Allen & Overy, Linklaters and Eversheds Sutherland top Ireland’s ‘Brexit transfer list’

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By CJ McKinney on

As record number of UK-qualified solicitors register in Ireland


Magic circle giant Allen & Overy now has almost 300 lawyers registered in Ireland, leading the way among City firms using the jurisdiction next door to try to keep their solicitors EU-qualified after Brexit.

Linklaters is a close second, with 259 of its solicitors now Irish-qualified to A&O’s 297. Eversheds Sutherland is third on 165, closely followed by FreshfieldsLatham & Watkins and Slaughter and May.

Figures published by the Law Society Gazette Ireland show that 4,000 solicitors from England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have now paid €300 (£260) to register in Ireland since the start of 2016.

The Brexit referendum took place in June that year, casting doubt on the ability of UK-based lawyers to operate seamlessly across the European Union in future. Ireland, however, is to remain an EU member.

This year has seen a record number of people re-qualifying. Almost 1,900 UK solicitors were admitted by the Law Society of Ireland up to 12 November 2019, compared to 737 in 2018.

The overwhelming majority are from England and Wales. Around 20% of the Irish roll of solicitors is now made up of lawyers who originally qualified in this jurisdiction.

The 2020 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

Solicitors who have qualified in England, Wales or Northern Ireland are exempt from the Law Society of Ireland’s transfer test for foreign lawyers.

Registration does not entitle English solicitors to work in Ireland unless they fork over another few grand for a practising certificate. Many have not yet done so: the 20 UK firms with the most Irish-qualified lawyers have around 2,000 people on the roll, but only 500 Irish practising certificates.

The Irish authorities have also thrown a potential spanner in the works by insisting that overseas solicitors hoping to rely on an Irish practising certificate post-Brexit must have a base and professional indemnity insurance in Ireland.

Several UK firms have opened offices in Dublin, while Fieldfisher has gone one better by merging with an Irish firm.

These new branches are getting the thumbs up from Irish lawyers. One Dublin-based trainee tells Legal Cheek that “to the average corporate solicitor this is to the good as it means more opportunity plus greater internal growth and chance for mobility. The British firms all provide really competitive salaries, especially for trainees, and this puts a bit of pressure on the top five Irish firms to up their game”.

The Brexit transfer table: UK firms with the most Irish-qualified solicitors, 2019

Rank Firm Solicitors
1 Allen & Overy 297
2 Linklaters 259
3 Eversheds Sutherland 165
4 Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer 162
5 Latham & Watkins 161
6 Slaughter and May 148
7 White & Case 87
8 DLA Piper 85
9 Dentons 71
10 Herbert Smith Freehills 62
11 Clifford Chance 55
12 Hogan Lovells 52
13 Norton Rose Fulbright 45
14 Baker MacKenzie 44
15 Pinsent Masons 42
16 Google UK 38
17 Bristows 37
18 Bird & Bird 36
19 Skadden Arps Meagher & Flom 34
20 BNP Paribas 32


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