Interview: Philip Lee, Philip Lee

13 May 2020 | 10.40 am

Interview: Philip Lee, Philip Lee

'We lack only humility — and we are working on that!'

13 May 2020 | 10.40 am

Law firm Philip Lee finds niche areas exciting, explains founder and Managing Partner, Philip Lee (pictured)

What notable aspects of your firm’s growth and development over the last year please you most?

There are two standout aspects of the firm’s growth and development from the past year. The first is our ability to once again attract heavy hitters from the legal market to the firm. Five exceptional individuals joined the partner group in the last 12 months: John Given (M&A), Angelyn Rowan (Construction), Tom Conway and Thomas O’Malley (Property) and Marie Kinsella (Healthcare).

More recently, the firm is in the final stages of a merge with McEvoy Corporate Law, a discussion that commenced well before the current Covid-19 crisis. Bernard McEvoy grew a very strong corporate practice that I have admired from afar for many years.

Have you been focusing resources on any particular areas of your firm?

One department that we have particularly focused on this year is corporate, with John Given joining the team. John’s top-tier legal expertise, having served both international and domestic clients across multiple sectors, adds tremendous weight and depth to our firm as we continue to disrupt the established order in the Irish legal market through a combination of brilliant people and constant innovation.

Our media team goes from strength to strength as we hold on to the position of leading top tier legal advisors with the largest and most active team in the Irish market. Other areas that we have placed considerable effort are energy, with great work from Siobhan McCabe, and competition, with Ronan Dunne successfully growing that team.

Niche areas for the firm continue to excite us as we see an increasing demand for specialisation in procurement, construction, environmental and planning.  

Of course, data protection remains a particular area in great demand. We were reappointed to the commissioner this year. Our clients take great comfort in knowing that we have unparalleled expertise in the law and how it should be applied.

As we talk, we are fighting a war against the Covid-19 virus. We have always been proud of our deep relationship with the HSE. We always thought they were heroes. We are doing all we can to help them with matters of extreme urgency. Their dedication and skill were up to now underrated. It is good to see them being given the credit they have always been due.

What factors have been impacting on sentiment in the legal sector?

Uncertainty around Brexit and economic uncertainty have no doubt affected confidence. There are always challenges ahead for law firms. We do have a very particular set of skills, skills we have acquired over a very long career, skills that make us a nightmare for people not looking after our clients. For that reason, we have no fear of the future.

What do you predict the effect will be of continued new arrivals to the Irish legal sector?

We see their arrival as inevitable because they risk losing clients in the financial sector. I suspect they will struggle. Time will tell. Philip Lee has a reputation for deep domain expertise. Our special skills and the belief in what we are is a huge strength regardless.

How competitive are fees in the legal sector?

Irish business leaders understand the value in quality service and legal advice.

What distinguishes your firm and legal teams from those of your competitors? 

Our job is to predict the future, take on the challenges our clients will face and deliver solutions for them. We like to win and we like our clients to win.

Our depth of expertise and innovation creates not only insight, but foresight. This gives us competitive edge. We lack only humility — and we are working on that!

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