Sean Cully
Sean Cully
Senior Associate

Articles From the Team

Nothing but continued growth of opportunities for lawyers in Dublin

Opportunities for lawyers in Dublin have never been better; if you are interested in finding out what it can offer you and your specific circumstances it may be worth arranging a confidential chat with Sean at BCL Legal who specialises in placing lawyers at all levels at both the domestic and international firms in Dublin.

Chris Jorgenson, BARBRI’s senior director of institutional partnerships, recently discussed the legal market here with a panel of lawyers and why Dublin offers a wealth of opportunities.

Ireland’s place in the global legal market

The trend of international law firms setting up shop in Ireland shows no signs of slowing — with the likes of DLA PiperDechert and most recently, Addleshaw Goddard, all extending their operations into Dublin, the Irish legal market is rapidly expanding. Enda Cullivan, partner in the corporate team at Eversheds Sutherland, observed that because of this, “the market for traineeships is different now to when I was starting out — and in ten years, it will probably look very different to how it does now”. Although the influx in international outfits entering Ireland is creating increased competition, Aaron Boyle, partner and head of infrastructure, construction and utilities at Arthur Cox, did not believe this spelled danger for independent domestic firms. When international firms come to Ireland, “the hardest thing to replicate is domestic expertise in very specialist areas”, which Irish firms focus on. We are “at the cutting edge and top of our game in these key areas”.

Going for growth

With the pandemic slowing down some sectors, the panel were asked to consider areas they anticipated growing over the next five years. Laura Deignan of McCann Fitzgerald offered ESG and sustainability, funds and aviation as sectors which would only continue to grow. But for Brian O’Malley, partner in the restructuring & insolvency team at A&L Goodbody, “it would be remiss not to factor restructuring and insolvency into what the economic cycle will look like in the next five years”. With governments providing support for businesses throughout the pandemic — a crucial lifeline for some — once this is removed, this is likely to affect the restructuring and insolvency landscape as the effect “works its way through the system”, O’Malley explained.

The Brexit benefit

When asked to consider the effects of Brexit, Deignan commented that the concerns in the market that were anticipated had been yet to materialise. She observed that it was “business as usual, albeit with a few bumps in the road”. These bumps, namely shifts to practical considerations in a transaction, did not however give rise to any “major hold on deals or anything we’ve been doing”, she added.

Further, O’Malley remarked that though the long-term effects are still uncertain, “Brexit, in a sense, has actually been good for jurisdictions like Ireland and France in terms of the relocation and re-domestication of some lines of business”. This includes the insurance and banking sectors as well as “some movement to the passporting of funds”, he explained. Another benefit O’Malley said Brexit has brought to his sector, is the increase in the Irish judiciary’s openness to embrace complex matters that would have been unfamiliar to the jurisdiction only a few years prior. The jurisprudential value brought by these cases “is pushing Dublin’s confidence in saying that we are a jurisdiction that you can restructure complex and high value deals”.

Agile working

With Covid restrictions easing, and offices opening up again, the future world of work is a key consideration among law firms. Emma Doherty, partner and member of the US business and inward investment groups at Matheson, revealed that remote working had already been part of the firm prior to Covid, so the shift was “seamless”. But she also admitted that the inability to work through things together in-person and the process of “learning by osmosis” (the idea that junior employees pick up information from their seniors when immersed in the office) presented some challenges.

However, overall, she felt that the pandemic had “kickstarted a whole transformation in the legal industry and I don’t think we’re ever going back”. Doherty added that the change to the delivery of services, the training of people and the way people work together was here to stay. This transformation has brought legal professionals more in line with their clients and that has, in turn, brought these relationships closer.

The vast majority of BCL’s clients have now implemented a hybrid working policy with 2-3 days in the office and the rest remotely.

Salaries

With regard to salaries in the legal sector the race is on for legal talent and the majority of firms increase their NQ salaries in 2021 to prevent their trainees from leaving upon qualification. There is also a growing amount of flexibility in terms of what firms are willing to offer. The banded salary model for Associates often does not exist when it comes to a specialist lawyer or a strong candidate returning from London. When it comes to senior candidates, your salary offer will often come down to a business case.

Salaries at all levels have seen a notable increase over the past 12 months with may firms offering further incentives such as welcome bonuses and covering relocation costs to secure the right talent in a very competitive market.

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