airline needs to pay C$651 (£381) for the fare difference, plus a little extra for interest and fees. It’s a reminder that in the digital world, responsibility can't be outsourced to AI.

  • 👩‍⚖️ Use of generative AI among legal professionals has doubled to 26% in just six months. Lexis Nexis reports that law firms are using AI for tasks like document drafting and complex contract analytics. Yet lawyers are asking that the AI be backed by solid sources and citations. Lexis is working on its own product, Lexis+ AI, designed to meet this exact demand with data-driven, trustworthy insights.


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  • 📹️ Free application help: If you're applying to commercial law firms, check out my YouTube channel for actionable tips and an insight into the lifestyle of a commercial lawyer in London.

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