Dentons expands in Dublin with triple partner hire

Addition of energy and projects and M&A lawyers follow global giant's launch in the city in 2020

Dentons has hired a trio of lawyers from Allen & Overy, Shearman & Sterling and Gilbert + Tobin for its Dublin office. 

The additions of energy and projects lawyer Colm Ó hUiginn and corporate M&A duo David McGuiness and Michael McDonald bring Dentons’ partner count in Dublin up to 10. The office, which opened in 2020, now boasts 26 lawyers in total. 

All three have been promoted to partner upon moving to Dentons. Ó hUiginn, who joins from Shearman & Sterling’s London office, was counsel at his former firm, while McGuiness worked as a senior associate at Allen & Overy in Dubai. 

McDonald, meanwhile, joins from Australia’s Gilbert + Tobin where he was a corporate advisory consultant in Sydney. Before that, he spent four years as a solicitor at Irish firm William Fry. 

Paul Jarvis, Dentons’ CEO for the UK, Ireland and the Middle East, said the new arrivals brought “clout and dynamism” to the firm’s expanding Irish team. He pointed to the recent promotion of corporate partner Ciaran O’Boyle as a further sign of the firm’s promise in the country.  

Dentons went somewhat against type when it set up its own shop in Dublin rather than launching there through a merger – generally considered to be the firm’s expansion method of choice. 

The firm has made a crop of lateral hires from top local firms to staff the office, adding M&A and private equity specialist Eavan Saunders as managing partner from William Fry in 2020 along with structured finance lawyer Peter O’Brien from Matheson to serve as office chair. 

The following year William Fry’s head of real estate, Andrew Muckian, and the firm’s head of corporate, Shane O'Donnell, also made the move, as did transactions partner Maireadh Dale, who joined from A&L Goodbody. 

On the latest hires, Saunders said: “I'm delighted to welcome them to the firm as we continue to differentiate ourselves, delivering the world's largest law firm to corporate Ireland.”

A number of international firms have opened in Dublin over the past few years, motivated in part by post-Brexit restrictions on UK-based lawyers practising EU law from Ireland without having a physical presence in the country.

Other firms to have set up shop in the Irish capital recently include Burges Salmon, Ashurst, Hogan Lovells, Taylor Wessing and Bird & Bird. All of them established their own office rather than launching through a merger with a local firm, which remains a rare occurrence in the Irish market despite the fact that in 2019 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.

However, there have been a few noteworthy mergers of late in an indication that this may be changing. 

In February top 25 UK law firm Addleshaw Goddard announced it was merging with well-established Dublin firm Eugene F Collins, which saw the latter’s business, people and all 25 partners become part of Addleshaws. 

Up to that point the only comparable deal was Fieldfisher's 2019 merger with 16-partner McDowell Purcell.

Then in March offshore giant Ogier announced it was set to combine with eight-partner Dublin firm Leman in a major – and rare – foray into an onshore market. The deal saw Leman’s 52-strong team join forces with Ogier’s roughly 850 employees and 90 partners based across a network of offices in Europe, the Caribbean and Asia. 

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