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Global clients want global law firms, says asset funds lawyer
Fionán Breathnach

26 Apr 2022 / corporate law Print

Global clients want global law firms – funds lawyer

The strength of the firm’s asset-management and investment funds practice made Dublin a natural candidate for any expansion plans, he points out.

“A lot of our significant asset-management and financial institution clients see Ireland as increasingly important in their international planning,” he notes.

While not welcoming Brexit, the asset-management specialist lawyer welcomes the opportunities it has brought for this country, as an English-speaking common-law jurisdiction with a strong commercial court.

Higher-value jobs have found their way to Ireland as a result of Britain’s exit from the EU, he believes.

40 fee-earners

Simmons now has over 50 staff in its Grand Canal Dock office, with 40 fee-earners. The focus is on the asset-management, investment funds and financial-institution sectors, with practices in funds, financial regulation, banking and finance, capital markets, tax, corporate real estate, and dispute resolution.

Breathnach has moved from the top-five firm Mason Hayes & Curran LLP, which he joined in 2003 to set up their funds and financial-regulation practice.

The Trinity law graduate qualified as a solicitor in 1995 and trained at William Fry. He also worked in-house within the funds industry for the Bank of Bermuda, now HSBC.

Over the span of his career, Breathnach has witnessed phenomenal growth in asset management.

“To be fair, the funds industry has proved to be extremely resilient. It's only in more recent years that its importance to the Irish economy has been acknowledged, with something in the region of 17,000 people directly employed by around 180 companies.

"When you add other indirect jobs, including lawyers and other professional services, that employment figure rises to 32,000 employed either directly or indirectly, and they are good, high-value jobs, helping to contribute around €914 million annually in taxes to the Irish Exchequer.”

Opportunities for young lawyers

Another result of Brexit is significantly more opportunities for young lawyers here, he adds, as international asset managers and financial institutions looked for post-Brexit solutions.

His clients find Ireland appealing, given both its proximity and familiarity, although Breathnach has no doubt that London will continue to be a key global financial centre.

“The Central Bank of Ireland is hugely highly regarded among our clients,” he notes.

“To have a robust regulatory framework, in terms of prudential supervision, is key,” he adds.

The offer to lead the Simmons & Simmons office in Dublin was attractive for the opportunity that it gave to work with global teams, Breathnach says.

The 125-year-old law firm has a culture of collaboration, a dispersed global equity partnership arrangement, and an acknowledgement of work-life balance that was very appealing to him.

Being able to call upon a broader range of expertise is also “energising”, and brings quicker solutions for clients, he says.

'Matrix of different firms'

“That kind of globalised, dynamic work environment is very stimulating and has been really rewarding for us.

“I think clients that are operating in international sectors are increasingly going to be looking for law firms that can support them, so that they are not dealing with a matrix of different firms and different countries.

The firm is also examining what a next-generation law firm should look like with, turning over questions of hybrid work, among other matters.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland