DLA Piper targets Eastern Europe with EY Law raid

Transatlantic firm in advanced talks to add 100-lawyer CIS network as global office count hits 50

DLA Piper targets Eastern Europe with EY Law raid” />DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary is in advanced negotiations with EY Law Europe’s four CIS offices as it prepares for a major assault on Eastern Europe.

At the same time, the firm has acquired its 50th office worldwide following a raid on Atlanta’s Alston & Bird.

It is understood that DLA Piper is in advanced talks to acquire the entire CIS network of accountancy-tied EY Law, consisting of offices in Moscow, St Petersburg, Tbilisi and Kiev. If concluded, the move would give DLA Piper around 100 lawyers and coverage in Georgia, the Ukraine and St Petersburg for the first time. The hires will also add 45 lawyers to the existing five-lawyer Moscow office.

Accountancy-tied legal networks have been crumbling since the introduction of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, but the CIS branch is regarded as one of the jewels in the EY Law crown. One source close to the deal said: “It’s consistent with the revised global outlook. Ernst & Young isn’t in the global legal business any more.”

DLA Piper managing partner Nigel Knowles said: “We’re in discussions with EY Law about the possibility of integrating, but no formal decision has been made at this stage and a proposal has not been taken to the board.

“In principle, a tie-up would be a good thing for us as we already have a presence in Russia and are keen to further develop our capabilities in this country and those countries that surround it.”

At the same time, DLA Piper has unveiled its 50th office, located in North Carolina, after hiring a five-partner US real estate team from Alston & Bird. The team specialises in real estate investment trusts (Reits) and consists of partners Brad Markoff, William Klapp, Robert Bergdolt, Jeffrey Sullivan and Jeffrey Miller, as well as five other lawyers.

DLA Piper is no stranger to the grand gesture. In the last year, the firm secured the largest lateral hire in the history of the UK legal market by taking 11 media and IP partners from Denton Wilde Sapte, and it launched in Germany after raids on former ally Görg.