DLA Piper adds 27 private equity lawyers; 'this is just the beginning,' says US vice chairman
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A group of 27 private equity lawyers is leaving Honigman to join DLA Piper in Chicago.
The move “will significantly enhance DLA Piper’s positioning in middle-market private equity,” according to an April 21 press release from DLA Piper.
Joe Alexander, DLA Piper’s U.S. vice chairman, told Law.com that private equity work has “certainly leveled out” since last year, but the second quarter is proving to be a hospitable environment for the deals.
“We’re looking for capacity,” he said. “The last 18 months have been a very busy time period.” He added that acquiring a large group of lawyers who know one another is another positive because the transition “can be fairly seamless.”
Alexander told Bloomberg Law that DLA Piper has more than 100 private-equity-focused lawyers in the United States, and it would like to continue to grow that practice in New York, Chicago, Northern California, Texas and Washington.
“We do not expect this to be the last deal in this space or the last lateral group or lateral partner in this space that we bring on in the major markets,” Alexander told Bloomberg Law. “This is just the beginning.”
Lateral movement is ticking up in BigLaw. Other firms hiring large groups include Paul Hastings (adding 43 lawyers), Norton Rose Fulbright (adding 11 lawyers), Fennemore Craig (adding 24 lawyers), Parker Poe Adams & Bernstein (adding 16 lawyers) and Reed Smith (adding 11 lawyers).
Large law firms are in a good position to pick up lateral groups, according to law firm consultant Peter Zeughauser of the Zeughauser Group, who spoke with Law.com.
“These firms have much more net operating income to play with, and with their large concentrations of lawyers in high-rate markets, they have higher average billing rates, and they’re just much more profitable. And they’re able to pick groups off,” he said.
Honigman wishes the departing attorneys well, according to a statement it provided to Law.com. The law firm said it still has “a deep bench of talent” in private equity and corporate practice, and it has added nearly 80 people in the last 18 months.
“We will have departures just like we will have arrivals,” the firm told Law.com and Bloomberg Law. “In today’s highly competitive environment, it is simply the nature of the beast for the legal industry.”