Interview: Michael Lavelle, Lavelle Partners

11 May 2020 | 03.00 pm

Interview: Michael Lavelle, Lavelle Partners

'Medium-sized firms are more reactive and less bureaucratic'

11 May 2020 | 03.00 pm

A great year for Lavelle Partners saw strong growth, a rebrand and a new website launched, according to Managing Partner Michael Lavelle (pictured)

What aspects of your firm’s development and growth pleased you most in 2019?

Last year was a great year for the firm. We saw growth across all practice areas but especially in commercial transactions and commercial property and banking. We saw an increase in receivership work in both commercial and residential, and we have increased resources in these areas in particular. 

In 2019, we also rebranded as Lavelle Partners and launched a new website. The rebrand reflected the success of our partner-led practice areas — corporate and commercial, commercial litigation and dispute resolution, property, employment and private litigation.

What areas of the firm have you been focusing your efforts on?

Increased property work and acting for venture capitalists has led to an increase in resources in those areas. Our insolvency, commercial and property background as a firm means we’re ideally positioned to advise in this area of the market. 

We’re well-known in the profession for our 30 years of insolvency experience. We continue to do a lot of insolvency work for financial institutions and receivers. We’ve always had a very strong commercial litigation practice and during the course of 2019 we were involved in a significant number of High Court commercial cases. 

Our property team continued to grow throughout 2019 too. We now have six solicitors on our property team. 

What are your thoughts on the LLP structure for business, given your early adoption of it?

We were already familiar with the protection afforded by LLP (limited liability partnership) status and aware of how they operate from colleagues in the UK. We are part of an international association of lawyers, which has many UK members. We are also aware of the protection afforded to other professions, including architects, engineers and accountants, many of whom avail of limited liability structures.  

There is no downside whatsoever to an LLP structure, and while there are some administrative issues implementing it, we believe that over the course of the next year or two, most firms in Ireland will become LLPs.

What factors are weighing on sentiment in the legal sector?

Covid-19 has, inevitably, thrown us all off course a little. It’s a challenging time and I think the world we return to will be different. However, it’s had some positive effects on working practices. I’m delighted to see the courts piloting virtual hearings, for example. 

For Lavelle Partners, the transition to remote working was a fairly easy one, as we already had the IT and security measures in place, as many of our employees are set up to work from home anyway.

Many of our clients are SMEs and it’s therefore a sector of the Irish market that’s important to our firm. It could be especially challenging for SMEs when we return to work. This sector is so crucial to the Irish economy that I’d like to see the government continue to support SME owners and employees. It’s essential that we keep as many SMEs operating as possible.  

For the commercial client, what’s the advantage of seeking the counsel of a mid-market firm?

Medium-sized firms are more reactive and less bureaucratic. On important issues, a client can get the advice of a partner and the partner will continue as the principal person in a transaction.   

We value our SME commercial clients. We have the breadth of knowledge to advise them on all aspects of their business, commercial transactions, property transactions, litigation and employment law and we can do so in an efficient and flexible manner.

Our partners have a broad knowledge of various aspects of law, while partners in larger firms have in many cases become highly specialised. As a result, larger firms involve a multiply of lawyers, which significantly increases the client costs. While this may suit large PLCs, it does not suit medium-sized clients.  

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