Legal behemoth DLA Piper has today announced it is opening in Dublin to capitalise on an expected increase in the number of financial services institutions in the Irish capital post-Brexit.
The global giant will be by far the most significant law firm to open in Dublin since the Brexit vote as legal firms look to cater to an expected movement of their clients to Ireland and to develop a base in an English speaking country that will remain in the European Union after the UK's exit.
Other law firms to open bases in Dublin since the Brexit vote include UK firms Pinsent Masons, Simmons & Simmons and Lewis Silkin and US firm Covington & Burling, but DLA, with revenue of $2.634bn (£1.87bn) in 2017, is by far the largest to make the move.
Speaking to City A.M. DLA senior partner Andrew Darwin said: “It is a market we have looked at a lot over a number of years but what created a new impetus was Brexit.
“This is not just a response to Brexit but certainly we see Dublin will become a more important market as a result of Brexit and for us that brought an additional dimension that wasn’t there before.
“It is very international, it has sectors we like such as technology, life sciences, insurance and financial services. It is a very strong market from a US perspective with lots of US corporates, but it is also a very mature market and Brexit made the difference about giving us the impetus to look again.”
The firm has announced the hire of its new Ireland head David Carthy who joins from leading Irish firm William Fry.
Carthy is a corporate partner and head of William Fry's foreign direct investment and life sciences and healthcare groups.
it is understood that Carthy will have to serve his notice period at William Fry meaning that DLA may not open its office in Dublin until the end of 2018 or early 2019.
Darwin would not indicate how many lawyers DLA is planning on recruiting or how much office space the firm was planning on taking, but he did say that the firm had engaged property agents to find its new base in Dublin.
“We don’t want to be the largest firm in Dublin, we want to make sure we build it so it's aligned with those sectors that are core to us and around core practice groups. Corporate, financial services, technology and tax will be our main areas initially.”
Darwin said that DLA had thought about approaching local firms for a merger but decided a greenfield strategy was the best approach.
“We thought about it [a merger] but the top end firms are too large and in our view the best way to build it is from the ground up,” he said.
Darwin also confirmed that DLA’s relationship with Irish firm Mason Hayes & Curran had come to and end.
“There is no longer an official relationship but its an amicable situation and they have been very gracious and supportive,” he said.