DLA Piper joint managing director of Europe and the Middle East Olaf Schmidt told The Lawyer that the two recent office closures in Georgia and Berlin were caused by a lack of profitability.
This news comes after the firm made a decision to close in Berlin three days before closing Georgia, with its team and premises transferring over to DWF and Dentons respectively.
Speaking to The Lawyer, Schmidt said: “The strategy is to focus on the profitable businesses, becoming slightly smaller and operating offices in those regions where our clients need us most.”
When asked about the nature of the two offices closing within days of each other, Schmidt commented that it was “pure coincidence”.
“Both decisions did not evolve in parallel and had completely different contexts,” he said. “One is almost in Russia and the other is in the heart of Germany. We are focusing on offices where we can be profitable.”
While Schmidt wouldn’t reveal which were the most profitable offices he added “you’d be surprised to hear it’s not Paris, profitability has very little to do with being at the heart of Western European countries.”
Commenting on the firm’s latest acquisition, DWF Germany managing partner Michael Falter said: “This team gives us Fintech capability along with traditional finance capability. It’s a great reason to move into Berlin from our perspective for our Qatari and Saudi clients.”
Unlike DLA Piper, DWF is committed to growing the office according to Falter, unlike DLA which preferred instead to “focus on other offices they have in Germany”.
Dentons Europe chairman Evan Lazar said: “A few years ago we outlined a strategy for growth in Europe which included enterting the Italian and Luxembourg market in addition to bolstering our position in the CEE/CIS market. Georgia is at a crossroads between Europe and Asia and everyone in the team is tier one rank. We saw an opportunity and we took it,” Lazar says.
Despite this re-think of its Europe capability, DLA Piper said its European revenue was €338m up six per cent from the year before, representing 17 per cent of global revenue. On this basis, revenue per lawyer in Europe was €463,000, with average revenue per partner of €1.25m.
The effort to boost profitability accompanies a net profit increase of 6 per cent to $643.5m (£527.1m) last year, while revenue declined by 3 per cent.
Net profit rose from $605.3m (£495.9m) during 2016 after falling nearly 10 per cent in the 2015 financial year.