Simmons set to become third international firm to open in Dublin since Brexit vote

Simmons & Simmons has hired a partner from Mason Hayes & Curran to spearhead a launch in Dublin.

Simmons has hired the Irish firm’s head of investment funds and financial regulation, Fionan Breathnach, ahead of the planned opening.

Breathnach has been at Mason Hayes since 2003. He was previously an associate at PwC legacy law firm Landwell and also spent time in-house at banking giant HSBC.

The Dublin base will represent the first new office for Simmons since 2015, when it opened in Luxembourg. Before that, it launched bases in Munich and Singapore in 2013. However, it has also shut its doors in locations such as Rome in 2015 and Abu Dhabi in 2016.

Simmons managing partner Jeremy Hoyland told Legal Week: “We are going to be opening an office in Dublin. It will focus initially on our asset management clients. We already service those clients in Singapore and Luxembourg but Ireland is a key jurisdiction for fund formation and it is a gap in our offering that we are keen to close. It is currently an important location and it will become more important going forward due to the referendum result.

“Brexit is obviously a fluid situation and we are trying to stay at the forefront of changes. There is a lot of uncertainty.”

The timing and further details of the launch are yet to be confirmed, however Hoyland said the office could become full service over time.

Mason Hayes managing partner Declan Black said: “Fionan has made a great contribution to MHC over the years and he will retain many friends here when he leaves. We wish him the very best of fortune.”

The Irish legal market has become increasingly attractive for UK and international firms since the Brexit vote last year.

Like their major clients in the banking sector, many law firms have been examining their post-Brexit footprints to ensure they continue to have access to the European Union (EU) single market and the EU’s courts and decision-making bodies when the UK leaves the EU.

Last month, Legal Week revealed that US firm Covington & Burling is currently waiting for regulatory clearance from the Irish Law Society to launch a life sciences and technology-focused office in Dublin.

Earlier this year, Pinsent Masons opened in Dublin with the hire of three partners from local firms, making it the first international firm to open in Ireland following last year’s Brexit vote.

Other UK and international firms with bases in the Irish capital include Eversheds Sutherland; DWF, which hired William Fry corporate partner Ross Little last year to launch a full-service practice; insurance players DAC Beachcroft, Kennedys and BLM; US firm Dechert; and offshore firms Maples & Calder and Walkers.

Local partners also expect global giant DLA Piper to enter the market. Earlier this year, the firm’s senior partner Juan Picon told Legal Week: “Post-Brexit, there will be more institutions looking to have a presence in Ireland, so opening there would be consistent with our strategy.”