So the experiment ends as a qualified success. News of the early-timed succession planning at DLA Piper confirmed that well-regarded IP and technology partner Simon Levine is to assume Nigel Knowles’ role as co-chief executive, with Knowles next year taking on the role of co-chair in place of Tony Angel.
Angel, of course, had been recruited two and a half years ago to sharpen up DLA Piper’s governance, financial management and improve links with its US business. Recruiting the former Linklaters managing partner was pretty much unprecedented in the profession in terms of hiring a c-suite executive from one major firm to another, and very different institutions at that. The official message was that Knowles had spontaneously pressed his old mate to join Team DLA. There was a degree of spin in that. While the pair had long been friendly, there was pressure from the US – which had grown weary over a series of missteps in Europe and the Middle East – for Angel’s appointment.