DLA Piper sets sights on Ireland in European expansion push

Dublin Four Courts And Bridge By Night

DLA Piper is planning to expand its European footprint with office launches in the Republic of Ireland and Denmark.

Plans for a Dublin office are “fairly advanced” according to Juan Picon, the senior partner of DLA Piper’s international limited liability partnership, which covers the firm’s non-US business.

Picon said a launch in Ireland would be a “natural expansion from the UK”, falling under the remit of UK managing partner Sandra Wallace.

“Post-Brexit, there will be more institutions looking to have a presence in Ireland so opening there would be consistent with our strategy,” he said.

The firm has an existing relationship with Irish firm Mason Hayes & Curran, but it is not clear if an opening in Dublin will involve a merger with a local firm or an independent office launch.

Other firms to have targeted Ireland post-Brexit include Pinsent Masons, which appointed a property agent last summer to scout possible office locations in Dublin.

Firms including Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Slaughter and May, Allen & Overy, Hogan Lovells, Clifford Chance, Herbert Smith Freehills, Simmons & Simmons and DLA Piper have registered lawyers on the roll of solicitors in Ireland, both before and after the referendum on the EU.

This is in order to register their lawyers in a jurisdiction that will remain in the EU if and when the UK leaves the trade bloc.

DLA is also planning to open an office in Copenhagen, Denmark, in a bid to round out its Nordic operation – which it grouped together in a separate verein last year.

The Nordic verein, which was constituted in January 2016, has member firms in Sweden, Finland and Norway, all operating under the DLA brand.

Picon said that in the Nordic region, Denmark is the “only relevant market we are missing”, and that moves to establish a presence there are “well advanced”.

The firm has also been expanding in Latin America in the last year, striking a cooperation agreement with Bahamondez Alvarez & Zegers in Chile in December 2016.

DLA is now targeting Peru, with Picon and US-based global co-chairman Roger Meltzer having drawn up a shortlist of four potential Peruvian firms to partner with. The firm also has ambitions to do a deal in Argentina, to complete its coverage of the region.

DLA may look to roll out the model it uses in the Nordic states to Latin America, by grouping its affiliated firms together in a separate verein.

Picon said: “The verein structure is working well for the Nordics and Canada and it will be the best model possible for Latin America. It is a very important market with 620 million inhabitants and we want our operation to be a truly regional one.”