EY hires former Eversheds Sutherland Ireland managing partner to launch Irish legal practice

Alan Murphy will head the new unit, which is planning further senior hires in the coming months

EY has hired former Eversheds Sutherland Ireland managing partner Alan Murphy to front the launch of the firm’s new Irish law practice.

EY Law Ireland will initially focus on digital, tech and commercial, corporate M&A, employment and real estate, and will integrate with the firm’s wider professional services network that includes tax, audit and consulting. 

Murphy will be joined by three associate partners who bring with them more than 50 years of collective experience, including real estate lawyer Mairead Finlay, employment lawyer Deidre Malone and corporate M&A lawyer Adam Synnott. Additional senior hires are expected to join in the next month, with plans to hire an equity partner, associate partner and other senior talent early next year.

Frank O’Keeffe, managing partner for EY Ireland, said: “Introducing EY Law Ireland to the market is a natural next step for us as a firm. Not only do we have incredibly successful EY Law operations elsewhere in our global network, but this new proposition aligns closely with our exciting new strategy that is all about serving our clients seamlessly where they need us most.”

O’Keeffe added that Irish organisations are facing an increasingly complex legal and regulatory environment and need greater support to navigate their existing and emerging business issues.

Murphy joins EY after 13 years at Eversheds, most recently as managing partner for its Irish business, as well as previously serving as deputy chair of the firm’s European offices and having a seat on its global board. He left Eversheds at the end of last year, according to his LinkedIn profile, and was unveiled as en equity partner at EY Ireland in July when it announced the appointment of 13 equity partners, two of whom were admitted directly from outside the firm

Finlay joins from Irish firm Lemans, where she was head of international real estate. She also previously had spells at Trowers & Hamlins and Eversheds. Malone joins from Irish firm Nathaniel Lacy & Partners, while Adam Synnott joins from William Fry. 

Murphy, who takes on the title of head of law for EY Ireland, said: “I strongly believe [EY Law Ireland] represents a unique proposition for the Irish market. It is differentiated by its multi-disciplinary offering, its global scale and its depth of local industry expertise. This really is unlike anything else available in the Irish market.”

Ireland head of tax Alan Connell took over from Murphy as Eversheds’ Ireland managing partner in January.

All the Big Four accountancy firms have been building up their legal networks. Research by Lexis Nexis published last month placed EY as having the fewest lawyers at 2,400+, just behind Deloitte (2,500) and KPMG (2,750+). PwC doesn’t disclose how many lawyers it employs, though it has 3,700 legal professionals in total.

Last month, Deloitte’s German legal arm teamed up with German boutique firm Frommer Legal to establish a new law firm focused on defending companies against class actions in Münich while it acquired Genoa-based maritime law boutique Munari Giudici Maniglio Panfili in May and 29-partner London technology firm Kemp Little in November last year.

The Big Four has also been targeting corporate legal department consultancy work. Last week, EY hired the head of legal and compliance solutions at healthcare giant Novartis with a brief to grow its managed legal services capabilities.

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