Addleshaw Goddard to merge with leading Irish law firm

Largest UK/Irish tie-up to date sees 25-partner Eugene F Collins absorbed by UK national
Modern buildings and offices on Liffey river in Dublin on a bright sunny day

Shutterstock; anyaivanova

Top 25 UK law firm Addleshaw Goddard has announced it will merge with Dublin-based firm Eugene F Collins, with the business, people and all of the Irish firm’s 25 partners to become part of Addleshaw by the start of March.  

Addleshaws said the addition of a well-established firm like Eugene F Collins alongside its offices in Germany and France extends its influence throughout the main business centres in Europe and brings its international office count to 10.

Eugene F Collins brings more than 100 legal professionals to Addleshaws, which said it plans to more than double the size of the business in Ireland over the next three to five years. It expects the merger to particularly strengthen its financial services, real estate, retail and consumer, tech and life science practices.

Addleshaws is a late entrant into Ireland's legal market when compared to key rivals like Eversheds Sutherland – which entered Dublin in 2005 by way of an alliance with O'Donnell Sweeney – and Pinsent Masons – which opened for business in 2017 via a crop of lateral hires. However, its success in persuading a firm of Eugene F Collins' size and pedigree to join forces with it – losing its name in the process – looks like a landmark deal.

The only comparable deal is Fieldfisher's merger with 16-partner McDowell Purcell in 2019, the same year that accountants Smith & Williamson revealed that 80% of Ireland's top 20 firms had reported merger approaches from UK firms looking to gain a presence in Ireland in the wake of Brexit. Since then a host of firms have opened offices in Ireland's capital, a process largely, but by no means exclusively, driven by the need to gain an EU foothold for London-based teams with strong EU law connections such as IP, regulatory and competition law. 

In a joint statement, John Joyce, managing partner of Addleshaws, and Mark Walsh, managing partner of Eugene F Collins, said: "This is an exciting moment for both firms, driven by the recognition that there is a shared commitment to finding the smartest ways of delivering business impact to clients of all sizes in Ireland, Europe and beyond."

Joyce added that a presence in Dublin creates opportunities with more UK and international businesses doing business in Ireland, describing it as a “key jurisdiction”.

“It is a global hub for world-leading, fast-growing businesses in a range of sectors including financial services, tech and life sciences and establishing a presence here fulfils a need we've been looking at for some time.

“The obvious strategic and cultural fit between Addleshaws and Eugene F Collins makes this a logical and attractive proposition for both firms. They are a terrific business and we look forward to sharing the benefits with new and existing clients," he added.

Walsh will lead Addleshaws in Ireland and said the combination brings scale and depth of expertise to Irish-based clients.

“The ability to operate on a global platform in markets which are important to our clients makes good sense for all staff and clients of Eugene F Collins. Combining forces on innovation and legal tech will also enhance our national practice and position the new business very well for further growth,” he said.

Eugene F Collins acts for a number of blue chip clients including Johnson & Johnson, Vodafone and Dow Chemicals. The two firms have some clients in common, particularly in the financial services, retail and consumer and real estate sectors, although described their portfolios as ‘largely complementary’. In recent months transactional teams from each firm have collaborated on a number of assignments, which Addleshaws said reinforced the view the combination would be successful.

Addleshaws' merger with Eugene F Collins comes one year after the firm hired 18 lawyers from Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner (BCLP) and four from K&L Gates to launch in Paris, having entered continental Europe in 2019 when it added a 10 lawyer team from BCLP to launch in Hamburg.

Last July, Addleshaws reported a 12% increase in revenue to £321m against a 23% rise in protit-per-equity-partner to £849,000, according to Global Legal Post's UK law firm results tracker.

News of the merger comes on the same day that Bird & Bird became the latest UK firm to announce plans to open in Dublin.


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