DLA Piper and the shrinking Asia partnership

What is it with DLA Piper and Asia Pacific? When the firm merged with DLA Phillips Fox in 2011 the combined firm boasted 135 partners across its Australian practice. By the end of last year the number had shrunk to 100, despite it being one of the biggest promoters in the country.

Now partners are beginning to leave its Hong Kong office in greater numbers than would be expected from simple attrition. This exodus started in May, when a four-lawyer team made up of Asia corporate head Mabel Lui, local partner Daniel Tang, of counsel Polly Chu and associate Natalie Tsang quit for Winston & Strawn.

They were followed in June by corporate partner Esther Leung, who left to join Chinese firm Jun He. Now three more partners, two in Hong Kong and one who recently transferred from Hong Kong to Singapore, have also quit.

Jolyon Ellwood-Russell has left for Simmons & Simmons, Giovanni Marino has moved to US firm Winston & Strawn and Ben Sandstad, who joined DLA from Mayer Brown JSM a year ago, is understood to have moved in-house to Standard Chartered Bank.

The moves come after DLA Piper last year revamped its Asia management structure, putting in place an Asia advisory committee made up of San Diego-based global co-CEO Terry O’Malley and Americas co-chair Jay Rains, and Australia managing partner Andrew Darwin. They took over leadership responsibility from then Asia Pacific managing director Bob Charlton with the aim of increasing integration between the firm’s US and Asia practices.

Charlton stood down from the partnership at the time to take on a consulting role at the firm, but now appears to have left DLA too. Who will be next?

Also on TheLawyer.com:

  • A former Herbert Smith Freehills partner joins the line-up of partners launching a Brisbane office for Baker & McKenzie
  • Clifford Chance’s China head of litigation and arbitration Patrick Zheng joins Clyde & Co as Beijing office managing partner
  • And, former Linklaters capital markets partner Nigel Pridmore takes a new role at Ashurst’s Hong Kong office, more than four months after quitting the magic circle firm in London
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