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November 7, 2011 7:22 PM

DLA Piper Partners Appoint Tony Angel

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

Tony Angel, the lawyer who led Linklaters to the top of law firm revenue charts, joined DLA Piper today as global cochairman and senior partner of DLA Piper International, following a two-week partnership vote, the firm announced.

Angel, the former managing partner of Linklaters and former executive managing director of Standard & Poor's in London, will join Frank Burch, who had been DLA's sole global chairman, to oversee the firm's operations in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. He will be heavily involved in the firm's recruitment and development efforts in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, DLA said in a prepared statement.

Burch told The Am Law Daily that Angel's addition to DLA, already the largest law firm in the world by lawyer head count, is a sign the firm isn't done growing.

Burch and other members of DLA's leadership team first met Angel for a breakfast in May to discuss growth strategies and pick his brain on the London market. "It was one of those things where we just had a very animated conversation that went on for a couple of hours," Burch says. "And, it became clear to me that he believed in what we were trying to do and that he might be interested in another rodeo."

In the months between that meeting and the official announcement, Angel met with various members of the firm's leadership and by June the idea of adding a second global chairman began to gain momentum. Angel met with partners in many of DLA's 76 global offices solidifying their support ahead of the partnership vote, Burch said.

DLA Piper, which formed in 2005 as a combination of Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich, Piper Rudnick, and DLA, became the largest firm in the world by attorney head count in March, when it combined operations with DLA Phillips Fox in Australia. The firm now claims to have 4,200 lawyers. It had $1.96 billion in revenue last year, according to the Am Law Global 100.

"It's remarkable what DLA Piper has accomplished in such a short period of time," Angel said in a statement. "I look forward to building on my experiences and working closely with Frank, [Joint CEO Nigel Knowles], and [joint CEO Lee Miller] in helping DLA Piper reach the next phase of its growth and evolution."

Angel spent nearly two decades as a tax attorney with Linklaters before he was elected managing partner in 1998. According to a profile published in the October 2007 issue of The American Lawyer, Angel helped bolster Linklaters's global reach by expanding the firm's cross-border transactional practice and opening an office in New York. When he stepped down in 2007, the firm was among the world's most financially successful, with more than $2 billion in annual revenue and $2.4 million in profits-per-equity-partner. (In 2010 Linklaters reported $1.85 billion in revenue, according to this year's Am Law Global 100.)

Angel's election to the role is rare in legal circles, where chairmen and managing partners typically rise through the partner ranks, but DLA discarded the conventional wisdom in selecting him, Burch says.

"It's not very instructive to look at what firms have done in the past, because we think the profession is undergoing radical segmentation and evolution," Burch says. "He's been a top-tier tax and corporate lawyer, he's run one of the top firms in the world, he's run a big part of Standard & Poor's."

"He's got great values and he believes in what we're trying to do and he shares our view of what's going on in the world," Burch says. "So, we didn't hesitate for a second and worry about the fact that the guy was not in the firm."

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