DLA Piper has merged its litigation and regulatory teams, creating one super group for the Europe, Middle East and Africa (Emea) region.
The move reflects the decline of litigation and the importance of regulation to the City's law firms. The merger of the practice groups effectively reverses a move made in 2003 when the regulatory group was carved out of the firm's larger litigation and dispute resolution practice. Since then it has gone from pulling in an annual revenue of £8m a year to around £23m.
The regulation and litigation group, which boasts 450 lawyers across the region, is headed by London-based Neil Gerrard, until now head of the firm's regulatory and government affairs group.
According to Gerrard, the initial division came about because the firm recognised that regulatory issues were on the increase and it wanted to focus on that area.
"At the time the market was very different and the firm wanted to commit itself to that area," he said. "That's what we did and significant growth has been achieved. The reality is that the potential market is bigger than anyone had anticipated and merging the teams is a way of assisting with that growth."
Julian Stait, who was the firm's Emea litigation chief as well as being co-global head of litigation and arbitration, will not have a management role, but will instead concentrate on fee-earning and winning clients.
Andrew Darwin, DLA Piper Europe managing director, said Stait will continue to be a major player in the firm's dispute resolution practice, adding that he has done a high level of fee-earning for some time.
Darwin added that, by sharing resources across the two groups, the firm will be better placed to service clients' needs.