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Offshore firm Walkers has unveiled plans to open a base in Dublin.
The Cayman Islands-headquartered firm is understood to be in advanced talks with partners to man the base, which will open in the coming months, although staff are yet to be appointed.
It is a surprise move for Walkers, which like many in the offshore world was critical of Maples and Calder when it opened in Ireland in January 2006.
Maples came in for criticism from offshore commentators because the move appeared to signal the firm’s intention to compete with its onshore referral firms.
“Everybody was moaning about Maples and claiming they were stepping on the toes of onshore firms,” one Dublin-based lawyer said. “But they were first in and they got some good staff because of it. Relationships with onshore firms haven’t collapsed.”
One lawyer warned that Walkers would need to find the right people to ensure success. He said: “The problem with opening in Dublin is that you need traction and you get that through hiring local lawyers from a very small employment pool.
“To do what Maples has done you also need rounded businesspeople with entrepreneurial flare.”
It is the first office opening for Walkers in more than a year. In early 2009 the firm opened in Singapore (The Lawyer, 26 January 2009).