DLA Piper moves to integrate Euro offices

DLA Piper moves to integrate Euro offices” />DLA Piper chief executive Nigel Knowles has launched a plan to involve significantly more Continental-based partners in the firm’s senior management as it seeks to integrate its slew of European M&A activity.

The move follows the conclusion of a major review of DLA Piper’s UK, Asian and European operations.

Knowles said: “If anything, responsibility was too narrowly held. We need to bring in more Continental partners into management.”

The changes, due to go live on 1 January, will see the firm’s international practice streamlined into eight vertical, sector-focused groups. They will also result in the financial reporting responsibilities gradually shifting away from regional managing partners to the new group heads.

Up to 35 new management positions will be created, including the external-facing role of strategic projects director. Current managing director for Europe Steven De Keyser has been appointed to this role, in which he will have responsibility for relationships with DLA Piper’s core group of ‘priority’ clients. Former UK head Andrew Darwin has replaced De Keyser.

Knowles said: “On 1 May 2002 DLA had 19 people working on Continental Europe. Now there are more than 1,000. We now have the critical mass that demands we introduce a new structure. We were operating sub-optimally.”

Previously DLA Piper had operated a vertical profit centre in the UK and geographical groups across Continental Europe.

“It wasn’t working,” said Knowles. “You don’t get a free flow of ideas or clients, as everything tends to stop at the boundaries. Now we’ll no longer see Europe as the UK and the Continent.”