DLA Piper partners have okayed plans to move the firm to a Swiss Verein structure, dispensing with plans for global financial integration in the process.
Following ;the ;2005 merger of DLA, Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich and Piper Rudnick, the firm said it would unify its accounting systems. While integration has gone as far as pooling global costs, the firm’s balance sheets on either side of the Atlantic remain separate.
The firm’s joint CEO Nigel Knowles said moving to the Swiss Verein structure will decentralise the firm’s governance, adding: “What we’re pushing hard on is not financial integration, but business integration. There will be a lot more money going into dealing with global expansion and rewarding partners. The important thing about the Verein structure is that it allows the right sort of governance because it gives independence to the holding vehicle and emphasises that we’re neither a UK or US firm.”
Currently DLA Piper’s global entity is a Delaware based ;limited-liability partnership (LLP), which is not an operating body and has no members. This will be dissolved in favour of the Verein, which the firm’s US and international LLPs will become members of. From a governance and tax point of view, the Verein is attractive because it means members are only bound by regulators in their own countries.
In addition to changing its business structure, DLA Piper will axe one of its three CEO roles, with Baltimore-based Frank Burch standing down today (30 June). He will become chairman on 1 January, replacing George Mitchell, who will remain a board member.
London-based Knowles and Chicago-based Lee Miller remain as joint CEOs.