Irish mid-tier corporate law firm Eugene F Collins has agreed to merge with London-based Addleshaw Goddard, which will result in the 129-year-old name being dropped as it sets its sights on doubling in size over the next five years.
The deal will involve Eugene F Collins's 25 partners, led by Mark Walsh, becoming partners of the wider Addleshaw Goddard group, which currently has 297 partners. The combination is expected to close by March 1st, the Irish firm's wider 100-strong staff were told on Thursday morning, after the partners voted this week in favour of the tie-up.
“This merger with Addleshaw Goddard provides us with an exciting opportunity to grow our business, better serve our clients and provide our team with new and interesting opportunities,” said Mr Walsh, managing partner of Eugene F Collins.
“Over time we have built up a strong working relationship with Addleshaw Goddard, working side by side, allowing us to gain a better understanding of our respective business, culture, and people which has helped form this merger.”
While there has been a flurry of activity in the legal sector with UK and US firms entering the Irish market to position themselves for the fallout from Brexit, Mr Walsh told The Irish Times that this combination – which has been in the works for two years – is more to do with the increasingly complex nature of international trade.
“We want to give our clients a better offering and a more opportunities to tap into other jurisdictions,” Mr Walsh said. “Addleshaw Goddard see Ireland as an important location for technology and pharmaceuticals and they want to be here.”
Addleshaw Goddard, which has six offices in the UK and a number of locations in Asia and the Middle East, entered the continental European market in 2019 by opening an office in Hamburg, Germany. It followed up last year by setting up a base in Paris.
The Irish firm’s founder, Eugene F Collins, set up the law practice in 1893. The full-service firm’s key sectors include hospitality, retail, financial services, real estate, construction, life sciences and pharmaceuticals.
The firm is on the legal panels of AIB and Bank of Ireland and counts retailers Marks & Spencer, Zara and JD Sports as well as the Health Products Regulatory Authority on its list of clients.
Mr Walsh said the Irish office plans to beef up its presence in the areas of tax, infrastructure and technology following the merger.
A number of overseas law firms have decided to set up operations in the Republic to maintain business in an English-speaking EU jurisdiction since UK voters decided in June 2016 to quit the union. These include Pinsent Masons, DLA Piper and Simmons & Simmons, all based in London, as well as US firms Tully Rinckey and Covington & Burling.
Dentons, the world's biggest law firm, also set up a base in the State in 2020. However, it said that the move had little to do with Brexit and more of a result of Dublin's position as a leading centre for offshore funds, aircraft leasing and technology.