Ex-BLP partner Somers surfaces at DLA Piper

Another former Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) big-hitter has arrived at a rival firm, with the former Managed Legal Services head Patrick Somers joining DLA Piper today.

It emerged that Somers had quit BLP in July, prompting the downgrading of the insourcing project (22 July 2013). He was followed out the door by a number of high-profile partners, including acquisition finance partner Andrew Bamber, contentious tax head Liesl Fichardt who was snared by Clifford Chance (4 September 2013), and private equity head Raymond McKeeve, who quit for Jones Day (20 August 2013).

It is the second partner hire from BLP for DLA since the start of the financial year, following the addition of Rob Salter who joined the firm in May having worked with key clients such as Tesco and Balfour Beatty while at BLP.

Somers launched MLS as a client insourcing project in 2010 with the high-profile acquisition of the entire legal work of Thames Water, including its 14 lawyers in Reading, but they were not joined by general counsel Joel Hanson, who stayed within the company’s secretariat (25 March 2010).

Prior to that he had previously been general counsel at energy company Lattice Group, later part of National Grid.

DLA Piper UK head of corporate Bob Bishop described Somers as “a natural fit for the firm”, adding that the “goal in corporate is continuing to expand the group and become a bigger engine to supply work in the UK and around the group”.

Exits from across the firm at BLP have raised questions as the firm’s viability lately with about 27 partners having had their LLP appointments terminated since November 2012, according to the firm’s filings at Companies House. BLP places the figure at 16 (20 August 2013).

Since the start of 2012/13, the firm has seen the departure of finance partner Lisa Marks to Stephenson Harwood (9 July 2013), restrusturing partner Simon thomas to Addleshaw Goddard, IP specialist Gavin Llewellyn to Davenport Lyons (9 September 2013) and longstanding head of the information law unit, Adam Rose who quit for Mishcon de Reya (2 September 2013).

DLA has also seen several partners come and go, and is in the midst of bulking up its corporate group. A fourth corporate partner, James O’Donnell, is joining the firm next week from an associate role at Debevoise & Plimpton. Meanwhile a further three lateral partner moves are in the pipeline in the coming two to six weeks.

In July BLP reported a global revenue slump of £13m, dropping to £233m (19 July 2013). The firm has delayed the release of its average profit per equity partner figure until some time this month but insiders have predicted as much as a 40 per cent drop (30 July 2013).