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Down under: third office closure in a month for DLA as it shuts in Canberra

DLA Piper has closed its Canberra office, marking the firm’s third office closure in a month following its exit from Tbilisi and Berlin.

DLA’s two partners in Canberra, Caroline Atkins and Anthony Willis are both leaving to join local firm Maddocks and the rest of the 17-person office will leave with them.

Canberra is a focus for government work in Australia. However, the firm retains its four other key commercial offices in Australia: Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Sydney. The latest closure is not part of any any formal or informal strategic review of the firm’s business.

In a statement, Jim Holding and Melinda Upton, co-managing partners of DLA Piper Australia said: ‘We remain absolutely committed to all our government clients and will continue to provide them with the same level of service from our four Australian offices outside Canberra, as well as through the considerable government contracting expertise of our global sector team. We thank our team in Canberra, and wish them all the best.’

Last month DLA shut down its Georgia operations with all fee earners, including two partners, departing for Dentons. The retreat was the second office closure for DLA in March after the firm confirmed it was to close its Berlin office after its sole partner moved, alongside an of counsel, to launch DWF’s offering in the German capital.

Financial services partner Nina Siedler and real estate lawyer Irene Schmid will join DWF’s office alongside Wolfgang Richter, who joined DWF Germany following the firm’s 2016 merger with German commercial law firm BridgehouseLaw. He will head the new Berlin office as an executive partner alongside five other lawyers.

According to DLA’s most recent LLPs, the firm’s international operating costs increased by £10.6m to £502.7m, which the firm said was ‘largely attributable to inflationary salaries and key investments into delivering effective and efficient client service’.

The accounts also showed that total staff numbers at the firm have reduced, from 4,926 in 2015 to 4,916 in 2016. Despite this, the overall number of fee-earners has increased, from 2,036 to 2,044.