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Aircraft leasing, financial services and tech lure Dentons to Dublin, not Brexit

Never been a better time to be a corporate lawyer in Ireland as global legal firms move in

Big legal players have moved in beside the financial services and tech clients they serve, in what used to be Dublin’s docks.

Dublin’s attraction for the world’s biggest law firm seems to have little to do with Brexit. Dentons, which employs more than 10,000 lawyers in 73 countries, has opened in the Republic with plans to be firmly up and running by the second quarter of this year.

Elliott Portnoy, Dentons’ chief executive, cited the capital’s position as a leading centre for offshore funds, aircraft leasing and technology as some of the Republic’s biggest city’s main draws. “Ireland is a priority market for many of our clients,” he said, explaining that the firm’s strategy was to be in all the places its customers did business.

Industries such as funds management and administration, and aircraft leasing, need a fair level of legal support, making the Republic, and Dublin in particular, fertile ground for corporate lawyers.

With competition and data regulators circulating, this is increasingly true too of many tech companies, especially those that have chosen to make the Republic their European home, such as Google and Facebook.

Local firms have grown on the back of all this. In fact, big players including A&L Goodbody, Matheson and William Fry have their offices alongside the financial services and technology clients they serve, in what used to be Dublin’s docks. Other international partnerships, Pinsent Masons, Simmons & Simmons and Tully Rinckey have also set up here with an eye on the same market.

It is hard to guess what impact Dentons’ arrival will have on existing firms, although the news caused plenty of ripples when it was published. The latest multinational interloper has not said that it intends shaking up the local market by offering cheaper fees or more services.

One thing is for sure, Dentons is likely to poach some existing talent. It has begun already, by hiring William Fry partner Eavan Saunders to lead its Dublin office and Peter O’Brien from Matheson as the Irish operation’s chairman. There has, it appears, never been a better time to be a corporate lawyer in the Republic.

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