Fieldfisher in Dublin merger as “Brexit refugees” on roll grows

As Brexit limps along law another big-name firm enters Irish market, while Ireland's law society says list of “Brexit refugees” is growing.


Fieldfisher has announced a merger with Dublin-based McDowell Purcell, citing it as a ‘business friendly’ EU jurisdiction. The firm will merge with top-20 Irish firm McDowell Purcell from 1 May.

“Last piece”

The news follows on from previous irish announcements. In February, US law firm Clark Hill announced a strategic tie-up with Dublin-based O’Gradys Solicitors. London-based Simmons & Simmons opened its first Irish office last year. Global legal firms Eversheds and the Maples Group, formerly Maples and Calder, have also recently entered the market. The 120-year-old firm McDowell Purcell has 16 partners and 50 lawyers, specialising in corporate and commercial, renewable energy, banking & finance, litigation and dispute resolution and has a regulatory practice. Michael Chissick, managing partner at Fieldfisher, said Ireland was the ’last piece’ in the firm’s international growth strategy. He explained, “Ireland is also one of the most successful economies in the EU. Of course, with Brexit on the horizon, it will also help us to continue to deliver services to our European clients. Our US clients, and tech companies in particular, regard Ireland as a business-friendly EU jurisdiction.” McDowell Purcell managing partner JP McDowell added “We have worked collaboratively with Fieldfisher for a number of years now, and as a result of the strong relationship that has developed between the two firms, this merger is a natural fit for us.’ He added that the merger will allow it to compete with global firms that are now establishing a foothold in the Irish legal market.” The addition of McDowell Purcell brings the number of Fieldfisher offices to 25 including in Amsterdam, Brussels, Frankfurt, Madrid, Paris and Rome. The firm also has offices in Beijing and Shanghai and Silicon Valley, US.

"Brexit refugees"

Some firms have had lawyers move in name only. The number of solicitors looking to join the Irish roll in anticipation of Brexit show 630 applications were being processed from English and Welsh solicitors seeking admissions to the register of Irish solicitors, according to figures released last month by the Law Society of Ireland. This is in addition to the 605 solicitors in England and Wales already admitted on to the roll this year. UK-based solicitors now represent more than 14 per cent of all solicitors on the Irish roll. There are 2,770 British-based solicitors, the vast majority from England and Wales, among the 19,315 solicitors on the Irish register. Some 737 solicitors from the UK joined the roll in 2018 after 576 were admitted in 2017 and 833 in 2016. “Brexit refugees, we jokingly call them, but of course they are not actually here,” said Ken Murphy, director general of the Law Society. “They are simply people who have come on the roll. They are still at their desks in London or Luxembourg.” Less than 250 solicitors based in England and Wales have taken out a certificate to practise in Ireland, he said.

Email your news and story ideas to: [email protected]