DLA Piper's regional offices under scrutiny in profitability review

DLA’s firmwide review could see less profitable offices downsized

DLA Piper is conducting a firmwide review of office and partner profitability, in a move that is expected to see the transatlantic firm’s regional UK offices come under scrutiny.

The review, which is being led by management including global co-chairman Tony Angel, is expected to see DLA Piper move away from less profitable work and streamline its partnership in a bid to increase profits per equity partner (PEP) .

Partners within the firm told Legal Week that regional offices in the UK are facing particular scrutiny, with some suggesting that Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham and Glasgow could be downsized as a result of the review. Outside the UK, offices in Germany and Eastern Europe are also thought to be under focus.

While no formal proposals have been taken to partners, options thought to be under consideration include shutting or downsizing UK regional offices and increasing the amount of low-value work sent to its part-owned LawVest venture, which could allow the firm to trim the parts of its business carrying out less profitable work.

Individual partners are also expected to be set tougher performance targets for the next 12 to 18 months, while one former partner suggested that another option could be the creation of separate profit pools for the regional bases, thereby protecting DLA’s core profits from dilution.

One ex-partner said: “This intensified focus on profits seems to have come out of Tony’s arrival. Inevitably regional offices with lower hourly rates look less profitable, but DLA should be careful to remember its roots; it’s not the premier firm in London, but it still is in the Northwest.”

DLA declined to comment; however, one UK partner countered: “We are looking all the time at practices and profits, but you’d have to be barking mad to get rid of the regions. This review is more about restructuring than hiving off or closing anything up north. Of course, profits are in focus; this is something that needs to be done.”

Related: Finishing the job at DLA – what Tony did next.

  • Click here for a video interview with Nigel Knowles and Tony Angel