For the latest in our series profiling Irish and Northern Irish lawyers working in countries around the world, we spoke with Patrick Callinan, Senior Legal Counsel at the US technology company Sprout Social, Inc.
Patrick Callinan, Senior Legal Counsel at Sprout Social Inc.
"I really enjoyed my time advising foreign companies and investors that sought to do business in former Yugoslavia"
Hi Patrick, thanks for agreeing to speak with us today. To begin, can you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
My name is Patrick Callinan, and I’m a Senior Legal Counsel at Sprout Social, Inc. I’m originally from Galway, have been practising law for fifteen years, and specialise in commercial, corporate and data privacy law. I recently left private practice, where I was a corporate partner with a US law firm in Dubai, to take a job as in-house counsel for Sprout Social, Inc., a US tech company based in Chicago and Dublin. Now, I advise my colleagues on all aspects of international commercial and privacy law from the comfort of my home office in Moycullen, Galway.
What kind of training did you do?
I have a BA and an LLB from the University of Galway, an LPC from the College of Law, Chester, and a diploma in Data Protection Law from King’s Inns, Dublin. I completed my training contract at Eversheds in Manchester, England.
Why did you become interested in legal work?
When I was in school, our next-door neighbour’s son worked as a corporate partner in at a big US law firm. To my fourteen-year-old self, everything that he had to say about his job seemed fascinating – especially compared to the options that my school’s career guidance teacher was peddling in early 1990s Ireland!
What do you hope to achieve from the work you are doing?
I enjoy working with my colleagues to resolve legal issues, and I love meeting and working with people from different backgrounds and cultures. I also love working in the technology sector, an industry that is constantly evolving at break-neck speed. Regulation struggles to keep up! A career in law can be demanding, but it provides me with a great sense of achievement.
You previously worked in Serbia and Dubai. Can you tell us about your role and the work you were involved in there?
I was fortunate enough to work as a Senior Associate with the law firm Karanovic & Partners in Belgrade and Sarajevo. I really enjoyed my time advising foreign companies and investors that sought to do business in former Yugoslavia – a place where I also discovered the benefits of cevapi and rakija! The Balkans is a fantastic part of the world.
More recently, I was a corporate partner with the US law firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Colt and Mosle LLP. I was based in their Dubai office, where I spent almost eight years advising government organisations and multinationals on all aspects of corporate and commercial law. I particularly enjoyed advising on energy-related matters and advising technology and start-up companies based in the GCC region. I was also fortunate enough to advise on data protection matters at a time when there were few specialists in the region.
"I’d also like to be seen as proof to anyone interested in a legal career that you don’t need a background in law to succeed in international law."
Why did you decide to work abroad?
From a young age I knew that I wanted to move abroad and explore the world. A career in law seemed like a great way to do that. I have been lucky enough to travel the world during my career and I met my wonderful wife in the Middle East!
Can you tell us some of your professional experiences that have left quite a mark on you personally?
When I first joined Curtis, I was primarily based in Kabul where I was a legal advisor to the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s Ministry of Mines and Petroleum. I made a lot of great friends at the Ministry and got to see many interesting places. This was probably the most demanding yet satisfying project that I ever advised on. I am still in regular contact with my Afghan friends, who are now scattered around the world following the tragic collapse of Kabul and the Afghan Government in 2021.
What drives you to do what you do?
I really enjoy providing simple, commercial solutions to complicated legal problems.
What sort of an impact would you like to make?
Any opportunity to contribute to new laws and regulations is always time well spent. When you work within a certain legal framework long enough, you quickly become aware of the legislative shortcomings that inhibit a jurisdiction’s ability to grow and prosper. Instead of complaining, you may as well contribute to a solution!
I’d also like to be seen as proof to anyone interested in a legal career that you don’t need a background in law to succeed in international law.
Your advice to young people entering the legal profession?
- Focus on attention to detail.
- Clients are paying you to provide them with practical solutions.
- There is no such thing as a stupid question.
- Focus on what you find interesting.
Anything else that you would like to add?
If any junior lawyers/trainees/graduates would like insight into a career in international law, they are welcome to drop me an email (connect on LinkedIn here). I'm always happy to help.