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Legal 500, 2019

Friday, May 10, 2019

The Legal 500 has been analysing the capabilities of law firms across the world, with a comprehensive research programme revised and updated every year to bring the most up-to-date vision of the global legal market.

The Legal 500 research is based on feedback from 250,000 clients worldwide, submissions from law firms and interviews with leading private practice lawyers, and a team of researchers who have unrivalled experience in the legal market.

Philip Lee is delighted to have climbed the tiers in a number of practice areas in 2019 including: Banking and finance; Commercial, corporate and M&A; EU and competition; and Energy and natural resources. The firm has retained its tier 1 ranking in Planning and Environment with Rachel Minch and Alice Whittaker mentioned as leading individuals. Media and entertainment has also retained its  tier 1 ranking with Jonathan Kelly and Brian Gormley highlighted as leading individuals and Jessica Gorman as a next generation lawyer. The firm had a number of other next generation lawyers singled out namely Eoghan Doyle, Ronan Dunne, Hugh Cummins and Clare Cashin.


Philip Lee Legal 500 2019 has ranked Philip Lee in the following areas:

Banking and finance
The ‘capable and responsive’ practice at Philip Lee is known for its strength in structured lending, project finance and media finance, and has been increasingly active in real estate acquisition and development finance. The ‘highly knowledgeable and effective’ Jonathan Kelly and Simon O’Neill acted for Port of Cork Company on the €100m redevelopment of port facilities at Ringaskiddy, Co Cork, and advised AIB on a secured loan facility to a QIAIF for the acquisition of a student accommodation site.

Commercial, corporate and M&A
Jonathan Kelly and Andreas McConnell lead the ‘efficient and knowledgeable’ team at Philip Lee. Kelly advised Allied Irish Banks on the financing of Greencoat Renewables’ acquisition of a portfolio of Irish wind farms and the company’s subsequent IPO, and McConnell assisted Sublimity Therapeutics with a €52m equity investment by a consortium of international investment funds. Eoghan Doyle, who is noted for his technology and data protection expertise; ‘outstanding’ consultant Ita O’Sullivan; and the ‘exceptional’ Andrew Tzialli, who joined from Sheridans to head the firm’s London office, are also recommended.

Philip Lee is rated for its ‘personal touch and desire to understand the clients’ needs and requirements’. The team handles a good spread of non-contentious private and public sector work, with Kerri Crossen advising Westmeath County Council on development options for land at Lissywollen, Athlone, and acting for BAM Building. Damien Young heads the contentious side of the practice; ‘personable’ Clare Cashin represented plaintiff Port of Cork in proceedings against BAM Civil concerning a mistake in the tender for the new Ringaskiddy port.

Dispute resolution
Philip Lee’s team has ‘powerful technical expertise and ever-expanding knowledge and experience’. Practice head Damien Young is ‘an outstanding litigator’, with particular strengths in data protection, regulatory and public law. Anne Bateman handles commercial and regulatory litigation in Ireland for Ryanair, and Clare Cashin is acting for a government agency in a series of procurement challenges. Rachel Minch and Murrough McMahon (who is ‘pragmatic, with a good sense of commerciality‘) are also key contacts.

EU and competition
Name partner Philip Lee and Ronan Dunne lead the team at Philip Lee, which is noted for its expertise in merger control, state aid law and defending clients in cartel and competition law prosecutions. The team is advising the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland on state aid issues concerning the financing of projects in the energy sector.

Acting mainly on the employer side, Philip Lee provides contentious and non-contentious employment advice to some major public clients, but also had some client wins in the private sector. Practice head Patrick Walshe is praised for his ‘invaluable insight’.

Energy and natural resources
‘Business acumen’, ‘practical solutions and common sense’ characterise Philip Lee, which acts for an array of actors in the energy sector like developers, financers and large energy users. Coming from top-tier firm William Fry, new practice head Siobhan McCabe brings with her ‘excellent knowledge of the industry’ and ‘drove the whole show’ on a number of occasions. By way of example, she acted for Bank of Ireland on the financing of several projects, including Curraghderrig wind farm. Alice Whittaker advised Innogy on a proposed 600MW offshore wind farm, and Microsoft on the first power purchase agreement with a renewable energy generator.

Information technology 
Philip Lee has been strengthened by the appointment of Sean McElligott to head the technology team alongside Anne Bateman. They advise clients including the Health Service Executive, Ryanair and Student Universal Support Ireland on matters ranging from IT outsourcing, systems procurement and implementation, and cloud computing to disputes over screen-scraping, as well as data protection and cyber security.

Intellectual property
The IP team at Philip Lee is particularly adept at dealing with trade mark cases. Anne Bateman is the key contact.

Media and entertainment
The team at Philip Lee has ‘great overall knowledge of the media and entertainment industry’; practice head Brian Gormley and Jonathan Kelly ‘stand out as highly experienced partners providing practical, effective advice’. The team focuses mainly on film and TV transactional work, including advising NBC Universal on the production and financing of TV drama series Nightflyers and assisting JAM Media with the financing and production of a major live action and animated series for Amazon. In the advertising sphere, clients include the representative body for producers, Commercial Producers Ireland, and commercials production companies Pull the Trigger and Antidote. Senior associate Jessica Gorman is also noted.

Planning and environment
Philip Lee is advising a variety of big players on planning and environmental issues. Particular highlights included Alice Whittaker, ‘who is fantastic to deal with’, advising Microsoft on the planning and environmental aspects of its novel public-private partnership with GE. Whittaker and Rachel Minch have represented An Bord Pleanála, the Irish planning board, in over 80 judicial review proceedings. The team also acts for a number of local authorities, including providing planning advice to Westmeath County Council regarding a significant housing development.

Projects and PPP
Led by Kerri Crossen, the team at Philip Lee is involved in a number of important infrastructure projects. Jonathan Kelly advised Port of Cork on the financing of the redevelopment of Ringaskiddy harbour. The team was also active in the PPP space, with Kelly and Hugh Cummins advising the National Development Finance Agency on the consequences for the Schools Bundle 5 PPP after the insolvencies of Carillion and Sammon Contracting.

Public sector
Philip Lee represents public sector bodies including local authorities, state agencies and some government departments, covering the healthcare, finance, IT, transport, waste and energy sectors. Alice Whittaker, Anne Bateman, Patrick Walshe and Rachel Minch make up the team.

Real estate
‘Always willing to go the extra mile for the client’, Philip Lee’s ‘highly skilled’ team is ‘well equipped for dealing with high-value commercial banking transactions involving security over property, as well as diligently managing smaller property acquisitions’. The ‘fully committed’ John O’Donoghue leads the practice; his recent highlights include acting for Carysfort Capital on the acquisition of a building comprising 120 apartments, a restaurant and café for €101m. Associate John Somers is ‘exceptional’.

The arrival of tax adviser and barrister-at-law Amanda-Jayne Comyn to lead the team has bolstered the tax practice at Philip Lee, which advises on M&A transactions, reorganisations and restructurings, property transactions and Revenue disputes. Comyn, who joined from Grant Thornton, advised Corrib Oil on a group restructuring including intra-group transfers and 12 individual domestic mergers. Consultant Gavin McGuire, who is dual qualified in the UK and Ireland, is the other key contact.