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Fieldfisher merges with top 20 Irish firm McDowell Purcell for Dublin launch

Fieldfisher is continuing its fervent EU expansion with a new Dublin office, launched via a merger with top 20 Irish firm McDowell Purcell.

The 120-year-old Irish outfit, which consists of 16 partners and 50 lawyers, has a flagship regulatory practice, but other specialisms include dispute resolution, employment and insolvency and restructuring. It is led by managing partner JP McDowell (pictured, left).

Fieldfisher managing partner Michael Chissick (pictured, right) told Legal Business: ‘We set out a strategy a few years ago to be in every commercial capital in Europe, and Ireland is a key financial centre. We like the life sciences industry developing there too, so there were a lot of nice synergies.’

He added: ‘This combination will create the eighteenth largest law firm in the Republic of Ireland.’

McDowell noted that merger discussions between the two firms started to intensify last summer, but they had worked with each other for close to a decade. He commented: ‘We did talk to other law firms [about a merger], but the pan-European presence Fieldfisher has and the level of ambition Michael has shown swung the balance.’ McDowell, who will operate as Fieldfisher’s managing partner for the Republic of Ireland, said around 30 new partners, lawyers and support staff are set to join the Dublin office in the next year.

The tie-up, which will come into effect from 1 May, will mark Fieldfisher’s 25th global office. It comes somewhat unexpectedly, after Chissick played down the potential for further European launches after the firm added a long-awaited Spanish arm last year.

The Spain launch, which was also achieved via a merger with a local firm, came after a sustained period of European expansion. Fieldfisher also opened in offices in Luxembourg and Frankfurt earlier that same year, with a new Amsterdam office established in 2017.

Fieldfisher has been one of the UK’s highest-performing firms in recent years. Between 2013 and 2018 its firm-wide revenue has grown 118% to £207m.