Monday, September 19, 2016
Commercial law firm Philip Lee takes an entrepreneurial and innovative approach to FDI. “We do not just wait for opportunities to arrive through our front door; we actively travel internationally and hunt them down,” said FDI partner Andreas McConnell.
The firm frequently partners with other like-minded Irish professional services providers and the IDA, meeting potential clients at an early stage and getting to understand their businesses. “This means that when clients make their entry to Ireland, we can assist them get started quickly. The working relationship is already in place,” said McConnell.
He said the biggest challenge for clients was trying to understand the diversity of markets across Europe. “US clients, by way of example, fail to take account of the fact that there are 11 different currencies in the EU and that employment laws not only differ quite radically from what they are used to in the US, but also vary within the EU itself,” said McConnell. “Many clients are also unprepared for the diversity of working languages and cultures in Europe.”
Philip Lee assists clients entering into Europe, not just Ireland. It offers clients a ‘one stop shop’ for legal services across Europe and internationally. “We do this through our membership of Multilaw, an international network of law firms, of which we are the sole Irish member,” said McConnell.
“Through Multilaw, we can either directly manage a legal solution in a third country from start to finish without the client having to interface with our colleagues, or facilitate an introduction for our client to an English speaking lawyer whom we know and trust,” he said. “Our clients do not need to go to the trouble of vetting law firms in each jurisdiction in which they have legal requirements. We directly manage this for them, freeing them up to focus on their business.”
Philip Lee is forecasting an increase in FDI activity over the medium term. “Our optimism is based on the outcome of the Brexit vote and despite the recent Commission findings in relation to Apple,” said McConnell.“Brexit has contributed from three angles. Firstly, the UK was Ireland’s largest rival in Europe when pitching for inbound FDI opportunities, particularly from the US. “Now the lack of certainty of market operations in the UK into the medium term has taken the UK off the list for many companies before they start to look at Europe in detail,” he said.
“Secondly, FDI companies that are settled in the UK are now questioning their structure and looking at whether they should be taking steps to hedge against the impact of Brexit. Many of these companies are looking to Ireland,” said McConnell.
“Thirdly, Brexit is opening up new markets. We are starting to see an increase in activity from countries that would previously have defaulted to the UK by virtue of historical association. In recent weeks, we have had initial discussions with companies from New Zealand, Hong Kong, Australia and Canada.”
McConnell said the Apple case had not adversely affected Ireland’s FDI opportunities. “If anything, the position that has been taken by Ireland to defend itself robustly adds to the sense that this is a country that offers a stable, competitive, transparent platform from which to build out an EMEA business,” he said.
In the past year, Philip Lee has opened a new business focused on Israel as a source of FDI for Ireland. “To build this business, we have recruited the only lawyer in the world who is qualified in Ireland, UK and Israel. We are the first Irish law firm to specifically target Israel in this manner,” said McConnell. “We are also in the process of rolling out a new business focusing on Canada. Both these businesses are examples of the entrepreneurial and innovative approach that sets Philip Lee apart.”