Ireland: A case to make

Ireland: A case to make

Centuries of imperiousness towards the Irish could be one of England’s greatest historical mistakes, and when Legal Business set about asking Irish independents whether Dublin is a viable alternative to London for disputes work following Brexit, it felt as though this underestimation was very much alive today. However, the Irish legal elite remains defiant in the face of any English condescension.

‘Absolutely it’s viable,’ says Dillon Eustace’s managing partner Mark Thorne when asked if the Irish Bar’s initiative to promote Dublin as a global disputes centre was realistic. ‘You’re asking if the big independent firms have the talent to achieve that, and the answer is yes, absolutely.’ Continue reading “Ireland: A case to make”

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?

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.

Ireland has had its own problems with votes on the European Union (EU), throwing Europe into chaos when the country held a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty in 2008 and it was rejected by 53% of voters. A vote was held again in 2009, and the Irish had a change of heart – the treaty was then backed by 67% of the population. Continue reading “Ireland: Will there be greener grass for booming Dublin in the post-Brexit world?”

Roaring back – Corporate activity has soared in Ireland

Roaring back – Corporate activity has soared in Ireland

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.

Identifying around 200,000 people, Kenny said: ‘Emigration has a devastating impact on our economy as we lose the input of people, of talent and energy. We need these people at home. And we will welcome them. I believe that, after seven years of emigration, 2016 will be the year when the number of our people coming home will be greater than the numbers who leave.’

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Ireland: Tracking Dublin’s Young Tigers

Ireland: Tracking Dublin’s Young Tigers

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.

While the situation is still deemed perilous in many parts, with a mammoth public deficit, a woeful property market and high unemployment, a sense of confidence is returning to Ireland’s legal elite. And such is the battle-hardened resilience of the young lawyers that made partner around the time the economy crumbled – including those at Arthur Cox, McCann FitzGerald, A&L Goodbody, William Fry, Matheson and others – that a crop of up-and-coming individuals are emerging as the next generation of stars to define Ireland’s legal market in the years ahead. Continue reading “Ireland: Tracking Dublin’s Young Tigers”

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

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.

It also symbolises what happened to countless properties nationwide, and resonates with the fear felt by many Irish people that the pre-bust Celtic Tiger years will never surface again. Continue reading “Outrageous fortune – how Ireland’s legal elite has stood up to five punishing years of austerity”

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.

Continue reading “International rescue – the advisers winning the key work for multi-national clients in Ireland”

Ireland – Court Appeal

Ireland – Court Appeal

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).

‘We are busier than we’ve ever been,’ confirms Liam Kennedy, head of dispute resolution at A&L Goodbody. ‘The first half of last year was all crisis litigation, but since then we’ve had a lot of big-ticket work, such as high-level restructuring, insolvency, regulatory and international asset tracing litigation.’ Continue reading “Ireland – Court Appeal”

Ireland – Céad míle fáilte

Ireland – Céad míle fáilte

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’.

The purpose of the project is to promote inbound and outbound investment between the two countries. Foreign direct investment (FDI) into Ireland has long been a bright spot for the Irish economy, with headline multinationals such as Microsoft and Google choosing Ireland to base their European operations during the 1990s. More recently, however, there has been a surge in momentum. Continue reading “Ireland – Céad míle fáilte”

Nerves of steel: Ireland

Nerves of steel: Ireland

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.

Certainly, despite the construction boom, the Irish legal market was an unlikely place for an international firm to launch: it already had its Big Five — Ireland’s Magic Circle — plus several more entrepreneurial firms sitting below them getting ready to pounce. With a population of less than five million, it was inconceivable that a newcomer could threaten their domination. Who would want to move into such a tightly held monopoly? Nobody seemed surprised when Masons moved out in 2004.

Continue reading “Nerves of steel: Ireland”