More than 100 years of service in the ever-changing field of law
Business: Reddy Charlton
Set up: 1908
Founder: Charles J Reddy
No of Employees: 28
Location: Fitzwilliam Place, Dublin
IN this little country of ours with a population of just under 5 million, there is a surprisingly large number of solicitors. The community is 18,000 strong with 10,500 of them practising. Of this number, 82pc are in a professional practice with the remainder practising in-house in commercial organisations.
There are more foreign firms setting up shop in Ireland, most likely for two reasons. One is to follow their large international clients who are basing themselves in Ireland, the other is to secure an EU base in a post-Brexit world. This is certainly an industry that is experiencing significant change.
Reddy Charlton is one of Dublin’s oldest firms of solicitors. Founded by Charles J Reddy in 1908it prides itself on three principles — integrity, clarity and passion. ‘Integrity’ is about putting the client first in all matters, being supportive and even challenging when necessary.
‘Clarity’ is essential given that the average lay-person can get bamboozled by legal jargon and the complexities of the law. Reddy Charlton takes as much time as necessary to ensure clients are comfortable in their understanding. As for ‘passion’, it invests significant time on each matter.
Paul Keane, the managing partner at the firm’s offices in Fitzwilliam Place, in Dublin, said: “With the big firms getting larger, there is definitely an opportunity for a top-quality, medium-sized firm.
“The firm won Dublin Law Firm of the Year in 2016, in 2017 and Property Firm of the Year in 2018.”
With a team of 28 including seven partners, it provides services to a wide array of clients in many sectors such as retail, hospitality, property development, construction and IT. It also acts for many sporting organisations such as the GAA in the redevelopment of Croke Park, and the National Handball and Croke Park Community Centre.
THE BUSINESS MODEL
In addition to being a client of law firms over the years, I have also consulted with a number of practices.
The big firms have ‘departments’ that specialise in various services but smaller firms have to be more focused in their offering.
Reddy Charlton specialises in five key areas of expertise. One is dealing in and development of property. Another is corporate/commercial, helping clients with ensuring relationships with third parties are clearly defined and each is accountable. Complex litigation and disputes is another, the firm always keen to promote resolution outside of the court system. Two other specialities are employment regulation and private client work.
There is a subtlety about how this profession develops and grows its own business. Overt advertising and promotion is not the norm, yet just like any other business, it is entitled to and must make a profit. Being of medium size and personable, most of the business over the years has come through referrals.
“Do what you do well and the results will follow. Of course we have financial commitments as a business, but they do not clash with our core principles of putting the client first,” said Paul Keane.
Some of the activities that the firm uses to promote its brand include speaking, events and publications.
To promote its international business, it founded Interleges, a network of top-class law firms throughout the world. This gives it an extended service offering for its own international clients. And being the only member based in Ireland, it also attracts business from that network.
Major areas of current practice in the industry such as company law, employment and sports, were practically unknown a generation ago. In as much as the industry has changed over the years, with the volume, speed of correspondence and pace of work increasing, there is much more to come. Technology too will play an even bigger part in the future with machine learning and robotics. Conveyancing for example is becoming more of a commodity service and technology will undoubtedly introduce automation to that.
For Reddy Charlton in particular, it intends to be innovative and to be abreast of these changes. But not at the expense of the personal touch. As the next generation of partners prepares for change, they will strive to protect its DNA and bring it to a new level.