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DLA Piper Look At Taking Failed Canadian Firm Lawyers

By on February 9, 2014

The closing of Canadian law firm Heenan Blaikie has provided an opportunity for the biggest law firm in the world to move into the Canadian legal market.

DLA Piper is planning to hire up to 70 lawyers to add to its international complement of over 4,200 lawyers following Heenan Blaikie’s vote to wind the firm down, although several of the firm’s practise groups will continue to operate under other names, including those lawyers being sought by DLA Piper.

The group that DLA Piper are intrested in includes about 25 to 30 partners with expertise in litigation, corporate work, capital market, banking and other areas, he said.


The WSJ Law Blog reported that details of the arrangement, including tax and accounting issues that could dictate what structure the union would take, are still being worked out.  If talks succeed, Roger Meltzer co-chairman of the Americas for DLA said, the Heenan Blaikie spinoff would then take the DLA brand and receive investment, credit and marketing support from the global DLA Piper entity, which brought in $2.4 billion in revenue in 2012.


“We’re in deep negotiations,” Mr. Meltzer said. “We are already referring work to them and have been for a little while… I think we are well on our way.”


While Baker & McKenzie, the second-largest global law firm by headcount, opened up shop in Toronto back in 1962, other legal giants have been slower to make the move north.


That’s changing now. DLA Piper’s foray comes as other global firms are making inroads into the Canadian legal market, drawn by the prospect of energy and corporate work, as well as the relative security of Canada’s financial services industry.


A decade-long commodity boom fueled plenty of mergers and acquisitions and other corporate advisory work for the country’s legal community, which includes a number of large firms with 500 or more lawyers. But much of that has business has recently slowed as commodity prices weakened amid slowing demand from China.


Like other entities tied to the Canadian corporate sector, Heenan Blaikie has suffered from a drop-off in work as resource companies put deals on hold.


Mr. Meltzer described the slowdown as cyclical, adding “we think that they’re kind of at the nadir, that they will eventually get this right, that the commodities market will come back when worldwide economies are on a better footing.” He said moving into Canada makes long-term sense for DLA Piper, which would gain a number of experienced lawyers whose skills could benefit the global firm when applied to matters such as mining work in Africa.

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