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Stephen OFlaherty

Stephen O'FlahertyPartner

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I am a Partner working in the sport, technology and professional services sectors.

I joined Lewis Silkin in 2012 as a paralegal and became a Partner in April 2022. Before joining the firm I gained experience working in Legal Procurement and Cost Consultancy. I worked as a Business Development and Account Manager for an Irish Telecoms group prior to qualification as a solicitor.

I hold a Bachelor of Arts (2003) and a Bachelor of Laws (2008) awarded by National University of Ireland, Galway. I qualified as a solicitor in England and Wales in 2012 after completing the Legal Practice Course.

I also hold a Post-Graduate Certificate in Sports Law awarded by De Montfort University in 2016 and am a member of the Immigration Law Practitioners’ Association.

Immigration & Global Mobility

My work is split between general commercial immigration and the recruitment of International Sportspeople (see below).

I work with a lot of companies in the tech sector and have experience of advising companies from start-up stage right through to IPO, ensuring they have the support and processes required to recruit international talent effectively and remain compliant with their duties as Sponsor Licence holders.

Our aim is to take the stress out of the visa application process and ensure employees have a positive onboarding experience.

Sports Business

I advise sports clubs and agencies on the international transfer of players and coaches with a focus on football. I work closely with recruitment and analysis teams to review player’s eligibility for Governing Body Endorsements and advise on appeals where they do not meet the automatic criteria. I also advise on visa applications under the International Sportsperson route for players, coaches and their families.

I have extensive experience advising on the recruitment of international coaching staff and understand the importance of managing the onboarding of up to 10 new coaches and support staff quickly and compliantly. I have advised on the recruitment of 7 of the current Premier League management teams.

My recent work includes:

  • Advising a number of football clubs in the Premier League and Championship on the recruitment and hire of a management team
  • Advising football clubs on the compliance requirements post-takeover and managing the process to ensure the club can continue recruiting international players during the transfer window
  • Advised a Governing Body on the recruitment of the national team head coaching and additional coaches
  • Successfully advising a Premier League Club at Exceptions Panel on an out of contract player;
  • Advising Transfer Edge on the development of their GBE Calculator & platform
  • Advising a professional golf tour on it’s UK tour event
  • Successfully advising several clubs at Youth Player Exceptions Panels
  • Advised on over 100 International Sportsperson applications in 2022.

Awards and Recognition

  • Chambers 2024 (Immigration: Business (UK-wide)) - "He is fantastic to work with, offering strong communication and solid knowledge that make everything seamless." "Stephen has excellent interpersonal skills and is able to give clear, commercial advice."
  • The Lawyer Hot 100 2022 (Immigration) - 'Stephen’s discretion and hard work have been keys to his success. He will make his mark with club executives with his confidence and clarity of counsel’
  • Legal 500 2023 (Immigration) ‘clear, practical approach‘. ‘I’ve worked with Stephen O’Flaherty for a couple of years now and he is a trusted partner to our team. As well as his immigration expertise, he has a clear, practical approach which helps us to understand the full picture of a situation. We value Stephen’s support very highly.’ ‘I appreciate how they’ve taken the time to get to know our company and our values. They connect with us as people first and foremost and want to make sure they are adjusting to our business and needs. Stephen O’Flaherty has been a very strong partner in our UK set-up and has provided catered advice on everything from our RTW checks, Sponsorship licence, ongoing compliance, and day-to-day casework.’
  • Legal 500 2022 (Sport) - ‘Stephen O’Flaherty has a positive approach to every challenge and is meticulous in his work and knowledgeable in his field. No matter how many clients Stephen and his team may be working with, he always make you feel like you are his priority’
  • Legal 500 2022 (Immigration) - ‘Stephen O’Flaherty explains complex areas in plain language and makes sure that the stress of immigration law is taken off the client. He is always available for advice and support’
  • Legal 500 2021 (Immigration) - ‘Stephen O’Flaherty is the best immigration lawyer I have worked with in my years dealing with global mobility. He goes above and beyond to help with quirky or difficult situations, is very responsive and incredibly personable. He is highly is trusted by my company – even those who don’t work directly with him are aware of both the good working relationship we have and also his expert knowledge’
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