Big Six law firms grow staff numbers by 30pc since 2011
The country's elite top six law firms have grown their staff by 30pc since 2011, while smaller and rural firms still have yet to see signs of recovery.
The number of solicitors working for Big Six firms has jumped by nearly 30pc in four years, new data from the Law Society shows.
The six - government favourite Arthur Cox, A&L Goodbody, Matheson, McCann Fitzgerald, William Fry and Mason Hayes & Curran - employed a total of 1,355 practising solicitors at the end of last year. That is an increase of 6pc on the year before and 29pc on 2011, when they employed just over 1,000 solicitors.
Blackstone advisor Arthur Cox has employed more solicitors than anyone else for the last three years, adding 11 during 2014 and ending the year with a total of 269 solicitors on staff. But Mason Hayes and Curran saw the largest growth during 2014, taking on 31 to a total of 178.
Matheson added 27, bringing its solicitor total to 238 (the second largest firm) while McCann FizGerald took on 20 to a total of 2014 (making it fourth largest).
The pace of hiring was much slower outside of those very large firms, the data showed.
But almost all of the top 20 added rather than shed solicitors this year.
Other big gainers included Maples and Calder, Eversheds and Walkers Ireland.
Head of the Law Society Ken Murphy said the figures were not representative of the profession.
"These figures are in no way typical of the profession as a whole. There are currently just over 2,200 solicitors' firms in Ireland, with 17pc of them sole practitioners. Many are still hanging on by their fingernails and have yet to see any real signs of recovery.
"The experience of large business law-oriented firms is completely atypical and at large with the experience of the majority. Yes, these are very encouraging growth figures for these large commercial law firms - but the experience of the profession in general has been very different."
Last week the European Commission dropped moves to make the Government slash the cost of legal proceedings and make the legal sector more efficient.
High costs and the need for reform of the legal profession and other "sheltered sectors" of the economy had long been a bug-bear of the Troika during the bailout. But the Commission's latest country-specific recommendations for Ireland focuses on four key areas only - deficit and debt reduction, health costs, jobs and mortgages.
Meanwhile, the long-delayed Legal Services Bill, introduced in 2011, has now reached the Seanad. It proposes a set of legal costs principles and a costs adjudicator whose decisions will be made public.
Sunday Indo Business