News and Events

UCC School of Law Hosts Irish Association of Law Teachers Annual Conference

6 Dec 2021

The 2021 conference, sponsored by Matheson, was held in-person at the River Lee Hotel, Cork, on 19-21 November and showcased the research of over 60 speakers from all over the island of Ireland as well as delegates from overseas.

This year’s conference theme was ‘The Law and Crisis’ with papers and panel sessions on the day exploring issues on how the law interacts with crises, and the challenges posed by this. The event was sponsored by Matheson, a long-term partner and supporter of the Association.

Topics for discussion across the weekend’s panel sessions included feminist constitutional futures, rights and the Mother and Baby Homes, Covid-19 vaccination, legal pedagogy, and the Traveller Equality and Justice Project, to name just a few. One of the conference highlights was the plenary session with Professor Roger Cotterrell (Queen Mary, University of London), Professor Blanaid Clarke (Trinity College Dublin) and Professor Áine Ryall (UCC School of Law). Professor Cotterrell appeared by video link, speaking on “A Jurisprudence for Crisis Times?”, while Professor Clarke considered “The Financial Crisis: Corporate Law and Corporate Governance” describing how reactive legislation where government’s respond almost too quickly can create further problems in particular the problem of unintended consequences of the legislation itself. Professor Ryall spoke about “The Climate and Biodiversity Crisis: Legal Frameworks for Effective Environmental Governance”, specifically referencing the role that Universities can play in equipping students for climate advocacy and activism through innovations like the Digital Badge in Climate Law and Governance for Engaged Citizenship.

There were networking opportunities aplenty at the conference – the first in two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic – including a wine reception sponsored by Clarus Press, a conference dinner and Sunday Lunch at the River Lee Hotel. Delegates keen to learn more about Cork’s history had the opportunity to undertake a cultural tour of the nearby seventeenth century Elizabeth Fort.

Elsewhere, the recipients of this year’s IALT Matheson Postgraduate Scholarships were announced and presented on the night of the conference dinner. These recipients were:

  • Mary Curtin from the University of Limerick for her paper on ‘A Role for prenuptial agreements in the farming community’
  • Blaithin O’Shea, also from the University of Limerick, for her work on ‘Ireland’s housing crisis and persons with intellectual disabilities’
  • And UCC School of Law’s very own Gordon Rumley. A PhD candidate at the School, Gordon’s research is funded by the Irish Research Council and the Irish Legal Aid Board, and explores methods of dispute resolution in family law.

Speaking following receipt of his scholarship, Gordon Rumley said:

Having started a PhD during the pandemic, I was delighted to deliver my paper “A Methodological Approach for the Holistic Exploration of the Irish Legal Aid Board Family Dispute Resolution Services” in person at this year’s IALT Annual Conference. Receiving the IALT Matheson Postgraduate Scholarship amongst such a welcoming and inspiring group of academics was a huge privilege. The opportunity to engage with senior academics and peer group researchers was invigorating and provided me with great enthusiasm for the continuation of my research.

Matheson also sponsored The Kevin Boyle Book Prize for Outstanding Legal Scholarship and the winner was Catherine O’Rourke, Durham University for “Women’s Rights in Armed Conflict under International Law” (CUP 2020) with a special mention being made for William Phelan for his monograph 'Great Judgments of the Court of Justice of the EU' (CUP 2019).

The Matheson sponsored awards were presented by Professor Irene Lynch Fannon, Head of Knowledge Management at Matheson. Professor Lynch Fannon is currently on leave of absence from UCC School of Law to work with the firm. Speaking at the presentation of the awards during the conference dinner she said:

Matheson are delighted to be involved with the Irish Association of Law Teachers and to be supportive of the cutting-edge research evidenced at the conference today and by the award-winning works. Academics have the freedom to engage in research which has impact both in the short and long term. The legal research supporting practise areas in Matheson has many of the same characteristics as legal research in academia and I personally would like to see stronger collaborations and more use of the bridge between the two worlds. I have no doubt that sharing our commonality of interests will serve to strengthen the quality and excellence of legal research and practise in Ireland.

Reflecting on a successful conference, Dr Stephen Coutts – President of the IALT and Lecturer at UCC School of Law – said:

I’m delighted to have brought the IALT Annual Conference to Cork this year. The past two years have been difficult for the Association which prides itself on its welcoming and friendly events and for building a community of legal scholars in Ireland. Meeting colleagues, building professional relationships and fostering an academic community is so important and something we have sorely missed over the past couple of years. It was wonderful to meet everyone and to enjoy engaging presentations and discussions on all aspects of legal research and teaching in Ireland.

About the Irish Association of Law Teachers

The Irish Association of Law Teachers was established in 1979 as an all-island association with the aim of promoting excellence in legal education and scholarship. The annual conference is the focal point of the association’s year. The conference venue changes annually to reflect the broad geographical spread of its members. From its inception, the Association has welcomed members from all institutions involved in the provision of legal education across the island of Ireland, whether in universities, Institutes of Technology, private colleges, or professional institutions. For more information on the IALT, visit:

With thanks to the IALT Annual Conference 2021 sponsors: 


School of Law

Scoil an Dlí

Room 1.63, Aras na Laoi, T12 T656