Another big-name legal firm enters Irish market

Fieldfisher announces merger with Dublin-based McDowell Purcell

[From left] Fieldfisher managing partner Michael Chissick with McDowell Purcell’s managing partner JP McDowell. Merger gives Fieldfisher access to the Republic’s fast-growing legal market while deepening the resources and reach of McDowell Purcell.

[From left] Fieldfisher managing partner Michael Chissick with McDowell Purcell’s managing partner JP McDowell. Merger gives Fieldfisher access to the Republic’s fast-growing legal market while deepening the resources and reach of McDowell Purcell.

 

Fieldfisher, one of Europe’s largest legal firms, is expanding into the Irish market through a merger with Dublin-based McDowell Purcell.

The partnership, formally agreed this week, is designed to give Fieldfisher access to the Republic’s fast-growing legal market while deepening the resources and reach of the Irish firm.

With 1,500 staff and 24 offices worldwide, Fieldfisher is the latest big-name law firm to set up shop here, reflecting the gradual internationalisation of the Irish market.

In February, US law firm Clark Hill announced a strategic tie-up with Dublin-based O’Gradys Solicitors while London-based Simmons & Simmons opened its first Irish office last year. Global legal firms Eversheds and the Maples Group, formerly Maples and Calder, have also recently entered the market here.

Fieldfisher said having an Irish base was key to its international growth strategy and crucial to safeguarding the delivery of services amid the current Brexit uncertainty.

Brexit angle

“We’ve been building a European law firm and Dublin was the last missing piece of the jigsaw,” managing partner Michael Chissick said.

“We’re seeing a lot our clients, particularly in tech and financial services, interested in the Irish market,” he said. “And there is a Brexit angle of course because Ireland is going to be the English-speaking gateway into the EU.”

McDowell Purcell, which currently employs 140 staff at its Dublin offices on Capel Street, is the State’s leading regulatory practice, an area which is expected to grow significantly under Brexit, but also has competencies in traditional fields of corporate and commercial as well as banking and finance law. And more recently it has branched into the fast-growing renewable energy sector.

“The merger will allow us to provide clients with new product lines and process-efficient services, and to compete more effectively with the global firms that are now establishing a foothold in the Irish legal market,” managing partner JP McDowell said.

New hires

“We are looking at developing our offering in technology, finance and life sciences, and will be announcing new hires in these areas in the coming months,” he said.

Unlike the accountancy profession here, which has been taken over by the so-called Big Four international practices, the legal profession is still dominated by indigenous firms such as Arthur Cox and A&L Goodbody.

However, companies are increasingly demanding multi-jurisdictional services, which has triggered some Irish firms to seek international partners.

“The days of very, very localised law firms are coming to an end and if you look at the march of the US and UK firms it’s all about offering global services and solutions to clients,” Mr Chissick said.

According to Legal Business, Fieldfisher has been the fastest-growing, UK-headquartered legal firm in the last five years, seeing its revenue grow by 118 per cent to €239 million between 2013 and 2018.