Pat Flynn’s early career involved working as both a lawyer and in corporate finance in a number of jurisdictions including Ireland, the UK, the US and Russia before returning to Ireland to head up a corporate department in a top Dublin legal practice.
After a number of years building that practice Pat saw an opportunity to disrupt the market by forming a boutique law firm dedicated to serving the legal needs of a core group of business clients in a client focused and solutions driven way; Pat took the bold and entrepreneurial step of leaving to set up his own practice and Patrick G Flynn Solicitors was born.
Pat operated out of the basement of a Georgian building on Upper Pembroke Street and his business model was simple; keep the client to the forefront of everything he did, get to know the client and understand their business in order to be best placed to solve client problems in a way that offers exceptional value for money.
While much has changed within the firm from these humble beginnings, the philosophy of putting the client to the forefront and being the centre of everything we do is still a core part of the principles and values of the firm; the mantra “solutions, not problems” is one in which our people are well versed.
Word spread and such was the demand for Pat’s services that help was needed and Pat recruited Alan O’Driscoll; together they continued to grow the practice, moving up in the world literally as they moved office from the basement to the loft!
The firm’s client base began to grow at a significant pace and further recruitment was required to meet demand; when the recession took hold worldwide in September 2008 the firm had a workforce of 6, however, owing to the firm’s low overhead cost model and loyal client base consisting primarily of well-run owner managed businesses, redundancies and pay cuts were avoided. Instead, in common with many of our clients, the period was used for acquisition and growth with the firm taking over the practice of Cunningham McCormack to add commercial property to the firm’s service offering. Our geographically diverse international client base and our expertise across several sectors was also crucial to our efforts during this period.
Alan was made Partner in 2009 and the firm rebranded as Flynn O’Driscoll, Business Lawyers.
In 2011, numbering 15 staff, the firm moved to a new modern premises occupying a floor in No. 1 Grants Row.
Over the next two years 2012-2014 the firm expanded and added three new Partners; James Duggan who had joined the firm in 2007, Julian Cunningham who had joined the firm in 2009 and David Ryan who had joined the firm in 2013. Each of these new Partners added a new dimension and skillset and assisted in further growth of the firm’s service offering and client base with staff numbers rising to 20 to meet the needs of these new clients.
The firm had long since harboured the ambition to become a national firm with offices in Dublin and Galway given the strong connection to the west of Ireland through its people as well as the opportunity to offer a serious alternative to the many successful businesses in the region, it was a question of finding the right strategic opportunity. 2014 saw such an opportunity arise when agreement was reached to take over a Galway based Intellectual Property business, Trade Secrets Limited, and appoint its founder, Laura Myles, Head of IP and IT in the Firm, staff numbers growing to 25 in the process.
2015 was a strong year for the firm as M&A activity returned strongly to the Irish market and the firm implemented numerous new initiatives focused on providing a better service to clients and a better place to work for our people. At this point the firms client base reflected a very significant number of internationally based and internationally focused clients; in order to broaden the scope of its legal service offering to these clients the firm joined ‘Law Exchange International’ as the sole Irish firm, thus creating a legal network of similarly positioned firms spanning over 40 countries worldwide. The firm was also recognised by Legal 500 for the first time which is a regarded as a significant barometer of the level of market recognition of the firm and standing of its partners as perceived by clients and peers and is thus a prestigious affiliation.
2016 was a landmark year as the firm reached agreement with two new external hires as Partners, Gavin Lawlor joining as Partner in the Corporate/Commercial team & David Curran joining as Partner in the Commercial Litigation department. These hires, together with a number of additional senior hires expanded the team to 43. The firm also secured the location of our headquarters for the foreseeable future agreeing a lease on the top two floors at No. 1 Grants Row to allow for future expansion and a better working environment.
2017 was another growth year for the firm, with a number of senior hires including Eoin Cunneen joining as Partner in the expanding Commercial Litigation department. There was significant growth in the corporate practice with the Firm being ranked 4th busiest M&A firm in Ireland which was a significant milestone. Our Galway office also expanded and we established the Galway Technology Hub.
The firm continued to thrive throughout 2018, it was our busiest year to date and we saw our staff numbers increase to 60 people and some very significant and notable projects including the development of The Aviation Hub on the first floor, our third floor in the building. We are also very pleased to have increased our Experian ranking to 3rd busiest M&A practice in Ireland. These achievements have only been possible through the combined efforts of the great team at FOD, who throughout 2018 supported the continued expansion of our internal educational program in the FOD Academy.
2019 was the busiest year in the history of the firm, our focus on recruitment and staff development paid dividends with over 30 new hires over the year.
In June 2019 we announced a change in management structure which saw the firm’s founder Pat Flynn take up a new role of Chairman and James Duggan appointed as Managing Partner representing a significant milestone in the history of the firm.
In October 2019 we were pleased to announce the completion of our merger with Fanning Kelly Solicitors with Kieran Kelly joining as Partner adding new expertise in media, defamation and libel law.
2020 has presented some unprecedented challenges with the spread of the COVID-19 virus and the impact this has had on the global economy and business community. In March 2020 the restrictions on travel and social interaction has meant changed work practices globally and within the firm, however, significant investment over the past number of years in IT, out people and a robust business continuity plan has meant business as usual for the firm, albeit with the majority of our people operating in a remote working environment.
There will be challenging times ahead for many businesses whilst the full impact of the COVID-19 crisis is realised, we wish all our clients, our peers, our friends and family the very best during this period of unprecedented uncertainty and we standby ready to assist where ever possible with the various legal issues, challenges and opportunities that will arise over the coming months.
Our ethos can be captured in the mantras which are in daily usage in the firm:
“Solutions, not problems”
It is a common misconception among the professions that the job of lawyers is to find problems to bring to a clients’ attention, rather than detecting a problem, identifying possible solutions and bringing these to the clients attention so a collective and informed decision can be taken.
We are business people at heart. Many of our clients forget that we too were a start-up once and we have experienced all the same issues, highs and lows that our clients have experienced. We have built upon this experience and reflect the learnings in our approach to our clients and their business issues.
“Pick up the phone”
We encourage regular dialogue with clients over the phone and in person rather than overly relying on email to communicate. A common complaint clients have with professional service firms is the partners being hard to reach or not returning phone calls; communication is key and we want clients and their firm contact in regular and responsive dialogue.
“Know and understand the client’s business”
At Flynn O’Driscoll we love nothing more than getting out on site with a client to “kick the tyres”; we strongly believe that in order to add real value to a client you must understand their business and appreciate the issues facing both the client vis-à-vis their own role and the business itself.
“Hire for attitude, not for skills”
Throughout our journey there has always been a recognition that our key assets walk out the door each evening; in 2014 we underwent a structured process of looking inwardly through a ‘Place to Work’ analysis; this experience has offered our people a platform through which we have received some very beneficial feedback which in turn has given rise to some significant changes within the firm; most notably around how we communicate. The impact of these changes has been incredible and the ‘Place to Work’ initiatives are now an ongoing and permanent initiative within the firm.
Despite the growth of the past 18 years, growth is not our focus; growth has been a by-product of the firm doing what we do and doing it well; we recognise the importance of “sticking to the knitting”, to use another mantra of Pat’s, and our focus is to continually get better at what we do thereby surpassing client expectations.
Our business is about people, be it our clients or our staff; ‘respect’, be it self-respect or respect for each other, is a critical factor when people are involved and we approach every day with this in mind; our reputation of being a firm that is good to deal with among our clients and peers is one of which we are very proud.
The world is changing as are the needs of clients; “stand still and the world will pass you by” is particularly true in the case of technology. Rather than viewing this as a threat, we see it as an opportunity and have been investing heavily in IT systems, LEAN processes and Education over the last number of years to stay ahead of the curve with a view to being best placed to offer clients a quicker and more cost effective solution for their legal requirements.
Whilst there continues to be uncertainty globally at present, we have confidence in our clients and in our ability to get the most out of all we have learned on the journey so far, so as to provide the best possible service to our clients; we look forward to the future with cautious optimism and we welcome the new opportunities and client relationships the future will bring.
The Team at Flynn O’Driscoll.