Freshfields has registered approximately 130 lawyers so far this year, while Eversheds has had about 100 lawyers admitted. Although the Irish Law society would not comment on specific firms, it did reveal that there have been a total of 319 admissions in 2016 – up from the figure of 186 before the vote.
According to the Irish Law Society, since the referendum, it has received approximately 30 initial queries per day from UK solicitors.
In a statement the society added: ‘We have had informal discussions with some of the major international law firms whose England and Wales-qualified solicitors have in recent weeks been taking out an additional qualification by seeking and gaining admittance to Roll of Solicitors in Ireland. We have learned from these informal discussions that the motivation for this move has been a concern to protect their status as lawyers qualified in an EU member state and the rights that such a status confers.
‘We have been told that this is simply contingency planning and that the firms concerned do not intend to establish offices in Ireland. The majority of solicitors that are transferring are from large London-headquartered firms including at least one of the so-called ‘Magic Circle’ firms, one of the ten largest law firms in the world. Many of these solicitors specialise in EU and competition law.’
Freshfields has the largest competition practice in London, while Eversheds already has a full-service offering in Dublin, after re-branding local firm O’Donnell Sweeney in 2011.
It is understood that fellow Magic Circle firms Clifford Chance and Linklaters have also registered some of their lawyers in Ireland due to Brexit, alongside a long list of firms which includes Herbert Smith Freehills, Hogan Lovells, Berwin Leighton Paisner, Simmons & Simmons and Norton Rose Fulbright.
Last week Legal Business revealed that Pinsent Masons was eyeing up a Dublin base, to complement its existing offering in Belfast and provide a full UK and Ireland presence for the firm.
Similarly it is understood that a number of UK firms are considering a Dublin base following Britain’s decision to leave the EU, with financial services and funds being two areas becoming especially lucrative following the Brexit vote.
While a full merger with an Irish firm is likely to be the preferable option for UK firms, Irish firms are unlikely to want to cut off profitable referral relationships with other UK firms.
Both Freshfields and Eversheds declined to comment.