Founded in 1847, William Fry is a leading Irish firm headquartered in Dublin. The firm opened an office in Cork recently and has an alliance with Northern Ireland firm Tughans. It also has branches in London, New York, Silicon Valley and San Francisco through which it advises foreign clients on Irish law.
Focusses / specialisms
The firm is broadly strong in transactional work but best known for its corporate practice and the teams M&A, restructuring and equity capital markets work.
In banking and finance the firm has a strong real estate offering and is often lender or borrower side counsel on development financing and refinancing transactions. Acquisition finance is another strength.
The M&A team's cross border expertise covers sectors including technology, insurance, healthcare and food and beverage. It is experienced in advising a mix of private equity firms, international and domestic corporations and public and private entities.
The firm's equity capital markets practice advises multinational corporations on equity fundraising, shares placements and IPOs while its debt team is often active on the issuer side.
The firm’s funds team has a good position in the ETF space and advises some of the biggest funds on the market.
In project work the firm is experienced in the PPP space advising state parties or lenders on social infrastructure projects. It is also notable for its work in the energy sector advising sponsors and lenders on renewable projects.
The firm has one of the strongest restructuring and insolvency practices in the country and often advises on some of the largest cross border mandates in retail, insurance and food among other sectors. The firm acts for liquidators and receivers.
Some of the recent key clients of the firm include Nuveen Real Estate, BlackRock, Allied Irish Banks, European Investment Bank, Orange Capital Partners, Silver Hill Foods, Pomo Search, EirGrid, The Dutch Infrastructure Fund and Circle K.
Research period review: 30th edition (2019 / 2020)
During the research period the firm was active across all areas of work covered by the rankings.
In asset finance work partners advised on asset portfolio financing and leasing, joint ventures and securitisations, mainly representing arrangers, lenders and financial institutions.
In banking the firm was particularly active in real estate acquisition financing and office building development, advising arrangers, lenders, borrowers, contractors and fund vehicles. It also advised on acquisition, fund, and development financing in other sectors including food and agriculture, technology and logistics.
In project finance the firm advised banks, financial institutions, state agents, project companies and sponsoring infrastructure funds on PPP refinancing and financing transactions.
In capital markets work the firm advised issuers, underwriters, bookrunners, brokers and international banks. In equity work it advised on IPOs, including the IPO of Uniphar on Euronext Dublin, and worked on share issuance programmes. In debt work the firm advised on debt financing, corporate bond issuances, note programmes and aircraft financing.
In financial services regulatory work the firm advised on Brexit-related realignment, escrow funds, insurance compliance, fintech and e-money payment authorisations and investigations.
In investment funds work the firm advised on the structuring and establishment Irish-domiciled ETF funds. It also advised on regulatory licences and the establishment of funds with environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment criteria.
In M&A the firm has been active in the large and complex deals in the financial services, technology, food and beverages, aviation and pharmaceuticals sectors advising a range of venture capital, technology companies, financial institutions, and shareholders on the sell, target and buy side of acquisitions.
In projects the firm notably worked on the Celtic Interconnector project and PPP restructuring in the research period. It also saw development projects in healthcare, renewable energy, accommodation projects and data centre construction advising a mix of developers, receivers, producers and contracting authorities.
In restructuring work the firm advised on cross-border restructurings and examinerships, including acting on the Weatherford International and Ballantyne Re restructurings. The firm represented liquidators, creditors, distressed companies and share receivers.
Recent hires for the firm include banking partner Lyn Brennan from Milbank, capital markets partner Brian Butterwick from Shearman & Sterling, and regulatory partner Ian Murray from SCOR Global Life.
Recent departures include banking partner Rachel Stanton to join Simmons & Simmons; capital markets partner David Fitzgibbon to Matheson along with Susanne McMenamin; and corporate partners Shane O’Donnell and Eavan Saunders to Dentons.
Deal highlights: 30th edition (2019 / 2020)
Ballantyne Re Plc $1.6 billion debt restructuring
Dublin Port Company €300 million bond issue
FINEOS Australian Securities Exchange IPO
Greencoat Renewables €147 million equity placing
Google acquisition of Pointy Pomo Search
Mountpark Logistics £104 million and €44 million dual-currency loan financing
N11 Arklow to Rathnew PPP refinancing
Smurfit Kappa Treasury UC €750 million 1.5% bond issue
Uniphar €140 million Euronext Dublin IPO
Weatherford International restructuring
Client feedback: 30th edition (2019 / 2020)
“David Maughan and Mary Ward are both top-notch. They are both hard-working and deliver an excellent partner-led service. I consider David to be the best Irish aviation lawyer practicing today. David and Mary work with us on a range of transactions, ranging from the simple to the complex, but it is on the complex areas of advice where they really stand out.”
“Mary is an absolute pleasure to work with. She is knowledgeable and extremely responsive (notwithstanding the time difference).”
“Response time is excellent as well as its breadth of services (from finance, to tax and restructuring).”
“Responsive, clarity and consistency on billing.”
“The team at William Fry is always accessible and provides great insight into the industry from an Irish law perspective.”
“Very responsive, proactive, driven and competent.”
“Excellent technical skills and awareness, strong on negotiation and overall responsiveness which was very positive.”
“Extremely professional, always available and the staff had very strong interpersonal skills. They identified legal issues and made recommendations - reverted only on commercial issues.”
“Level of knowledge and expertise was very strong in this instance on an unusual transaction. Assignment had challenging timelines, the assignment was completed within the deadlines.”
“One of the partners of the firm Lyn, has much experience in NY law financings and understands the market in NY, which facilitates her work on the Irish law components of NY-based deals.”
“They are extremely knowledgeable in their field They are also very approachable and genuine individuals who do their best to ensure their clients are very comfortable and understand what is going on.”
“Very approachable and experienced team. Have a great ability to communicate legally complex transactions in manner that Clients can understand. Very active in the market place and have an in-depth knowledge of current banking landscape.”
“Very technically proficient and highly responsive.
“When you engage a firm of William Fry's size and reputation, you expect a very high standard of service and professionalism and William Fry's did not disappoint in either of these. They were also very responsive and engaged all the way through.”
Capital markets : Debt
“Advice is commercial, performed to a very high standard, timely and good on detail of complex matters.”
Capital markets : Equity
“Customer focused, pro-active and organise the process excellently.”
“Very practical, relevant advice, recognised the challenges and seek to address them in a commercial way.”
“It is very committed to providing excellent service. We have found the turnaround times for complex and voluminous business very prompt and precise.”
Financial services regulatory
“Clear, concise advice with practical solutions delivered in a cost effective manner.”
“Good communication and awareness of operational challenges. Particularly alert to protection of the reputation and perception of the client organisation.”
“Shane is a superstar, who will keep you as organised and ahead of the game as he is. He's unfailingly responsive, and gives the kind of clear, practical advice that you wish all outside counsel did. He sees and understands the full picture of the regulatory and business framework for regulated financial services firms. The whole team is extremely personable and a pleasure to work with. They are always reasonable in the amount of time spent, even on challenging issues. Full-service, any related questions about the Irish and EU legal framework can be handled expertly by William Fry. I enthusiastically recommend them to others in the industry.”
“The main attributes of the firm are a practical approach, an in-depth knowledge of regulatory law and the thinking of regulators and a calm presence.”
“The partner is easy to deal with and very responsive.”
“We worked with John and Claire. Despite our insurance model being unique, John understood very quickly how the Insurance Distribution Regulations applied to our company. The advice we received was targeted, clear and relevant to our situation. In addition, we were able to use their experience of dealing with the CBI to tailor and focus our application. Claire O'Connors review of our documentation was very thorough. Her feedback was clear and concise. We have dealt with other law firms in the UK on these issues but found that William Fry's quality of response, depth of knowledge and value added to the Company surpassed what we had previously experienced.”
“William Fry are incredibly diligent. They went above and beyond in their dedication to our application. They were insightful and thoughtful in their direction. They were able to lean on their previous experiences, we found incredibly helpful and most of all, as a team, they were incredibly personable and easy to deal with.”
“William Fry provide a top class service with the appropriate mix of expertise and commercial insight at a reasonable cost. As with all law firms it is all about the people one works with. The teams of people I have interacted with over the years in the dispute resolution, banking and commercial departments have all been excellent.”
“William Fry provide clear, detailed advice which takes account of regulatory expectations and market factors. They provide a supportive client environment.”
“Agility and creativeness.”
“Approachable, knowledgeable, practical and commercial.”
“Pragmatic, commercially-focused attitude with explicit legal advice as end result.”
“There is immediate access to senior partners, fielding queries from the business with quick views on a wide range of legal issues. While we have access to a senior partner, the team is run on a dual partnership model, given the significant work we engage WF on. The partners are supported by very capable associate solicitors, tending to the many projects we have running at any one time. WF are a full service firm, providing us, in the last year, with advice on property matters; banking matters; foreign registration services; data protection queries; employment and pension matters; and company secretarial services.”
“Very detailed, diligent, thorough and extremely professional in their approach in dealing with us as a client but also when dealing with legal representatives on the other side of the transaction.”
“William Fry are very responsive and provide us with great support in relation to our funds domiciled in Ireland.”
“Myra, her M&A team and colleagues throughout William Fry (employment, IP, tax) were excellent to deal with. Myra seamlessly integrated her team so that all work streams were covered. Myra is a great operator and is very focused on getting ahead of issues. She is also focused on the details so from start to finish we felt that we were in good hands. Maire proved an essential element to getting the deal across the line, her commitment to covering all the bases early on proved to be key in the latter stages of the deal process. To sum up the positive attributes are: Focus on process and gearing teams accordingly; technical expertise in M&A, employment and IP; commercial acumen and knowing when to compromise; and open communication and availability.”
“People who are leaders in their market and disciplines and, at the same time, are a real pleasure to deal with. Approachable, practical and a real personal approach.”
“Comprehensive, knowledge in construction and can develop scenarios into contract schedules.”
“Fast response, expertise across most areas of law William Fry try to find solutions to problems in a practical manner and go the extra mile.”
“Great culture, everyone I have met and worked with is enthusiastic, positive and well intentioned. The quality of the staff from the greeting at reception to the service in the meeting room to the quality of the legal professionals is very high. The legal professionals have been excellent at walking in the client’s shoes. They have understood what the client is trying to achieve and have worked very hard to coach and deliver with the client how best to achieve that. They have provided not just legal advice but also coached and supported the team through tricky interactions with counterparties advising based on legal expertise but also based on years of expertise and experience. The current COVID pandemic and how they have reacted to that has been quite remarkable. Obviously WF had invested in IT infrastructure and as a result the working transition from meeting in the office to online has been almost seamless.”
“Quick to respond and very good specialist advisers.”
“Very solid advice based on experience and market insights. Superb support staff.”
“Excellent attention to detail, a very personal and pleasant approach, partner level interaction at all stages of the process.”
“High quality advice, technical knowledge, good speed of response.”
“High quality specialist advice in specialist sector, available at short notice. Thorough reviews and proactive approach.”
“WF are obviously a full service office with experts in every field.”
“WF as a full service firm offer a wide range of experts which are invaluable to us during a complex project.”
Restructuring and insolvency
“Calibre of its people at all levels in the firm and high standard of legal advices with good commercial awareness.”
“Depth of team, service and knowledge.”
“Extremely professional, always responsive and calm.”
“In a hectic case with various competing interests all of an urgent nature, WF are market leaders in identifying the order of priority and ensuring all matters are attended to, keeping the process on track. The team has significant strength in depth and its partners and associates are of equal calibre throughout each ranking. I am equally happy for a file to move from Fergus Doorly to Craig Sowman or to Ruairi Rynn, all of whom are first class. You always get the sense that you are well advised when they are instructed on your behalf. Replies entail both commercial and legal principles and there is nothing that they won't have a good instinctive view on, even the most nuanced of matters. Similarly, among the associates, Rebecca Martyn deserves an honourable mention understanding the nuances of scenarios as they arise and providing really strong drafts of documents on a first-turn basis. The other thing I like is that they are not afraid to tell you that you are wrong on something. Really top class firm at all levels for restructuring work. Waiting for a suitable case to instruct them again.”
“Legal expertise, experience, project management skills. The Wm Fry team developed a very good working relationship will all stakeholders to ensure the successful restructure of the company.”
“Outstanding assistance and services : expertise, pragmatism and availability.”
“Responsive, experienced and multi-disciplinary.”
“The are always available at the end of a phone (including mobiles) and willing to go the extra mile in both work ethic and professionalism.”
“They are commercially minded and very responsive. They provide clear instructions to expert witnesses.”
“They were very knowledgeable on the complex scheme involving many parties involving Irish, English and US parties and law firms.”
“Through research and analysis. Also, very active with client involvement along the way.”
“Very responsive and commercially aware.”
“Very strong team and breadth of experience.”
“William Fry are a very professional and ethical firm. They have a deep knowledge of the law and have an excellent reputation.”
“William Fry operates at the highest calibre in all respects. One can count on their expertise with respect to Irish restructuring law, but even more importantly they are able to navigate cutting edge restructuring strategies that present issues of first impression under Irish law. During Ballantyne, Ruairi Rynn and his team led the cross-border restructuring effort and demonstrated a command of not only Irish law but also the key aspects of English and US law that were critical to the restructuring. They were also skilled at bringing a large number of parties to the table who had divergent interests, and finding agreement amongst those parties. Finally, William Fry excelled at litigating key issues during the restructuring, achieving success for their client at every step of the way.”
“William Fry were thorough in their approach at every stage and they were able to deal with a very complex transaction in a very constructive manner. This type of transaction was the first of its kind in Ireland.”
“Thorough understanding of the market and the issues clients face. Easy to deal with and summarizes complex matters for clients.”
“Level-headed, straight-talking, thorough approach, and has great knowledge.”
Bryanna has similar formidable legal and drafting skills honed over many years in contract negotiations. Bryanna is very sharp and understands and quickly grasps complex projects. I prefer to have Bryanna acting for me in negotiating and drafting a contract rather than against me every time. All three meet the deadlines set.
“Clear understanding of the regulations and how they applied. The ability to communicate complex regulations in clear language, focused advice and feedback, attention to detail, strong level of engagement and quick turnaround to meet deadlines.”
“Professional, proactive and always calm.”
“Responsiveness, proactivity, expertise and friendly.”
“Great client relationship, quick responsiveness and good clear legal advices.”
“Really calm influence, completely in control and really fights your corner. He possesses a brilliant legal mind but really importantly, he gets the commercial stuff too. Incredibly safe pair of hands for difficult cases.”
“David is an excellent and experienced aviation lawyer. His legal work is excellent and his commercial judgment is sound. David works collaboratively with clients and counterparties and his advice is always on point.”
“Excellent legal advice and adapted for the needs of the transaction.”
“Very responsive to the needs of clients and attention to detail.”
“Derek is very practical, has a very calm and sensible approach, even to the most contentious issues.”
“Experienced professional with great market insight, technical knowledge and transaction experience. Where there is a material issue that has to be negotiated as part of a facility agreement, Elaine is the lawyer you want on your deal team. Elaine and her team always makes themselves available, even at short notice if their client has an issue.”
“Eoin is very knowledgeable and understands our business.”
“Communication, accessibility and knowledge (legal and market).”
“Fergus is very measured but very effective. He plans carefully and anticipates and solves problems before they arise. Fergus is a top insolvency lawyer and a man you want on your side in a fight.”
“Fergus is experienced and knowledgeable.”
“Very willing to listen to client suggestions and work through alternative solutions.”
“Technically outstanding. Extremely thorough.”
“James is a vital resource to me, and assists me with fielding the business with quick views on a wide range of legal issues as they arise. He can provide a commercial perspective, combined with a deep understanding of the rules. James is readily available to answer the difficult questions with ease.”
“Very specialised and knowledgeable.”
“Jarleth has given sound advice in relation to Project Consultant Contracts and contract management. He fully understands previous client experiences (prior to WF) and can transfer these into legal schedules giving us the confidence to engage the relevant consultants.”
“JH is always available. Very responsive to client queries.”
“Proactive approach, problem solves, specialist sector knowledge and readily available.”
“Both lawyers are very accommodative, knowledgeable, diligent, efficient, hardworking and personable.”
“Laura is a very personable individual which is a big plus in any working relationship. Her expertise and knowledge of banking was never once found wanting. Laura was able to stand her ground on important issues but at the same time maintain a level of commerciality all the way through to ensure the deal completed on time.”
“Positive engagement, open to discussing proposed course of action. Timely contributions to assist the completion of work. Interested in understanding the client decision making process.”
“Liam is a very experienced and seasoned professional and he brings not just his legal expertise to our interactions but also his experience and knowledge of years of experience. I can think of any other lawyer in this area of expertise I would want on my team.”
“In-depth knowledge, insight as regards the industry and players insights which can only be experience driven.”
“Superb lawyer to work with, has vast experience and is a lateral thinker.”
“Liam is an excellent lawyer knows very well how to avoid the pitfalls associated with very large scale construction projects. For any problems on construction project Liam is the go to person for a practical solution rather than jumping immediately to law. Liam is always willing to advice on the commercials of a deal and this proves very beneficial.”
“Fergus knows everything about energy contracts/regulations in Ireland and similar to Liam is very happy to advice on complex commercial matters. Fergus can speak the language of an energy trader and this is very useful when it comes to the detailed contract negotiations and drafting.”
“Lisa is a very capable lawyer with a fantastic understanding of her areas of expertise. She has a unique ability to provide sensible practical advice in a cost effect manner.”
“I have retained Ms Carty as an advisor for seven years and, at all stages, her performance, diligence and advice have been exemplary. Despite the subjective nature of many commercial issues, Ms Carty's legal advice has always been very sound and coupled with both commercial awareness and tactical skill has achieved multiple pragmatic solutions. Ms Carty is an extremely effective communicator, not only in dealing with me as the client but also in successfully communicating a perspective to the other party in a dispute. As with most litigants' fees are a second order priority with results being the overriding concern. I retain Ms Carty for the results she delivers and the added bonus is the value for money. I would have no hesitation in recommending Ms Carty to anyone planning, pursuing or defending litigation they will find an outstanding legal advisor, an excellent communicator and an individual totally focussed on delivering the right result for her client.”
“Very commercial, friendly and responsive.”
“Strong communicator, proactive, organised and excellent at finding resolution to challenging legal areas.”
“Mary is extremely responsive even taking into consideration the time difference between Singapore and Dublin. She is also knowledgeable with the law and has good insight into the aviation industry.”
“Mary Ward is very competent, driven and responsive.”
“Involved in the work from start to finish.”
“Mary is very hands on and shows great knowledge of law and understanding of the client's business.”
“Operational focus, attention to detail, builds strong relationships across teams, understands our motivation and delivers on time.”
“Extremely professional, knowledgeable, diligent and very experienced in funds.”
“Nicola is very proactive and knowledgeable. She is responsive to our queries and is fully engaged at all times to provide the right support in relation to our funds domiciled in Ireland.”
“Technically excellent, always available, problem solver - willing to call critical issues and just address minor ones himself advising what he was doing, always willing to express his opinion without ever being condescending. Good interaction with colleagues including subordinates. Overall, a person you would be very comfortable to revert to on any case.”
“Extensive knowledge, experience and strong personal skills.”
“Padraic is confident and extremely knowledgeable within his field. He is very approachable and empathic and a pleasure to deal with.”
“Unflappable attitude, comprehension of office politics in opponent firms, constructive solutions and strategic thinking.
“A very thorough and careful associate with a really good legal brain. Drafts of documents with limited instructions are excellent based on self-possessed experience.”
“Really, really capable and very accomplished.”
“He was extremely knowledgeable on the scheme of arrangement from an Irish and International law perspective. He communicated very well with all parties and the other law firms as well as the barristers.”
“Explained in earlier review. Ruairi is truly a gem in the international restructuring community. One of the best cross-border lawyers I have worked with.”
“Very commercially minded and logical thinker.”
“Really good guy, very well informed and we have built a strong relationship together.”
“Ruairi is a leading insolvency and restructuring lawyer. He has extensive experience of restructuring company through examinership and company law scheme of arrangement.”
“A very competent lawyer, technical and commercial.”
“Extremely hard working, very on top of his brief and always readily accessible.”
“Excellent knowledge of the sector, practical and an easy manner.”
“Shane Kelleher is a superstar who will keep you as organized and ahead of the game as he is. He's unfailingly responsive, and gives the kind of clear, practical advice that you wish all outside counsel did. He sees and understands the full picture of the regulatory and business framework for regulated financial services firms. The whole team is extremely personable and a pleasure to work with. They are always reasonable in the amount of time spent, even on challenging issues. Full-service, any related questions about the Irish and EU legal framework can be handled expertly by William Fry. I enthusiastically recommend them to others in the industry.”
“Both lawyers are very accommodative, knowledgeable, diligent, efficient, hardworking and personable.”
“Excellent technical knowledge, very responsive and thorough in her approach. She communicated very effectively by explaining legal matters clearly in an understandable manner.”
“Superb client management and technical ability and has his finger on the pulse of where the market is. We feel in safe hands with Stephen.”