DWF has hired ex-DLA chair Sir Nigel Knowles as its new chairman, replacing Alan Benzie who was in place for over 10 years.
Knowles retired from DLA Piper at the end of June 2016 after nearly 40 years at the firm, filling the roles of managing partner, CEO and chair of the firm. He is credited with leading the firm’s rapid expansion to its current form as a global firm.
Knowles will work alongside DWF managing partner Andrew Leaitherland, whose strategy has included working on several international office openings in the last year.
Knowles said: “DWF’s approach is exciting and fresh, their focus has been and continues to be centred on their clients – and anyone who knows me understands that for me, it’s all about the clients.
“Andrew and his team have built something really different here. I’ve watched their significant progress in recent years and when Andrew talked to me about the opportunity and where he, the Board and the partners wish to take the firm, it was a very easy decision. I’m looking forward to working with Andrew and his team.”
Leaitherland added: “Alan has been a fantastic chairman over the past 10 years, helping DWF transform from a North West law firm to global legal business and we thank him for his commitment and hard work.
“Over the past few years, we have laid the foundations to create something completely different in the legal market for our clients and Sir Nigel Knowles is the perfect chairman to help us take this forward as we develop our business – Sir Nigel is a very natural fit for DWF. We’re redefining legal services, by connecting legal expertise with a broad range of products and services to solve our clients’ business problems from start to finish. To have Sir Nigel join us is a huge vote of confidence in our strategy.
“His vision and talent for creating what has become one of the world’s most successful law firms will be of enormous benefit to our clients and people as we focus on the next stage of our journey.”
In the latest financial results for DWF, the firm hit the £200m turnover target after missing it for three consecutive years.The firm grew its turnover by 8 per cent on last year’s figure of £187.1m.
In 2017, DWF launched in Latin America through a local tie up with Vagedes & Associados in Argentina, Fabrega Molino in Panama and Duarte Garcia Abogados in Colombia. It launched in Singapore with hires from Eversheds Sutherland, including local managing partner Oomen Mathew; and opened a Berlin office by taking over DLA Piper’s offering.
In the same period, the firm launched its first office in France through a merger with four-partner Paris firm Heenan Paris; and launched an association with Saudi Arabian firm Harasani & Alkhamees, giving the firm offices in Riyadh and Jeddah announced nearly two years after the firm launched its first Middle East office in Dubai.
In the UK, the firm went fully agile following its merger with Triton in January 2017, and shut its Preston office and relocated its five-strong team of partners to launch a specialised motor services capability in Liverpool.