Legal Business

Norton Rose and DLA post rising revenues as global footprint drives growth

Norton Rose has reported an 8.7% increase in global revenue, marking a turnaround from two years of declining revenue.

Profit per equity partner (PEP) jumped almost 33% from $1.05m to $1.4m in 2023, as the number of equity partners declined by 21% from 644 to 506.

This follows a stagnant 2022 for the firm, which saw a 1% drop in global revenue, with PEP remaining static. It is understood that the drop in total equity partner numbers came as a result of the firm standardising its definition of an equity partner across all regions.

The firm credited its growth during 2023 to expansion across various regions and practices, especially in the US, where revenue rose by nearly 13% due to increased demand for disputes advice, as well as work for clients in the banking, finance, projects and energy sectors.

The firm’s EMEA region also experienced a 6.5% rise in revenue, driven by a strong year for banking, litigation and regulatory work, offsetting lower demand in corporate and real estate.

Recent work of note has included advising battery materials company Euro Manganese on its $100m funding agreement with Orion for an innovative waste recycling initiative in the Czech Republic, fielding a team led by Legal 500 project finance Hall of Famer Martin McCann.

Meanwhile, in the US, a team of projects lawyers headed by Chicago-based partner Sameer Ghaznavi recently advised IRG Acquisition Holdings on the acquisition of a 1365-megawatt renewables portfolio from American Electric Power for $1.5bn, comprising wind and solar projects across 11 states.

Elsewhere, global co-head of energy Noam Ayali and partner Rebecca Abou-Chedid in Washington DC, and Charles Hord in New York, led a US team representing debt providers to Houston-based energy company NextDecade Corporation’s Rio Grande LNG export terminal. The project financing, valued at $18.4bn, is the largest in US LNG history.

During the past year, the firm made over 40 lateral partner hires and announced 36 partner promotions, resulting in a marginal partner growth rate of just over 1%.

In London, recent hires have included disputes lawyer Alison Kellett, who joined from BNP Paribas in November where she spent 15 years as head of global dispute resolution for the UK, Channel Islands and Nordics, as well as banking and finance specialist Christopher Akinrele who joined as a partner from Eversheds Sutherland, both based in London.

Conversely, the firm also experienced a series of partner departures throughout 2023, particularly within its litigation practices following the unexpected resignation of global chief executive Gerry Pecht in September.

Six additional global leaders followed Pecht in leaving the firm, including global COO and CFO Robert Otty, global CIO Ann-Michele Bowlin, global head of risk advisory and chief talent office Jane Caskey, global head of digital Sean Pratap, global co-head of information governance, privacy and cybersecurity Ffion Flockhart and global chief strategy alignment, innovation, and people officer Wayne Spanner.

Elsewhere, DLA has announced its eighth consecutive year of revenue growth, posting an increase of almost 4% on 2022 to reach $3.7bn, marking a near 35% increase since 2019.

PEP rose by 11.7% to reach $3.1m, while the number of equity partners decreased by nearly 10.5% from 373 to 334.

The firm has been actively recruiting laterals this year, with a notable influx of partners from Norton Rose. Five partners joined DLA from Norton Rose’s Frankfurt, Sydney, Vancouver, and Washington DC offices.

Among the recent additions to DLA Piper’s London office are energy and infrastructure M&A specialists Steven Bryan and Paul Doris, who joined from Paul Hastings and Brown Rudnick respectively. Andrew Sackney also joined from Pinsent Masons where he where he led the global investigations practice.

In 2023, DLA Piper elevated 73 lawyers to partnership across its 42 offices. Corporate saw the largest intake of new partners, comprising 25% of the promotions, including Laura Marcelli and Sam Whittaker in London.

The firm attributed its overall revenue growth to its diversified practice areas and global footprint, with strong transactional demand in certain areas of Western Europe and the Middle East compensating for reduced corporate activity elsewhere.

As part of the firm’s strategy to expand in key markets including New York, Chicago, California, Texas and Washington, the Americas region reported a 5% increase in revenue. This growth spanned various transactional areas including private equity, investment funds, M&A and venture capital.

Recent standout matters led by the firm’s London lawyers have included M&A partners Bob Bishop and Jon Kenworthy advising Warner Bros. Discovery and Liberty Global, joint owners of leading television production and distribution company ALL3Media, on its agreed £1.15bn sale to RedBird IMI in March.

In December, the firm’s teams in New York and Washington advised Ooredoo Group, a Qatari multinational telecommunications company, in entering into definitive agreements with Mobile Telecommunications Company and TASC Towers Holding to create the largest independent tower company in the MENA region, valued at $2.2bn.

Legal Business

DLA to open new Germany base as Paul Weiss hires from Simpson and Macfarlanes for Brussels bow

DLA Piper has expanded its presence in Germany with the opening of its fifth office there, with confirmation of the move coming as Paul Weiss pushes ahead with a competition launch in Brussels.

Adding to its offices in Frankfurt, Hamburg, Cologne, and Munich, DLA Piper is set to establish in Düsseldorf on 15 April this year.

The new Düsseldorf office, under the leadership of office managing partner Michael Cieslarczyk, will comprise members of the firm’s existing 290-lawyer team in Germany. Joining Cieslarczyk will be corporate partner Murad Daghles and recently appointed employment partner Christian Freiherr von Buddenbrock and his team, known for their expertise in company pension schemes.

The firm will look to move to permanent offices in the city next year.

News of DLA Piper’s latest European expansion comes in a week of moves on the continent. Paul Weiss is set to follow its high profile London re-launch with a planned opening in Brussels, with confirmation of the launch coming on the back of a record-breaking financial year for the US firm, with revenue surging by nearly 11% in 2023 to reach $2bn.

The much-touted move sees the firm add antitrust partners Ross Ferguson from Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett and Richard Pepper from Macfarlanes for the launch.

The launch represents Paul Weiss’s first steps into continental Europe and comes amid an ambitious English-law build out under the leadership of high profile acquisition finance partner Neel Sachdev and private equity partner Roger Johnson, who joined from Kirkland last year.

DLA Piper and Paul Weiss’s expansion coincides with a strategic decision by major German law firm Noerr to separate from four of its CEE offices situated in Bratislava, Budapest, Bucharest, and Prague. These offices will now join forces with European independent Kinstellar under a non-exclusive friendly cooperation arrangement.

Alexander Ritvay, co-managing partner at Noerr, explained the rationale behind this decision: ‘We have been pursuing a strategy of qualitative growth for many years. While this strategy is working very well in Germany, we have to recognise that the CEE markets have not developed in a comparable way.’

Legal Business

Changing of the guard: DLA Piper elects next managing partner

DLA Piper has today (23 February) announced the election of Charles Severs as its next managing partner. His tenure will begin on 1 January 2025.

Severs moved to DLA Piper as a partner in 2003 from Herbert Smith Freehills.  A Legal 500 Hall of Famer for M&A: Lower Mid-Market Deals, Severs has an impressive client book including John Menzies, Symphony Technology, Science Group, Elekta, Hexcel, Puretech and Keller Group.

He has held several leadership roles at the firm, including international group head of corporate, managing director for groups, and managing director for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa. He has been a member of the firm’s executive management team for 10 years and is an executive sponsor for graduate recruitment and the firm’s client listening program.

Simon Levine, who has held the position of international managing partner and global co-CEO for the past ten years, will take up the role of strategic innovation partner, leading DLA Piper’s innovation and strategic transformation programme. Levine was re-elected to managing partner in 2018 in an uncontested election following his first term, where he took over from Sir Nigel Knowles in 2015.

Since 2018, the firm’s revenue has increased by 40%, and it recorded a revenue of $3.69bn in 2023.

Levine will help Severs prepare for the new role over the next 10 months while continuing in his position as managing partner until the end of his term on the 31 December 2024.

‘Charles has been an integral part of my management team for the past decade, and it will be an honour to pass the baton of DLA Piper’s leadership over to him at the end of the year. Not only is Charles an outstanding lawyer, but his strength lies in his proven ability to lead and also to listen. I have every confidence that Charles is the right person to guide DLA Piper into a bright future,’ said Levine.

Commenting on his election, Severs said: ‘This is an incredibly proud moment for me. I have spent the vast majority of my career at DLA Piper and care passionately about this great firm and the fantastic people that make us who we are. Simon will be a tough act to follow, and I’m delighted that we will continue to benefit from his vision for innovation. We certainly have an exciting future ahead.’

Legal Business

Life During Law: Natasha Luther-Jones

When I was 12, I was a competitive swimmer, and I used to swim every morning before school. If you’re swimming that much, your swimsuits get see-through, so for training, sometimes you’d have to wear double swimsuits, and that’s a bit of a drag when you’re in a competition. I’d asked my mum for a new swimsuit, but she said I would have to wait till the end of the month. I asked her how I could become rich to be able to afford a new one. She said: ‘You can become a solicitor, or you can marry someone rich.’ So, from then on, my decision was made to become a lawyer.

I got work experience in a small solicitors’ firm on our high street in Bangor, North Wales, and was focused on doing a law degree. I knew it was very competitive to get a training contract, so I did law and French. Then I got a training contract with Garretts, part of Andersen Legal. Six months into my training contract, DLA took the Leeds office, I transferred, and 23 years later I’m still here!

Legal Business

Sponsored briefing: Addressing the gender imbalance

We ask three of DLA Piper’s female M&A stars some of the most pressing questions currently facing women in the sector. Partners Tracey Renshaw, Laura Marcelli, and Victoria Rhodes answer below

In your opinion, what specific factors contribute to the under-representation of senior women in M&A, and what steps can be taken to address this imbalance?

Legal Business

New brooms for DLA as Hoy named London managing partner and Bishop replaced as corporate co-chair

DLA Piper has appointed IP litigation partner Ruth Hoy as its next London managing partner, succeeding the longstanding Tom Heylen.

The move came during a considerable time of change for DLA after the firm last week announced that German partner Benjamin Parameswaran would be replacing the respected London partner Bob Bishop as global co-chair of its corporate practice.

For her part, Hoy (pictured) has considerable pedigree with the firm, joining DLA in 2005 and making partner in 2008. From 2012, Hoy led DLA’s UK IP practice, and in 2019 was named global co-chair of the firm’s fashion and retail sub-sector. In The Legal 500, Hoy is recognised as a ‘leading individual’ in both the IP: trade marks, copyright and design and retail and consumer categories.

Hoy commented: ‘Our London office is such a critical part of the firm and its success is in no small part down to the people who make up our exceptional team. I will give my best to ensure that every single person working in the London office understands their importance to DLA Piper and feels that this is a place where they belong, and where they can, and are inspired to, thrive and grow.

‘I look forward to continuing to build on the firm’s reputation in the City and beyond and further deepening our relationships with our clients and the communities we serve.’

For international M&A partner Heylen, it is the end of a six-year term that began when he succeeded Lord Tim Clement Jones in 2016. Prior to joining DLA Piper, Helyen spent five years with the Health and Safety Executive; part of which was spent in a policy unit in Whitehall leading government policy on OP pesticides.

It also marks a transition to a new role for Heylen, that of UK client and sectors partner. In his new position, Heylen will work alongside Stéphane Lemarchand, managing director for clients and sectors, to deliver DLA’s client and sector strategy in the UK.

Meanwhile, erstwhile corporate co-chair Bishop assumed the role in 2014 and earned plaudits during his eight-year tenure, with peers describing him as ‘bright and credible’ and a progressive force within the firm. In 2018, Bishop stood in DLA’s senior partner elections, ultimately losing out to fellow London transactional partner Andrew Darwin.

Parameswaran joined DLA in 2010 and gained significant leadership experience after being appointed country managing partner for Germany in 2014. The firm describes Parameswaran as one of the corporate group’s ‘most active M&A partners’ and a leader of ‘some of the firm’s most valuable global client relationships.’

Parameswaran takes the corporate helm alongside fellow co-chair Kathleen Ruhland, who is based in Minneapolis in the US.

His headline matters include advising Rolls-Royce on various acquisitions and sales, as well as acting for Qualcomm on its $3.5bn joint venture with TDK Corporation.

Legal Business

The Global 100: Analysis – What’s the deal with DLA?

‘The whole place didn’t collapse, did it?’ So quips Simon Levine, almost six years since he took on the leviathan challenge of succeeding Sir Nigel Knowles as global co-chief executive and managing partner of DLA Piper. Nevertheless Levine, characteristically self-deprecating and garrulous, especially in light of the firm not being razed to the ground, has clearly never shaken off the stigma of the succession being likened by Sir Nigel himself to Manchester United’s legend Sir Alex Ferguson stepping down. As if taking over from a man acclaimed for shaping DLA into what was once the world’s largest law firm over 18 years was not daunting enough. ‘I didn’t want to go the way of Moysey,’ said Levine at the time.

It is rare for opinion to be unanimously glowing about a law firm leader, but it was about Knowles, who in May became chief executive of listed law firm DWF in what may be perceived as arguably an even bigger challenge than what lay before him at DLA.

Legal Business

DLA shakes off coronavirus jitters to crack £2bn global revenue amid 7% profit hike 

DLA Piper has pulled off a fifth consecutive year of profit growth for its International LLP while breaking the £2bn barrier for global turnover and exceeding £1m in profit per equity partner (PEP).

The eye-catching set of results will be a shot in the arm for the firm, even as the coronavirus pandemic continues to threaten international businesses, and builds on a similarly robust showing last year in spite of sustained investment in DLA’s infrastructure.

The accounts reveal turnover for its International LLP, which covers all non-US offices, grew 13% to £1.1bn from £974m last year.  Globally, revenue hit £2.1bn from £1.9bn in 2018/19 and PEP grew 3% to £1.1m, while the non-US businesses saw a 4% PEP increase from £814,398 to £848,301.

Meanwhile, London office revenue accounted for £170m, a 5% uptick on £162m last year.

DLA’s global net profit increased 7% to £555m and net profit relating to the International LLP rose 9% to £222m from £203m last year.

Practice group-wise, litigation was the largest contributor, generating 36% of revenue at £760m, followed by corporate, which generated £570m, some 27% of the firm’s turnover.

In a bid to mitigate the impact of Covid-19, DLA in April furloughed some of its non-fee-earning staff using the UK Government’s job retention scheme. More than half of those that were furloughed have now returned with the remainder following suit once the office has reopened.

DLA also deferred its partner profit distribution round, originally slated for May, until the end of August.

Legal Business

Sponsored firm profile: DLA Piper

DLA Piper’s EU-Greek practice draws from the widest pool of experience and track record in EU/international and domestic law to offer a full range of services to clients doing business with, in and from Greece and Cyprus. The team comprises highly-qualified legal professionals, each bringing a core level of skills and experience in domestic public and private law, energy law, M&A, as well as EU and competition law. Under the leadership of Orestis Omran, the team advises Greek and Cypriot businesses and governmental organisations, as well as international businesses active in the Greek and other regional markets.

The EU-Greek practice serves as a gateway in two directions: inbound and outbound – to and from Greece and Cyprus. The Brussels-based team is also in a unique position to represent the interests of Greek-speaking clients at the law and policy-making levels of the EU institutions in Brussels. The team works very closely with the London finance and projects team on transactional matters, including structured finance, project and privatisations work.