Legal Business’s latest analysis of the Irish legal market warned against underestimating the resilience of the Irish. Hence, Mason Hayes & Curran’s less catastrophic 6% drop in sales should come as no surprise for a fiscal year defined by Covid-19.
The Irish full-service company’s turnover fell to EUR 80 million as both the transaction and the controversial workflows were severely affected. In a statement, managing partner Declan Black (pictured) has described the decline in disputes as “significantly reduced court hearings”. Overall, however, he was “satisfied” with the results, noting that “professional services were comparatively isolated from the worst effects of the pandemic”.
The Mason Hayes announcement is historically the only major Irish independent company to publish its financial results. It is an important barometer of the general financial resilience of the country’s legal market.
When asked how Covid-19 had affected the market, Black told Legal Business, “My instinct is that everyone will do better than they expected from April to June last year. For most people, the second quarter would have been the worst, but it depends on the company’s practice profile. ‘
City attorneys have praised the ability of the English courts to hold out during the crisis and noted the lack of a backlog, but Schwarz painted a different picture of the Irish system: “We have a large controversial practice. You need court appointments to move the activity forward. If you don’t have the discipline of regular court hearings, cases slow down. ‘
Despite an understandable decrease in transaction work in the second quarter of 2020, Schwarz reported a significant increase in the fourth quarter that should carry over to 2021: “A lot of money is being flushed out to do something. There will be a lot of transaction activity going on in 2021. ‘
Despite the decline in sales, Mason Hayes hired six partners during the year, bringing the company’s total number of partners to 95.
The company’s technology, life science, and energy teams were in high demand. Under a series of high-profile mandates, the technology team worked for Facebook last year in the landmark Schrems II case relating to the transfer of personal data from Europe to the USA.
The energy team advised the Norwegian state utility Statkraft on the sale of two wind farms worth EUR 123 million, and the life sciences team defended Quest Diagnostics from clinical negligence claims, among other things.
Sums up Black: “I feel overwhelmed by the gratitude to our employees who have made the transition to remote work remarkably well. Ultimately, customers want quality legal advice, they don’t care if you have a nice office! ‘