William Fry takes on new pensions head from Eversheds

William Fry has appointed a new head of pensions, taking partner Ian Devlin from Eversheds Sutherland.

Ian Devlin

Devlin had been at the Dublin office of Eversheds for 18 years, having trained at the firm at the turn of the Millennium.

At Eversheds, he advised employers, pension scheme trustees and pension providers on pension issues. He was formerly a chairman of the Association of Pension Lawyers in Ireland and is currently a member of the DC sub-committee of the Irish Association of Pension Funds.

Devlin replaces William Fry’s former head of pensions, Liam Connellan who has since become head of pensions at ByrneWallace.

Spotlight on Dublin

Brexit has created fresh business opportunities for Irish law firms. In April 2015, William Fry moved to what is dubbed Dublin’s “Silicon Docks”, a formerly derelict area within the Grand Canal Dock. During the green pastures of Ireland’s economic uptick, the area has ripened from a flood of tech employees, including the European headquarters of Google, Facebook and Airbnb.

Barclays, Bank of America, Citigroup and JPMorgan are among the financial institutions that also plan to establish or expand their Irish operations.

Last year, it was announced that Trinity College Dublin is planning to build a technology-focused campus at at the Grand Canal Dock as part of €1bn plans to develop the area as an “innovation district”. The initiative aims to make Dublin ranked among the top 20 most innovative cities in the world by 2030.

One of the key events that rocked Ireland’s legal market in 2017 was the opening of several new offices by international law firms in Ireland, and in particular Dublin. With Brexit looming, firms in the UK have directed their gaze towards Ireland.

The first of the pack to set up shop was Dechert, which launched its Dublin office in July 2010 with the hire of William Fry Declan O’Sullivan.

In May this year, DLA Piper finally confirmed its launch in Dublin, taking on William Fry partner David Carthy. Its launch came hot on the heels of Simmons & Simmons, which officially opened its office the same month.

In June 2017, Pinsent Masons became the first UK firm to announce its plan to launch an office in Dublin since the UK’s Brexit vote, taking on a three partner team from Walkers. Lewis Silkin and US firm Covington & Burling followed shortly after.

Eversheds’ Belfast operation is currently undergoing a period of growth. In August, it released plans to double its headcount to 30 by 2020, with a focus on litigation, real estate, employment and banking. Having originally set up as a satellite office 2015 with just six employees, it now has 15 employees including three partners.

The firm’s Dublin office currently employs 275 people including 34 partners.

It entered the Irish market back in 2005 through an alliance with legacy Irish firm O’Donnell Sweeney. In 2011, the firm, which was known as Eversheds O’Donnell Sweeney, rebranded and dropped O’Donnell Sweeney from its name.

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