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‘Real opportunity in Ireland’: Lewis Silkin becomes fourth firm to open in Dublin post-Brexit vote

City firm Lewis Silkin is to follow in the footsteps of Simmons & Simmons, Covington & Burling and Pinsent Masons by launching a Dublin office.

The new outpost, which will focus on Lewis Silkin’s core strength of employment law, is set to open on 3 April. To staff the new office it has hired employment specialist Siobhra Rush , who will join from local firm Leman Solicitors. On launch, Rush will be supported by London-based partner Sean Dempsey, with fellow City associates Catherine Hayes and David Hopper offering reinforcements when needed.

Lewis Silkin’s chair Michael Burd told Legal Business that Brexit was a factor in the firm’s decision to open in the country: ‘We have found that clients are looking for a joined-up Irish-UK service. We also have some concern about what will happen in the UK after Brexit but the real driver was client demand.’

He added: ‘We think that there is a real opportunity in the Irish market for this kind of niche firm and we are keen to capitalise on it. So far the reception has been very positive.’

For expansion-shy Lewis Silkin, opening only its second office outside of the UK is a major step, with the firm possessing offices in London, Oxford, Cardiff and Hong Kong. Burd observed: ‘We don’t see ourselves as a world behemoth.’

Pinsent Masons became the first firm to open in Ireland following the Brexit referendum in 2016, launching a three partner office in June 2017. But unlike Lewis Silkin, Pinsent Masons senior partner Richard Foley confirmed ‘it wasn’t a Brexit thing’ and that the decision was made before the UK voted to leave the EU.

Last September, Covington opened its own Dublin office, focusing on regulation, pharma and life sciences. London-based EU life sciences partner Grant Castle and technology partner Daniel Cooper were selected to oversee the new hub.

Simmons opened in Dublin a month later, with a practice initially focusing on asset management. Mason Hayes & Curran’s head of investment funds and financial regulation Fionán Breathnach was drafted in to lead Simmons’ Irish venture.