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Sunday 22 September 2019

Brexit and Trump fail to dent earning power of lawyers

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Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

Ireland's 'Big Seven' law firms earned €35.5m between them from the State last year.

The cash was paid for a variety of services, including representation in court, the handling of personal injury, clinical and general negligence cases, guidance on regulatory, arbitration and conciliation services, and advice on transport infrastructure projects and employment disputes.

But this was just a fraction of their overall earnings of €720.2m in 2016.

The sums earned by the seven firms were equivalent to almost one-third of the €2.3bn generated annually by the Irish legal sector.

The revenue figures, estimated by analysts at specialist UK publication 'The Lawyer', make it abundantly clear the major Irish firms are in rude financial health.

Their European 100 report noted that even though business slowed as a result of uncertainty caused by the Brexit vote and the election of US President Donald Trump, this "did not result in a poor year, just a slower one than the recent run of incredibly busy years reported in Dublin".

Revenues at Arthur Cox were said to be up 7pc to €144m, A&L Goodbody up 4pc to €138.3m, McCann FitzGerald up 2pc to €121m, William Fry up 4pc to €88.4m, and Mason Hayes & Curran up 7pc to €77m.

Dillon Eustace remained unchanged with revenues of €36.5m, while Matheson was the only one of the seven where revenue decreased, down 10pc to €115m.

Another interesting measurement of how the top Irish firms are doing is average revenue per lawyer.

Across the seven top Irish firms, 'The Lawyer' calculated the average revenue generated per lawyer at €420,070.

This placed Ireland seventh out of 15 countries examined in the report, with higher revenue per lawyer than in the leading firms in Denmark (€400,480), the Netherlands (€387,070), France (€353,180), Sweden (€349,340), Finland (€342,140), Spain (€298,140), Belgium (€260,160), Austria (€240,160) and Portugal (€225,170).

The top Irish firms were only behind those in Switzerland (€624,200), Russia (€569,440), Germany (€497,460), Italy (€482,180), Norway (€451,280) and Luxembourg (€427,350) in terms of revenue per lawyer.

A feature of all of the leading Irish firms was their focus on international business as well as domestic.

All seven have offices in New York and only Dillon Eustace doesn't have an office in London. It does, however, have offices in the Cayman Islands and Tokyo.

A big focus for some of the firms is the tech industry, with Arthur Cox having a base in Silicon Valley and A&L Goodbody with offices in San Francisco and Palo Alto. Mason Hayes & Curran also has a presence in San Francisco, while Matheson has one in Palo Alto.

The report said Ireland stood out in terms of gender diversity, with McCann FitzGerald the only big firm where women made up less than 30pc of the partners.

Irish Independent

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