DLA Piper breakfast at Ramsay’s

There is an irresistible comparison to be made when you discover Nigel Knowles having breakfast in one of Gordon Ramsay’s New York restaurants.

One, as we all know, is outspoken, brash, ubiquitous. The other used to play footie for Rangers. Boom boom.

To be fair, the labels Knowles often gets stuck with are unfair. He’s justifiably proud of the relentless march of his organisation. Ramsay may want to take Manhattan, but Knowles is after the world.

Judging by the number of DLA Piper partners tucking in at Maze yesterday morning, the firm at least appears to have annexed Ramsay’s restaurant. Aside from Knowles, I spotted the firm’s US managing partner, Terry O’Malley while recovering from jetlag in another corner was Knowles’ number two, Andrew Darwin, Asia head Alastair Da Costa and Italy managing partner Federico Sutti.

The DLA Piper contingent was in town for a global management meeting and there was little time given over to worrying about credit crunches and downturns with this lot – all were particularly upbeat about their firm’s current prospects.

Apparently the Emea numbers for January 2008 compare very favourably with 12 months ago. Not every firm can say that.

Maybe some of the people who snipe at DLA Piper, and by association, Knowles are those who see it as a threat to their business (whether or not they care to admit it)?

Take private equity. DLA Piper is hardly the first firm on most people’s lips when it comes to mega deals. These days there aren’t any mega deals around anyway, but Knowles argues that his firm has put in the long hours building relationships on the smaller jobs (say up to £500m) that in busier days the top tier firms might have snubbed as too piddling.

Knowles’ line to these clients? They didn’t want you then, why go back to them now?

“We’re up for a scrap,” Knowles says.

Ramsay couldn’t have put it better himself.

To read more Byrne in the USA blogs, click here.