The U.K. arm of U.S. firm Littler Mendelson has described its debut in Ireland as a move unrelated to Brexit.
GQ Littler has formally opened its Dublin office after it emerged in late 2020 that the employment boutique had registered an entity in the Irish capital.
In a statement on Tuesday, the firm said it had hired partner Niall Pelly to lead the firm. He joins from local player Matheson, after over seven years at the firm, with five spent as partner, according to LinkedIn.
Since the U.K. voted to leave the European Union in 2016, a string of U.K. and U.S. law firms have opened offices in the region, with several stating that the expansion has been spurred on by Brexit. Outfits to make the move include DLA Piper, Dentons, Fieldfisher, and Pinsent Masons in recent years, while U.K. law firm Burges Salmon opened its Dublin base last month.
For GQ Littler, however, its own move was unrelated to Brexit.
Firm founder and managing partner Jon Gilligan said the move was not “some sort of Brexit hedge”, adding that the firm’s play was more driven by ”the greater need for servicing clients with a physical presence there”.
Pelly added that with around 900 Irish companies active in the U.S., and over 600 having a physical U.S. presence with over 100,000 employees, there is ripe opportunity for the firm to offer U.S. legal solutions for those clients.
He said: “The Irish legal market is so dominated by domestic firms that only have a capability for Irish law. But there’s definitely a gap in the market to provide a means for Irish companies to get U.S. law advice.”
Particular client targets for the firm include financial services, technology and pharmaceutical outfits. The pair said the firm’s work in labour and employment law will purely advise company management, rather than employees, which current Irish employment boutiques tend to service.
Jeremy Roth, Littler’s co-managing director, echoed the sentiment, stating that the firm would have opened up regardless of Brexit, pointing to the gap in the Irish market.
“Ireland has always been important, and similarly to Silicon Valley, there will be lots of cross investment. It will be seamless for our client base which is looking for that global solution”, Roth continued.
The firm’s new home at 24 Fitzwilliam Place counts Arthur Cox, Eversheds Sutherland, DLA Piper and Dentons among its law firm neighbours – and the firm expects to grow quickly.
Gilligan added the firm will be targeting expansion in the base, and that he is “fairly confident” that the firm can quickly scale up.
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