Bird & Bird becomes latest UK firm to launch in Dublin

Office focused on data protection, tech, life sciences, IP and corporate law set to open this summer

Bird & Bird has announced it will open an office in Dublin this summer, becoming the latest in a number of UK firms to look to the Irish capital post Brexit.

The firm described the opening as ‘a natural step’, with the city playing host to the European headquarters or significant operations of some of the world’s largest tech and life sciences companies, including Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Apple, Paypal and Airbnb.

The new office will initially focus on privacy and data protection, tech, life sciences, IP and corporate law. Bird & Bird said that Irish specialists in these areas would be joining the firm this summer and work closely with partners in its wider network ‘to establish a strong Irish and international practice from the get-go’, though a spokesperson declined to specify how many.

Roger Bickerstaff, a partner in Bird & Bird’s tech and communications team based in its London and San Francisco offices, will initially head the office with London-based life sciences and healthcare partner Sally Shorthose. The firm said they will work closely with the new team on the ground to integrate them into its international network and support the projected rapid growth of the office.

Belfast-based partner Stuart Cairns, co-head of the international projects and procurement group, as well as Francine Cunningham, director of the regulatory and public affairs practice in Brussels, will also spend significant periods of time in the new Dublin office.

Bird & Bird CEO David Kerr said: “Our clients are some of the most innovative businesses in the world, at the cutting edge of technology and the digital world. Our firm has always grown in line with our clients’ needs, so opening an office in Dublin – a vibrant market which is playing an increasingly significant international role across many industries - is a natural next step for us.”

A number of prominent UK firms have looked to Dublin recently in the wake of the post-Brexit restrictions on UK-based lawyers practising EU law from Ireland without having a physical presence in the country.

Bristol-based firm Burges Salmon opened there at the end of 2020 so that its intellectual property practice could continue its EU trade mark offering, while Ashurst headed there last March to more easily maintain its EU competition law practice, which had previously been based in London.

Hogan Lovells also set up shop in Dublin last March, with the firm saying at the time the office would initially focus on practice areas with strong EU law connections such as financial services and regulatory and competition law.

Last November, Bird & Bird’s partners elected commercial law specialist Christian Bartsch to succeed David Kerr as the firm's next CEO, signalling the end of Kerr’s marathon 26 years at the helm of the firm. Bartsch, who is co-head of the financial services sector group and chair of the risk committee, will take over from Kerr on 1 April.

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