Top Criminal Lawyer Michael Bowman earned €659,358 last year –

Michael Bowmna, a lawyer who represented a string of people in high-profile criminal cases last year received €659,358 in criminal legal aid payments including VAT, figures show. 

Michael Bowman SC is the most in-demand criminal defence lawyer in the country and last year on average earned €12,679 per week in criminal legal aid payments for his defence work in the courts.

All figures include VAT at 21 per cent  to 23 per cent.


During 2020, Mr Bowman represented serial sex offender, Patrick Nevin (38) of Meadowlands Court, Mounttown Road, Dun Laoghaire, Do Dublin, and the teenager found guilty of the manslaughter of Azzam Raguragui (18) at Finsbury Park, Dundrum, on May 10, 2019.


Mr Bowman is also representing Co Louth’s Lisa Smith (38), who is accused of ISIS membership.

Michael Bowman represented the State last year in Patrick Quirke’s (51) appeal against his murder conviction of Bobby Ryan, known as “Mr Moonlight” and Mr Bowman receives separate fees from the DPP for his prosecutorial work.

The legal team of the man convicted of the capital murder of Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe after the longest murder trial in the history of the State also feature prominently in the record of criminal legal aid payments made and received an aggregate €1.9m for work on all cases during the year.

The figures show that Aaron Brady’s (29) defence counsel, Michael O’Higgins SC received €598,747,  Fiona Murphy SC received €518,847, Justin McQuade BL received €336,528, Kate Hanley BL received €228,116 and Katie Stevens BL received €223,553 for all cases last year.

Mr Bowman, Mr O’Higgins and Ms Murphy were the only three barristers to receive payments in excess of €500,000 last year.
Four other barristers received fees in excess of €300,000 – Keith Spencer BL €446,827, Cody Colman SC €341,122, Seamus Clarke SC €322,093 and Giollaiosa O Lideadha SC, €313,323

The figures provided by the Dept of Justice show that Dublin-based solicitor, Michael Hennessy, operated the only solicitor’s practice to receive in excess of €500,000 when the practice received €638,843.

Five solicitors practices received legal aid fees of €400,000 to €500,000; Tony Collier, €468,623, John Quinn, €460,871, Michael French, €447,237, John O’Doherty, €423,098, and Aonghus McCarthy, €414,203.


In 2018 Mr McCarthy (35) escaped a conviction for possession of €26 worth cocaine on a professional visit to Mountjoy prison on February 8, 2017 after a judge accepted his explanation that he did not know the drug was on his person.


Mr McCarthy’s practice has received €2.34m in criminal legal aid fees from the State over the past eight years.

The legal practice operated by top criminal lawyer Cahir O’Higgins received just over €290,000 in criminal legal aid payments.

The cash that Mr O’Higgins’ practice received in 2020 puts it in the top 20 table of criminal legal aid payments last year.

Words: Gordon Deegan

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