UK law firm Browne Jacobson is opening its first overseas office in Dublin.
The new Dublin office will initially specialise in the technology, media and telecoms (TMT) practice, focusing on digital transformation, data and IP.
Two of the four founding partners are Irish lawyers Jeanne Kelly and Ciaran Markey. Both were formerly with LK Shields and will be permanently based in the Dublin office.
Head of the firm’s commercial and technology group Declan Cushley, from Derry, and London head of technology, outsourcing and digital transformation Kerryman Anthony Nagle work between London and Dublin.
The firm has also appointed senior associate Darragh Killeen, with two further associates joining in the summer.
The firm, which employs more than 1,000 people in the UK, has also appointed Mike Rebeiro as the firm’s TMT and digital transformation consultant.
He was previously head of TMT at Macfarlanes and before that worked at Norton Rose.
“We’ve had quite a few clients who were working in Ireland, and increasingly moving some of their focus to Ireland,” Cushley said.
Some clients, such as construction company Mace, which builds data centres among other things, had indicated they would work with Browne Jacobson if it had an Irish operation.
He said the firm would bring some new pricing models to Ireland.
Nagle said an Irish office had been on the horizon but Brexit played a role.
“We’ve got quite a lot of clients in the UK, who do business all around Europe. Ireland has become the centre of disputes almost for the EU27. We’re now in the middle of it, having a Dublin office.”
There has been a wave of UK legal firms opening here since Brexit, and Cushley said he felt some may struggle. “I suspect it’s not sustainable. It is ultimately, despite all the FDI and an international element to Ireland, a small market.”
Salaries have been pushed up as a result of UK firm openings. “The salary costs are just going through the roof for young associates and the top end of London and Dublin are comparable. And that’s not going to be sustainable either.”
However, he added that company puts an emphasis on social inclusion and has a programme to make the profession more accessible.