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March 16, 2011 7:40 PM

DLA Piper Goes to Delaware

Posted by Brian Baxter

DLA Piper announced on Wednesday that the firm would open an office in Delaware with 10 lawyers from Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge. Five partners and five associates will comprise the firm's new office in Wilmington, a hot spot for bankruptcy work.

Francis Burch, Jr., global chairman of DLA, told sibling publication The National Law Journal that a Delaware rule that restricts out-of-state firms from practicing in the jurisdiction was a major reason why his firm wanted an office in Wilmington.

"We've had to regularly hire local counsel because of the barriers that exist in Delaware for lawyers practicing outside of the state," Burch told The NLJ. The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that DLA is advising Starwood Capital on a potential acquisition of the Viceroy resort on the Caribbean island of Anguilla through bankruptcy proceedings in Delaware.

Joining DLA are Stuart Brown, the former head of Edwards Angell's restructuring and insolvency practice, and restructuring partners Selinda Melnik and R. Craig Martin. Also heading to the firm are Denise Kraft, the former cochair of Edwards Angell's U.S. commercial litigation group, and litigation partner John Reed, who previously was managing partner of Duane Morris's Wilmington office.

Edwards Angell associates Paul Brown, Michelle Marino, Cynthia Moh, K. Tyler O'Connell, and Aleine Porterfield are joining their former colleague partners at DLA. Brown will be of counsel at DLA, which has been on a bit of a new office opening kick lately.

In February the firm bolstered its Latin American practice and launched a new office in Miami with two international arbitration hires from Squire, Sanders & Dempsey. DLA also established an alliance with Venezuelan firm InterJuris Abogados in Caracas. A year ago, DLA announced a similar alliance with Brazilian firm Campos Mello Advogados in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.

Last week, the Toronto Globe & Mail reported that DLA had entered into merger talks with most of Canada's top ten law firms. DLA previously has held discussions with Canada's 650-lawyer Fasken Martineau DuMoulin. A Fasken spokesman told the Globe & Mail that the firm was "not in merger talks" with DLA.

In January, DLA officially became the world's largest law firm with 4,000 lawyers under its banner after announcing a merger with Australian alliance partner DLA Phillips Fox. Some partners from the latter firm have left since that announcement, stating their preference to be part of smaller domestic shops, rather than the full-service firm offered by DLA.

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