Carson McDowell leads the way again in 2021 NI legal rankings

22 October 2020

Author: Neasa Quigley


Belfast-based law firm Carson McDowell has maintained its position at the top of the legal profession’s two most respected industry guides, Chambers UK and the Legal 500.

Northern Ireland’s largest independent law firm scored significantly higher than any of the other local legal firms with the most practice areas and most lawyers achieving the top ratings in both publications.

Carson McDowell continued its market-leading success in the Chambers UK 2021 results, which were released today (22 October), achieving the ‘Band 1’ rating in 20 out of 25 practice areas and receiving 24 ‘Band 1” rankings for individual lawyers. The firm’s Licensing team was awarded ‘Band 1’ status this year for the first time.

The firm also out-ranked any other NI competitor in the Legal 500 earlier this month, with 12 out of 13 practice areas achieving Tier 1, 12 lawyers recognised as leading individuals and a further 8 listed in the directory’s hall of fame. For the second year running, Carson McDowell is the only Northern Ireland law firm ranked as Tier 1 in the Planning & Environment category.

At the start of this year, Carson McDowell announced that it had reached the significant milestone of employing 100 lawyers for the first time, over two thirds of whom are women - bringing the firm’s total headcount to over 180 people.

Managing Partner, Roger McMillan, said that since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic in March, the firm’s advice and expertise has been in high demand.

“Carson McDowell has always been 100% focused on delivering for our clients and since coronavirus struck, disrupting all of our lives and most sectors of the economy, we have concentrated on helping them meet the challenges to their businesses.

“We are fortunate to represent a range of commercially sophisticated local businesses and high-profile international clients operating in and from Northern Ireland. It has not been an easy year for any business, but I am very proud of the contribution that our people have made across multiple service lines to help our clients to adapt and adjust to the new normal.”

Neasa Quigley, Senior Partner at Carson McDowell added: “Carson McDowell has long had a policy of hiring and developing the best talent and I know from the feedback we get from our clients that they value the expertise our teams provide.

“I would like to extend our thanks to our clients and pay tribute to the resilience and ambition they have shown and continue to show in the face of the difficulties presented by COVID-19. As we look ahead to the challenges of the future – chief amongst them the impact of Brexit – our team of recognised experts is already supporting and will continue to support our clients as they navigate their way through this uncharted territory.”

She added: “The continued strong performance in these rankings serves to highlight our ongoing commitment to delivering the highest levels of service to all of our clients. At a time of global uncertainty in the economy and in society, that remains our primary focus.”

The Chambers UK guide, which ranks the best law firms and lawyers, covers 50 cities and counties in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Published annually, the rankings are based on extensive research and the independent opinions of clients.

The Legal 500 directory is an independent series which is widely regarded as the world’s largest legal referral guide. Over four million users visit The Legal 500 website each year, where firms and individuals are recommended purely on merit. Published annually, the rankings are based on the independent opinions of clients and in-depth research carried out by an experienced team of editors.