DLA's Darwin returning to London, ex-Minters CEP to be Aus chief

DLA Piper’s former UK managing partner Andrew Darwin is to return to the firm’s offices in London after a two-year stint overseeing its operations in Australia.

Darwin, who relocated to Sydney in January 2013 on what was understood at the time to be a troubleshooting mission, will continue to work as the firm’s international chief operating officer but will not resume his role as UK head, which was previously handed over to IP partner Mark O’Connor.

In Australia Darwin is to be replaced by ex-Minter Ellison head John Weber, who will join the firm in November and work closely with Darwin during a transition period.

Weber was previously chief executive partner at the independent ‘big six’ outfit for more than five years, during which time it opened offices in Beijing and Mongolia, launched an Asian tax practice and hired a number of lawyers across the practice.

He stepped down from the role in June and was replaced by a former board advisor to King & Wood Mallesons (KWM), Tony Harrington.

DLA Piper has undergone a number of changes in Australia in the last two years, including downsizing its offices from its 201 Elizabeth Street premises, where it occupied 8,000 sq m, to a new space at 1 Martin Place, where it now has 6,000 sq m.

The firm, which entered the Australian market in 2006 through an alliance with local outfit Philips Fox and currently counts five offices located in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Brisbane and Canberra, also shook up its practice management teams in the country after the departure of Australian chair Tony Holland and head of banking and projects for APAC Damien McNair, both of whom left for Gilbert + Tobin.

Then in December the firm announced further changes, with its regional offices to be by led by a three-strong, US-dominated advisory committee, created to establish better synergies between the US and Asia.

Darwin was among the team and will continue to work alongside global co-CEO Terry O’Malley, and US co-chair, Jay Rains, in managing the Asia offices after his relocation back to the UK.

In a statement about the appointment of Weber he said: “Our Australian business has made significant progress over the past couple of years, as we have more closely aligned our local practice with the global firm.

“John joins us at an important time, as we continue to build our capability in Australia and our ability to provide an ever more unified and seamless experience for our clients, both domestic and international.”