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DLA joins Canadian club at last as it announces Davis deal

Having long sought a presence in Canada, DLA Piper has finally struck a merger deal with Vancouver-headquartered firm Davis. The partnership at Davis approved the merger in a vote held last week and the firm will be rebranded as DLA Piper Canada when the deal closes in April.

The merger will add around 250 Canadian lawyers, including 112 partners, to DLA Piper’s 4,000-strong operation. Davis is well-known for its work on major energy and infrastructure projects and is run out of nine offices. It has eight Canadian offices in Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Penticton, Whitehorse and Yellowknife. Its biggest office is in Vancouver, where it has around 60 lawyers, followed by Toronto, where it has around 40 lawyers. The firm also has an outpost in Tokyo through an associate office called Davis & Takahashi.

It is a mid-tier firm in its domestic market, considered a step below the country’s Seven Sisters, a term used to group together top-tier firms Blake, Cassels & Graydon; Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg; Goodmans; McCarthy Tétrault; Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt; Stikeman Elliott; and Torys.

It is ranked by The Legal 500 as a top-tier firm in infrastructure and projects, alongside Blake, Cassels & Graydon, Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg and McCarthy Tétrault, and is ranked in the fourth-tier for work in the power sector. The firm is also ranked in the fourth-tier of The Legal 500 for banking and finance work. The firm’s biggest clients include Rio Alto Mining and Japanese corporates Sumitomo and Mitsubishi.

The merger seals DLA Piper’s entrance into the Canadian legal market just over a year after having held talks with lawyers from the Toronto office of now defunct national firm Heenan Blaikie. It is the firm’s first office launch since Simon Levine replaced Sir Nigel Knowles as co-CEO on 1 January and the first office opening for the firm since launching in Seoul at the start of 2013.

‘As a G20 nation and the principal trading partner of the US, Canada has been, for some time, an integral part of our global strategy,’ said Roger Meltzer, DLA Piper’s global co-chair. ‘Davis is a firm with a long and successful history and the right combination of talent and experience centered on core areas of DLA Piper’s focus. Our combined enterprise will not only enhance our service offering in the Americas and around the world, but it will allow Davis’s practices and capabilities to expand more deeply as part of the DLA Piper global brand.’

Robert Seidel QC, managing partner of Davis, added: ‘This is a one-of-a kind opportunity to join a leading-edge global firm with high-profile legal professionals committed to helping clients succeed through practical and innovative legal solutions. We recognize that many of our clients’ interests are now international as the markets for their products and services become increasingly global.’

DLA Piper’s last substantive merger came in 2011 when the firm executed a financial merger with DLA Phillips Fox in Australia to add offices in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

The firm has also today (2 March) announced that DLA Phillips Fox in New Zealand, which has 25 partners and nearly 70 lawyers, will be rebranded as DLA Piper.