Sir Nigel Knowles (pictured) will retire from DLA Piper at the end of June after nearly four decades at the firm, the vast majority of which he spent spearheading a rapid globalisation of the firm into one of the world’s largest.
Knowles’ retirement will see him vacate his current titles as co-chairman and senior partner of the $2.5bn-a-year law firm at the end of April. He will retire two months later. The decision kick-starts a leadership race that hopes to find a new senior partner for DLA Piper’s non-US businesses by the end of March.
One of just a handful of commercial lawyers to receive a knighthood in recent memory, Knowles executed a string of mergers that culminated in one of Big Law’s few transatlantic tie-ups in 2005 when the UK’s DLA combined with US law firms Piper Rudnick and Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich. He served as chief executive of international arm of DLA Piper following the merger before stepping down at the end of 2014. Simon Levine succeeded him as co-chief executive.
Knowles said: ‘The creation of DLA Piper is my proudest achievement, and I will always remain close to the firm, but now is the right time for me to stand down safe in the knowledge that I am leaving the firm in very capable hands.’
Levine added: ‘The contribution that Nigel has made to the firm is immeasurable. His vision and leadership over nearly 20 years has played a huge part in the creation of DLA Piper, taking the firm from 6 UK offices to the global firm it is today. We are all extremely proud of everything Nigel has achieved and are very pleased that he will continue to have a very close relationship with the firm.’
For more Legal Business analysis of DLA Piper’s succession see: Simon says – DLA Piper gears up for a life after Nigel.