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The head of Belfast firm L’Estrange & Brett’s market-leading corporate team John Irvine is set to leave the firm for key client Almac Sciences in the autumn.
Irvine has been appointed executive director of Almac, which has no legal department, and will continue at L’Estrange as a consultant. L’Estrange managing partner Richard Gray said he hoped that the loss of a key fee-earner would be offset by an even stronger relationship with a key client.
Pharmaceutical services company Almac was laun-ched in September 2001 by Alen McClay, the co-founder of Galen Holdings. Galen had been a client of Irvine and he advised McClay on the launch of Almac.
Since then, Almac has spent around £180m buying divisions from Galen, with Irvine advising on most of these transactions. According to Gray, the relationship has developed to the stage where Irvine has worked on little else for the last two years.
“We’ve enjoyed working with Almac and helping them grow. It’s been a good source of work and we hope it will continue to be,” commented Gray.
There are no plans to replace Irvine, which leaves the L’Estrange corporate group with three partners, comprising Gray, Adrian Eakin and Paul McBride, as well as 15 other solicitors.
“The corporate department has continued to flourish while John has been working solely with Almac,” said Gray. “The client base is there and we’re confident the practice will continue to go from strength to strength.”
Other key clients include Belfast City Airport, Jarvis, Ulster Bank, UTV and Veridian (formerly Northern Ireland Electricity) and its subsidiary SX3.