Emerald Ambitions

Emerald Ambitions

Barry Devereux, managing partner of Irish leader McCann FitzGerald, is not letting the bad Irish weather dampen his spirits. ‘The Irish market is buoyant and there are a lot of things going on. The economy is growing, markets are good and debt is relatively inexpensive. The climate is good for deal-making. Brexit is the reality, but it will undoubtedly provide opportunities across the financial services market in Dublin. It has given a fillip to the market in terms of the interest in real estate, and people looking for accommodation and office space. Dublin is doing very well.’

Dublin’s legal market continues to boom. The impact of Brexit undoubtedly dented the transactional market in the last six months of 2016, but the shock has, for the most part, subsided and many practice areas are busy. Real estate has enjoyed a particular resurgence after the painful post-bailout year, while corporate and finance lawyers are always in high demand. But the Irish market is also enjoying a boom in more niche areas, including data protection and intellectual property, particularly with the incoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and legal works in the fields of fintech, regulatory investigations and online gaming. Continue reading “Emerald Ambitions”

Ireland: Will there be greener grass for booming Dublin in the post-Brexit world?

Ireland: Will there be greener grass for booming Dublin in the post-Brexit world?

A resurgent Ireland has boomed in recent years, cementing Dublin’s position as one of Europe’s key law hubs. Will Brexit halt its rise or take its legal elites to new heights?

As a nation well versed in referenda, Ireland is in tune with the times. Since 1937 and the creation of Bunreacht na hÉireann as the fundamental law of Ireland, there have been 35 referenda on everything from a change in the country’s single transferable vote system to the controversial right to life of the unborn.

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Roaring back – Corporate activity has soared in Ireland

Roaring back – Corporate activity has soared in Ireland

Amid robust economic recovery, corporate activity has soared in Ireland. Legal Business talks to law firms on the ground to scope the nation’s primary dealmakers

Earlier this year, Ireland’s prime minister (An Taoiseach) Enda Kenny made an appeal to emigrants who had departed the country in the aftermath of the economic crash to return home. Speaking at the launch of an official government policy paper, ‘Global Irish: Ireland’s Diaspora Policy’, the appeal was aimed at encouraging educated Irish people to return, as the government ramps up efforts to entice international investment and capitalise on the fragile Irish economic recovery.

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Ireland: Tracking Dublin’s Young Tigers

Ireland: Tracking Dublin’s Young Tigers

As Ireland starts to recover from recession, who will emerge as the next generation of partners to make names for themselves? Legal Business canvassed the Dublin market to find out.

Ireland is breathing a little easier again. With more than five years of economic turbulence battering both businesses and reputations, the nation has finally managed to hoist itself out of recession. Having officially exited its €67.5bn bailout programme in December 2013 – a move described by finance minister Michael Noonan as Ireland being ‘handed back her purse’ – this summer also saw the Central Statistics Office announce economic growth of 2.7% for the first quarter of 2014.

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Outrageous fortune – how Ireland’s legal elite has stood up to five punishing years of austerity

Outrageous fortune – how Ireland’s legal elite has stood up to five punishing years of austerity

From the tall windows of Dublin law firm Matheson, you can clearly see the derelict building of the unfinished Anglo Irish Bank headquarters on the opposite side of the River Liffey.

Bought by the Central Bank in 2012 from lender and toxic loans body the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) for an estimated €7m (having been valued at €250m in the boom years), plans to use the tower as the now defunct Anglo Irish’s headquarters were abandoned after the company’s collapse. The grey shell of a building standing idle on North Wall Quay is a fitting reminder of the five-year-long turmoil that has battered the Irish economy both in domestic business and international reputation.

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International rescue – the advisers winning the key work for multi-national clients in Ireland

International rescue – the advisers winning the key work for multi-national clients in Ireland

Rescuing Ireland’s banks was a portentous decision in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. It has resulted in crippling consequences for the country, with the Irish government having to receive an €85bn bailout from the EU and the International Monetary Fund in November 2010. However, what the move hasn’t changed is the league of established Irish law firms which have diversified core practices and picked up some hefty post-crisis work at home and abroad.

Pockets of the Irish economy are clearly surviving, as evidenced by the restructuring of distressed assets that has generated unprecedented work for the ‘Big Five’ and those catching up behind. Upon visiting Dublin, the overwhelming consensus among the firms that spoke to Legal Business – including the top and mid-tier players – was that firms specialising in corporate restructuring, insolvency and professional indemnity have held strong in this fiercely competitive market. Foreign direct investment (FDI) has also been a pillar for economic and law firm survival, as attractive tax rates and a lowered cost base maintains global interest from major corporates.

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Ireland – Court Appeal

Ireland – Court Appeal

Despite the volume and scale of contentious work in Ireland, clients are demanding lower and more flexible fees. Even the elite firms have to oblige.

Asked whether the Irish legal market is awash with contentious work, one leading litigator sighs deeply and quips: ‘Well, the country is certainly full of contention.’ Every dip in any economic cycle brings a raft of litigious work, but the spectacular collapse of Ireland’s banking and property sectors following the global credit crisis has brought unprecedented large-scale litigation, restructuring and administration (termed examinership in Ireland).

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Ireland – Céad míle fáilte

Ireland – Céad míle fáilte

Record foreign direct investment from the US and growing interest from major powers, such as China, could kick-start Ireland’s domestic economy. And who better to bang the drum than the country’s well-connected lawyers?

Shanghai’s location at the estuary of the Yangtze River attracts rainfall for a third of the year. Lawyers from the region will feel at home in Ireland then, a country not renowned for its weather. Earlier this year, law firm A&L Goodbody officially launched its pioneering Chinese Lawyer Exchange Programme, signing agreements with 15 Chinese law firms and universities, such as Beijing’s King & Wood Mallesons and Shanghai’s East China University of Political Science and Law. The programme will provide six-month placements at the firm’s Dublin office as well as in-house experience with clients such as Pfizer, Bank of Ireland and Telefónica O2. Such is the initiative that Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny applauded the firm for its ‘enterprise’ and ‘courage’.

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Nerves of steel: Ireland

Nerves of steel: Ireland

Ireland’s steady handling of its financial meltdown has seen it climbing out of recession. The government’s push to internationalise the business sector is working and the legal market is keeping pace

As little as five years ago, the consensus was that Ireland was a mature legal market. In a failed experiment, UK firm Masons (legacy firm of Pinsent Masons) had packed in its projects and construction boutique after a mere six years, citing fierce market competition.

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