Mr. Luke Gibbons is an Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Scholar and Ph.D. Candidate at Trinity College Dublin under the supervision of Professor Deirdre Ahern. Mr. Gibbons, 27, who hails from County Mayo, Ireland, has recently commenced a Fulbright Visiting Researcher position at Harvard Law School. His research which investigates the effectiveness of company directors’ duties in the face of climate change risks is considered as potentially ‘game – changing’.
Mr. Gibbons’ work seeks to draw comparisons between company directors’ duties in Ireland, the EU, the United Kingdom and the United States. The central research question is to consider if there is any legal obligation on directors to meaningfully consider climate change when making decision as part of their duties. The aim is to suggest standardised multi-jurisdictional legal reforms to encourage company directors to be more climate conscious when making business decisions. In a world where climate change is the most pressing global issue of our time, corporate climatic contributions are evident, and business is globalized, standardisation between the United States, the UK and the EU in terms of guiding directorial decision making is critical. Mr. Gibbons is leading the way as the first to conduction this essential research.
The ground-breaking nature of Gibbons’ research is notable from the prestigious financial backing and endorsement it has received. His research is fully funded by a highly competitive Irish Research Council Government of Ireland Postgraduate Research Scholarship to the value of $82,500. Moreover, Mr. Gibbons’ is attending Harvard Law School as part of the world-renowned Fulbright Program. His Visiting Researcher position is funded by the Irish Fulbright Commission as approved by the Presidentially Appointed J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board.
Gibbons’ research has already received much acclaim. He was awarded as Overall Irish Law Student of the Year 2022. Richard Hammond SC, chairperson of the Irish Law Awards judging panel, paid tribute to the role Gibbons’ evident passion for his subject played in earning him the accolade. He said: “Luke Gibbons stood out for the erudition of his research and his enthusiasm for the law as a living and evolving topic.” Mr. Gibbons was also named in the Junior Chamber International Top Ten Most Outstanding Young People Under 40 in Ireland 2021 and was awarded as Most Outstanding Young Person in Ireland Under 40 for Academic Leadership and Achievement.
Gibbons’ Harvard position comes off of the back of a successful tenure in Washington D.C. as an Advisory Legislative Fellow to Congressman Matt Cartwright. During this role the importance of his work for US-Ireland relations was covered by Fox 56 and WBRE. Mr. Gibbons was selected for this position as one of 30 young leaders from the island of Ireland as a class member of the Washington Ireland Program. This is Ireland’s foremost leadership program, with acceptance being extremely competitive with over 700 applicants each year. Notable alumni include current Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar.
Speaking on being selected as a Fulbright Visiting Researcher at Harvard Law School, Gibbons noted: ‘It is the accumulation of my life’s work thus far to be researching at Harvard Law School. I hope my research will create real change in the world and assist as a piece in the puzzle to tackle the polycentric and globally pervasive issue of climate change. Company law is an area that has been under explored as a potential avenue of legal reform to combat corporate contribution to this global issue. I hope my research changes not just the law, but also inspires others to conduct research in this area. However, most importantly, I would not be here without the guidance and support I have receive from my supervisor Professor Deirdre Ahern; the education from Meelickmore National School, St. Colman’s College Claremorris, Trinity College Dublin, Emory University Atlanta and the University of Oxford; and of course the unwavering encouragement from my parents.’
Mr. Gibbons also holds a First – Class LL.B. Law Degree with a Gold Medal from Trinity College Dublin and a BCL, Masters in Law, from the University of Oxford where he graduated with Distinction as the Honoré Scholar in Law. Gibbons will be researching at Harvard Law School until February 2024 before returning to Ireland to conclude his comparative investigation.