Doing things southern style

Irish firms are always happy to speculate on how their competitors are doing. McCann Fitzgerald is frequently the topic of such conversation, probably due in part to their move out of the centre of legal Dublin into the International Financial Services Centre. Whilst William Fry and Arthur Cox is frequently quoted as being involved in the major transactions, McCann's is less frequently mentioned although this may have as much to do with the fact that the firm is more difficult to monitor as it is located at the other end of Dublin. The firm's Brussels office is reportedly busy as is its London office although this has scaled down since the heady days of its representation of GPA. It is also very strong in financial services work.

Mason Hayes Curran is said to be “on the up” and “doing a number of the right things” and the bigger firms are taking note of MHC's claim to clients that it can offer a more personalised service.

Matheson Ormsby Prentice has moved up a place in this year's table, knocking William Fry into fifth place. The firm added another six fee-earners to its numbers although significantly, no extra partners. William Fry has five fewer feearners than last year but two extra partners.

Mathesons is obviously benefiting from its association with Heinz chief Tony O Reilly, the chief executive of the firm and is picking up work from his companies including Independent Newspapers, Fitzwilton PLC and Arcon PLC.The firm is unbdoubtedly involved in the competition issues of Independent Newspapers attempt to gain control of the Irish Press.

The age old question of whether Mathesons is a second tier firm is still being asked but seems slightly passe. Interestingly, the firm reports significant growth in work from overseas, with 18 per cent of gross turnover coming from the UK, slightly less from the US, three to four percent from the Middle East and 12 per cent from mainland Europe.

Beauchamps is said to have some good clients while Whitney Moore & Keller are said to have a strong practice. Dillon Eustace is still seen to be mainly a financial services niche practice albeit a successful one.

Sizewise, there are no major changes in the table with only a few firms, namely second-tier firms, showing any signs of growth. These include Mason Hayes Curran which has four extra fee-earners and four new partners; and Ivor Fitzpatrick which has six more fee-earners including three extra assistant solicitors. A & L Goodbody remain at the top of the table, with the same number of fee-earners as last year. Competitors McCann Fitzgerald, who headed the table in size until two years ago, are in second place with three more fee-earners than last year and one more partner. The firm has dropped in size by five fee-earners since The Lawyer's first Irish survey in 1991 although it has eight more partners than 1991. Goodbodys has 13 partners less than McCann's.

Arthur Cox is down two fee-earners but up four partners since last year.

William Fry is down five fee-earners from last year but has created two more partners.