Sean Cully, Senior Associate, discusses the Dublin private practice market in 2022 and market predictions for 2023...

From Sean Cully

The Dublin legal employment market remained buoyant in 2022, after a very busy 2021, with the outlook for 2023 looking much the same.

Evelyn Partners carried out a survey of 108 law firms in September and October 2022 and respondents, particularly the large and Dublin-based firms, regard recruitment and retention of staff as a key concern. The challenges include losing recently qualified solicitors lured to London-based firms by “eye watering” six-figure salaries and a those moving in-house.

Competition among firms in the Dublin market has been fierce and due to a shortage of candidates, a number of firms are now looking further afield to attract talent, with candidates from Australian, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa being placed at a number of firms.

In 2022, lawyers in the areas of Corporate, Finance, Tax, Financial Regulation and Technology have remained in high demand at all levels, with candidates in Funds seeing some of the largest salary increases. However, that isn’t to say strong candidates in other areas aren’t in demand, BCL have made placements across all practice areas, including Private Client and Commercial Litigation.

Dublin is fast becoming ‘London by the Liffey’ with UK or international firms now comprising seven of the top 20 firms here. Half of the top 30 UK law firms have now opened offices in Dublin. In addition to Eversheds Sutherland, Fieldfisher, DAC Beachcroft, Walkers and Maples Group, Hogan Lovells, Bird & Bird, Taylor Wessing, Browne Jacobson, DLA Piper, and Dentons have all established Irish offices in recent years, while Addleshaw Goddard entered the market in 2022 following its merger with Eugene F. Collins. This demonstrates the increasing recognition of the important role Ireland’s globally-connected economy plays in Europe.

With these new ambitious arrivals, the options for lawyers have never been better. While the lion's share of recruitment still takes place among the domestic top tier firms, in 2022 candidates had a lot more choice as to the type of firm and team they wanted. While some prefer to go for the larger and more established teams at the Top 5, others are attracted to the big international firms and the opportunity to help shape the Irish offering. There is also a notable increase in candidates from the larger firms considering a move to one of the many top quality mid-tier firms which can offer progression and a better work life balance.

Despite the difficulties faced by firms in 2022, revenue increased for 93 per cent of the top 20 firms with continued growth projected for 2023.

Connect with Dublin market specialist, Sean Cully via LinkedIn

Also read BCL's 2022 salary round-up for: