A Brief History of the Firm
Arthur Cox & Co commenced practice in 1920 at 5 St Stephen’s Green. There were two partners – Arthur Cox and John McAreavey.
The firm was so successful that by 1926 they had outgrown No 5 and acquired two of the most elegant buildings on the Green – numbers 42 and 43. From the outset, Arthur Cox & Co’s client list was enviable. The birth of the Free State created many opportunities for work and as a friend and trusted advisor to the State’s founders, Arthur Cox’s influence in shaping industrial policy over the next three decades was immense. He opined on many landmark documents such as the Treaty and is widely acknowledged as the architect of The Companies Act, 1963. Although an intensely private individual, Arthur Cox ventured somewhat reluctantly into public life during the 1950s. He served as President of the Incorporated Law Society 1951/52 and was nominated by the Taoiseach to the Senate in 1954, where he sat for three years.
In 1961, following the death of his wife, Arthur Cox decided to bow out of busy practice life to join the priesthood. He was very fortunate that the firm’s affairs could be placed in the capable hands of Niall McLaughlin, Daniel O’Connor and Frank Scott (each of whom would later have sons in the practice: Paul and Peter McLaughlin, Dan O’Connor and Ian Scott). On 15 December 1963 he was ordained a priest and the following year, at the age of 73, he set off for a well-established Jesuit Mission in Monze, Northern Rhodesia. This gentle, albeit primitive, lifestyle suited Fr Cox very well. On 11 June 1965, he met with his untimely death following a road traffic accident. The news of Arthur Cox’s death was a double blow to his former partners back in Dublin as that very same week Frank Scott died suddenly of a heart attack.
Late 1965 and the firm had four partners: Niall McLaughlin, Daniel O’Connor, Vincent Walsh and Denis Bergin. In 1971 Arthur Cox & Co amalgamated with Peeble Knox and Pigot and by 1974, with ten partners and a sizeable support staff, it became necessary to take additional office space. The second floor of a newly built office block at 44-45 St Stephen’s Green fitted the bill. In 1985 the magnificent 41 St Stephen’s Green was added to the firm’s menagerie, with its exquisitely carved staircase and original decorative ceilings. By this time, to accommodate its staff of almost 60, the firm was also occupying the first floor of 44-45. The 90s hailed a whole new era of expansion for the newly named Arthur Cox and by 1996 it had doubled in size and opened an office in Belfast. On 31 December 1997, the front door of 43 St Stephen’s Green was closed for the last time as the 200 strong practice took up residence in 55,000 square feet of modern office space in the Earlsfort Centre – almost twice the space previously occupied. Since then, it has gone from strength to strength, beginning the new millennium with a staff in excess of 300.
Arthur Cox is one of Ireland’s largest law firms, with almost 100 partners. The firm continues to maintain its position as the top commercial law firm in Ireland.