Allen & Overy has admitted the most solicitors to the Irish roll over the last year, as law firms race to bolster their ranks in the region before the U.K.’s departure from the European Union.
The Magic Circle firm admitted 76 lawyers to the roll in the country during 2018, taking its tally to 110. Latham & Watkins increased its own numbers by 45, taking it to a total of 92, while Slaughter and May increased by 30 to a total of 109.
The data, which comes from The Law Society of Ireland, shows that since 2016—the year of the Brexit referendum—2,011 U.K. solicitors have been admitted to the Irish roll.
While making no additional admittances between 2017 and 2018, Eversheds Sutherland still has the highest amount of solicitors admitted to the Irish roll, with 132. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer comes in second with 131, now followed by Allen & Overy, which has gone from seventh place in 2017 to third place at the end of 2018.
The data also shows many solicitors taking an additional step in 2018, with a total of 182 solicitors taking out a practicing certificate. While being admitted to the roll is the first step toward the certificate, the certificate acts as a qualification for solicitors to practice Irish law for that year. Although lawyers only have to be admitted to the roll once, they must reapply for their practicing certificate every year.
Freshfields was top for the number of solicitors taking out practicing certificates in 2018, with 69, ahead of Hogan Lovells with 23 and Allen & Overy with 16.
“Solicitors being put on the Irish roll is a distinct question from international firms entering the Irish market,” said DLA Piper Dublin managing partner David Carthy. “It does provide an available and interesting additional qualification for U.K. solicitors who are concerned about EU legal work in some potential post-Brexit scenarios.”
These figures demonstrate the increasing importance of the Irish legal market with Brexit fast approaching. The greatest flux of lawyers being admitted came with the vote in 2016, bringing the total number for that year to 833 for lawyers across all U.K. regions.
Admitting lawyers to the Irish roll is not the only action firms have taken since 2016 to build up their presence in the country. Pinsent Masons, Covington & Burling and Simmons & Simmons have also recently launched offices in Dublin, and DLA Piper is due to open in the capital this year. Fieldfisher is also expected to be making its debut in the country, after recently announcing that it is in advanced talks to launch a Dublin office.