KPMG spins out standalone law firm with aim to grow to 160 staff by end of 2025

Move by Big Four accounting group highlights rapid change in legal services sector since Brexit and amid growth of cross-border international operators

KPMG Law Ireland, the second Irish law firm to be set up with links to one of the Big Four accounting groups, aims to grow its workforce from 60 to 160 within the next three years, according to its managing partner, John Given.

The firm, which officially launched this week, joins a Brexit-fuelled influx of corporate law firms into the Republic in recent times, shaking up the market. It also follows on from EY, which is currently splitting its audit and accounting advisory functions globally, establishing EY Law Ireland late last year.

Both new law firms have been set up as stand-alone legal entities, as law firms in Ireland must be owned by partners who are solicitors. Michael Moore, who was a principal in KPMG Ireland legal services department that was set up in 2014, is the other current partner of KPMG Law Ireland.

KPMG Ireland hired Mr Given from Philip Lee Solicitors July to head up its legal services practice ahead of the setting up of a separate law firm, with an initial staff count of 60.


“KPMG has had legal services for years – and indeed company secretarial services going back to the 1990s. What’s changed now is that there is now a new law firm regulated by the Law Society that is part of an international network of KPMG law firms in 84 jurisdictions that have well over 3,000 lawyers,” said Mr Given.

“In addition to the proven track record of the existing legal team who are joining us from KPMG in Ireland, we’ll be developing new services and capabilities across a range of areas. We look forward to offering all of these services to existing clients of KPMG, as well as to other participants in the corporate and business market.”

Seamus Hand, managing partner of KPMG in Ireland, which employs more than 4,000 people on the island, said the move to set up a separate law firm “responds to the demand for additional top-class legal experience and expertise in many growing and complex areas of the law”.

Dublin’s corporate law services sector, which has stood out as an anomaly across western economies in recent decades as a tightly-knit community dominated by six big local operators – Matheson, Arthur Cox, A&L Goodbody, Mason Hayes & Curran, McCann Fitzgerald and William Fry – has become a hotbed of activity in the past five years.

Seven of the top 20 firms in the Republic are now part of international organisations, according to financial services firm Evelyn Partners, following a raft of dealmaking in the wake of the Brexit referendum and as major international law groups follow multinational clients.

Major deals this year include UK firm Addleshaw Goddard’s merger with Eugene F Collins, and fellow Dublin-based firm Leman Solicitors become part of the international Ogier practice.

Firms including London-based Pinsent Masons, DLA Piper, Simmons & Simmons and Ashurst, and US names like Tully Rinckey, Covington & Burling and Dentons, as well as the dual US-UK legal house Hogan Lovells, have set up shop in the Irish capital since the Brexit referendum – largely poaching senior partners from local firms to establish practices.

Mr Given spent two decades with A&L Goodbody, ending up as head of M&A, before joining Elan in March 2013 as general counsel, just as the drugmaker was the subject of a takeover battle that ended up with an $8.6 billion (€7.7 billion) purchase by Perrigo.

Mr Given subsequently co-founded and floated Malin, an investor in life-sciences companies, with former Elan chief executive Kelly Martin. He quit at the end of 2016 to concentrate on other interests, before joining Philip Lee in 2019.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times