DLA chairman Angel to be replaced by Knowles in management shake-up

DLA Piper’s co-chairman Tony Angel is to step down from his role next year, as part of a major shake-up of senior leadership which will see co-CEO Sir Nigel Knowles take over the chairman position.

The move, which is set to come into effect from January 2015, will also see London intellectual property partner Simon Levine take over from Knowles as co-CEO.

Meanwhile, Americas co-chair and corporate and finance practice head Roger Meltzer will become joint global co-chair alongside Knowles, while Americas co-chair Jay Rains will step into the joint-CEO role alongside Levine. Angel’s fellow global co-chair, Lee Miller, will remain at the firm in a senior advisory capacity.

DLA also confirmed there would be additional changes to the structure of the global board, however all management changes at the firm are subject to a partner consultation and will be voted on later in the year.

Knowles was re-appointed to another three-year term as joint chief executive and managing partner in January 2012, having first been appointed to lead the firm in 1996.

“Our partners have got to think this is a good idea and they will,” said Knowles. “But the real reason to do this is to support our clients in the best way we can.”

The consultation will also look to organise practice groups and practice group leadership along global reporting lines.”There will be alignment across everything we do, and that includes practice group leaders,” added Levine.

It is not yet known whether Angel will remain at the firm after he steps down. DLA has not yet decided on whether to keep the senior partner role Angel has also been carrying out since joining in 2011. His term as senior partner outside the US was due to expire in April 2015.

Angel joined the firm in 2011, having previously worked as managing partner of Linklaters between 1998 and 2008 during a 30-year stint at the magic circle firm that saw him become a partner in 1984 and head of tax in 1994.

At the time of his recruitment by DLA Angel’s role was billed as having two central planks – uniting its US and international businesses, including potentially financial integration, and pushing the business upmarket. To date, his time with the firm has been synonymous with a far-reaching review of UK office and partner profitability.

The review involved 251 lawyers and back office staff, with the firm confirming in January that 69 support staff were made redundant last year following the centralisation of its document production team in Leeds, with a further 45 redundancies associated with the closure of the Glasgow office. DLA also divested its 50-strong defendant insurance practice in its bid to move away from less profitable work.

During his tenure as managing partner he helped transform Linklaters into a leading global player and instituted an aggressive drive to boost individual partner performance and align the firm’s business around premium work for a tighter group of bluechip clients.

Following his departure from the magic circle firm he joined Standard & Poor’s as executive managing director and head of the credit ratings agency’s EMEA operations.

He went on to become chief executive of healthcare technology group Vantage Diagnostics, and also took up a non-executive director post with rival UK law firm SJ Berwin.

Levine is currently DLA’s co-managing director for groups and sectors, and formerly led the firm’s IP and technology practice group. He joined DLA in 2004, leading negotiations on behalf of a 11-partner exodus from Dentons TMT practice.

Related: Connecting the dots – DLA Piper brings in Angel to polish up its global ambitions.