DLA’s absent friends in the North

DLA Piper in Manchester reshuffle as partner exodus continues 

The Manchester legal scene displayed its volatility again last week after DLA Piper reshuffled its management in the city following a string of exits.

DWF, Irwin Mitchell, and TLT are among those firms that have picked up DLA partners over the last twelve months. Planning partner Christopher Bowes went to Nabarro, while IP disputes specialist Graeme Orchison and commercial partner Stuart Campbell have joined TLT’s new Manchester base.

The 20 partners understood to be left in the firm’s two Manchester offices have sought reassurance on it’s future, particularly as leases on the properties are believed to expire within three-years. Now the office managing partner, David Gray, has announced plans to hand over the reigns at the end of the year to projects partner Liam Cowell.

The path between DLA and Irwin Mitchell, meanwhile, is well-trodden.

Since DLA Piper began a firm wide restructure last year, Irwin Mitchell has scooped up a 14-strong real estate team, including four partners, from DLA’s Manchester office as well as restructuring partner John Vickery. Those four partners including former office head Roy Beckett.

To be fair Irwin Mitchell’s hires haven’t been constrained to Manchester. In Birmingham the firm hired former office managing partner Chris Rawstron as head of its business legal services team in the city in March.

This appetite can be linked back to February 2011, when Irwin Mitchell snared Paul Firth, a popular figure at DLA having headed the Sheffield base and non-London managing partner.

Of course DLA is known for its revolving doors, but this is one door it will want to slam shut.