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May 2, 2011 2:01 PM

DLA Piper Becomes Biggest Firm with Aussie Deal

Posted by Brian Baxter

UPDATE: 5/12/11, 9:40 a.m. Information on six partners leaving DLA Piper's Canberra office has been added to the third paragraph of this post.

DLA Piper became the world's largest law firm by attorney head count on Monday after combining operations with former Australian alliance partner DLA Phillips Fox.

The Am Law Daily reported in January on DLA's plan to finalize its integration with 700-lawyer DLA Phillips Fox by May 1. The two firms had an exclusive alliance since 2006, and a successful integration of both firms creates a legal giant with roughly 4,200 lawyers worldwide.

Partners at both firms voted in favor of the merger in February, but some lawyers at DLA Phillips Fox chose to forego joining their larger counterpart in favor of leaving the global firm for smaller Aussie rivals. Among the departures were former corporate partner Iain Rennie, who joined TressCox in late March, a week after nine of his colleagues left the firm to establish an office in Brisbane for Thomsons. (Note: Six partners have also left DLA's Canberra office, according to sibling publication The Asian Lawyer.)

The Phillips Fox name lives on in New Zealand, where the firm's offices in Auckland and Wellington cut ties with their Aussie counterpart last year, reports Asia Legal Business. The firm recently appointed six new partners, giving it a total of 26.

The completion of DLA Piper's merger with the bulk of DLA Phillips Fox will give the combined firm more than 700 lawyers in the Asia-Pacific region, according to a statement by the firm. DLA now operates out of 76 offices in 30 countries and has alliances with firms in 17 additional countries.

On Friday, DLA picked up ten lawyers in Sacramento after absorbing local boutique Stevens, O'Connell & Jacobs, boosting its presence in the Golden State's capital to about 25 lawyers.

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