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Firm Spotlight: DLA Piper

Who Are We?

DLA Piper is a global business law firm with more than 90 offices in over 40 countries across the globe. DLA Piper’s first parent firm was established in 1764, with the current global firm created by merger in 2005 and formally entered into the Australian market in 2011. The firm started as a brand integrated firm in 2006, where national firm Phillips Fox rebranded to DLA Phillips Fox before merging with DLA Piper in 2010 to create DLA Piper Australia as it stands today.

There are 600 staff across Australia, with 192 people in Melbourne, and offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and Perth. We practice in many areas of the law, including Corporate (M&A and funds), Litigation (commercial litigation, insurance litigation and competition), Finance Projects and Restructuring, Intellectual Property and Technology, Real Estate, and Employment.

The firm’s extensive presence in the Americas and Africa are key differentiators to other global firms operating in Australia, which tend to be more Europe and Asia focussed. Our heritage as a firm is about growth and change. We became one of the world’s largest law firms by identifying new opportunities and challenging incumbents, and this is a central tenet of DLA Piper’s business ethos.

What We Do

DLA Piper has been involved in many important matters recently. Here are just a few.

  • DLA Piper has advised Link Group in connection with the competitive dual track process initiated by Link in respect of its 44.18% interest in digital property settlements platform PEXA, which concluded with the successful initial public offering (IPO) of PEXA and the admission of PEXA to the official list of ASX on 1 July 2021.

  • DLA Piper advised the world’s largest dairy business, French-headquartered Lactalis Group, on the acquisition of the Australian-based yoghurt maker, Jalna Dairy Foods.

  • DLA Piper advised ASX-listed leading location intelligence and aerial imagery company Nearmap on its AUD1.05 billion acquisition by US private equity firm Thoma Bravo.

Alongside these, DLA Piper has some impressive accolades. In a snapshot:

  • DLA Piper is one of the largest law firms in the world by revenue;

  • We are ranked #1 Global M&A by volume for the last thirteen years (Mergermarket, 2010-2022), having been involved in 1,131 transactions worldwide in 2022, valued at approximately USD137.6 billion;

  • Most recently, the Hon. John Middleton AM KC – a former Justice of the Federal Court of Australia for the past 16 years–has joined the Melbourne firm as a senior advisor. Some graduates in the Melbourne office have already started worked closely with the Hon. John Middleton AM KC since his arrival in March, standing testament to the collaborative environment at DLA Piper across all levels.

What we believe in

DLA Piper has a vision to become the leading global business law firm. DLA Piper champions a truly commercial approach to the law, with client business interests at the heart of what we do.

Business centred innovation plays a key part at our firm – as seen by the development of the LAW& arm, which includes their twice FT Innovation Awards APAC shortlisted Business Advisory team. DLA Piper Business Advisory focuses on addressing a common problem in the market - the need for expert guidance in the areas of mergers and acquisitions and environmental, social, and governance issues.

During my Graduate rotations, I spent six months working alongside specialist management consultants in DLA Piper's Business Advisory ESG, M&A, and Radical Change teams. I worked with the team alongside some of the world's largest companies (including ASX50 clients), gaining a deep understanding of commercial drivers behind deals and an insight into the client decision-making processes (that occur before the lawyers are involved). Business is interwoven into the training of Graduate lawyers at DLA Piper – we are business-driven lawyers, not employees in a law-driven business.

DLA Piper is also one of the only truly globally integrated firms in the market – over the past year alone I have worked with colleagues in Germany, London, Hong Kong, the U.S. and everywhere in-between on substantive matters as well as various pro bono and diversity initiatives. Thanks to the popular global secondment program, I have even worked with the same colleague twice–once on a deal in Hamburg and again, in Sydney!

Our point of difference

DLA Piper is known for our international footprint – in addition to the world class work we do, we have outstanding pro bono opportunities and diversity initiatives that are of a global flavour, such as work for the United Nations, refugee advisory and representation, judiciary advisory in the Middle East, and commercial advisory in the Pacific Islands.

We also recently held our international Iris WorldPride Summit in Sydney where global staff gathered in recognition and celebration of the strength of our international Iris network, DLA Piper's commitment to LGBTI+ inclusion, and to bring together our LGBTI+ employees, clients, and allies to celebrate LGBTI+ achievements.

Our opportunities: the benefits to you as a student and graduate

  • Mobility: The global nature of the firm means there is great opportunity for mobility at the firm. At the Graduate level, I am the one of three graduates in my cohort alone who has been granted the opportunity to do a rotation in an interstate office, an option that is built into the program by firm leadership in the interest of our professional development and quality of experience during the Graduate program. Our clerk and Graduate inductions were conducted nationally as one cohort also – which means I have built a strong network of peers nationally, which made the transition from Sydney to Melbourne even smoother by design.

  • Training: Partners are invested in graduate training, which is evident in the day-to-day collaboration with partners. This has offered me the opportunity to work alongside experienced lawyers and learn from leaders in the field. This flat hierarchy at the firm allows for seamless communication and feedback, making it easier for Graduates to receive valuable insights and grow their skills rapidly.

  • Non-traditional rotations: As a training graduate solicitor at DLA Piper, I am proud to be part of a firm that offers full six-month rotations in management consulting at DLA Piper Business Advisory and pro bono work, giving graduates the opportunity to gain experience and develop skills beyond traditional commercial law practice. These unique opportunities demonstrate DLA Piper's commitment to providing a diverse and well-rounded training program that prepares graduates for a successful and fulfilling career in law.

Our culture: what you can look forward to at DLA Piper

DLA Piper hires small cohorts of clerks and graduates which has created a close-knit community of peers and allows for more personalised and diverse training opportunities. Instead of competing for work with a multitude of Graduates in a team, I am able to try a little of everything in every team and have gained a realistic understanding of the day-to-day work in each practice group. This has led to a more supportive and intimate training experience, as well as deeper professional relationships and a better understanding of legal practice.

Where to from here: the future at DLA Piper

  1. Global presence: Our world renown for our ability to work seamlessly for global clients on cross-border transactions delivering better and more efficient transaction execution. The future at DLA Piper involves further global growth and integration amongst all offices as we seek to further develop our existing strengths in integrated collaboration with our international colleagues.

  2. Sector focus: We are heavily investing in sectors that drive growth and change over the next decade – being technology, energy and natural resources, and infrastructure, construction and transport.

  3. Growth of our Corporate practice: DLA Piper is slated to grow our corporate practice further as the engine room of the firm. We’ve developed excellent capital markets and M&A credentials over recent times and we’re looking to build on these further.

For more information about DLA Piper, follow their LinkedIn or visit their website.

Written by Hannah Lee

Hannah Lee is a Graduate Solicitor working in DLA Piper’s Corporate Practice area.

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