With Eye on Region, DLA Piper Restructures Leadership In Asia

DLA Piper’s recent leadership changes in Asia represent “the next step in a plan to evolve the practice there,” and keep pace with a rapidly maturing practice of law in the greater China region, Terence O’Malley, the firm’s Asia Committee chairman, told Bloomberg BNA.

Last week, the firm announced that Shanghai-based partner Qiang Li and Hong Kong-based partner Satpal Gobindpuri will serve in newly created positions as co-regional managing partners for Asia.

“Our Greater China practice, as with many firms, has shifted from primarily representing [multinational companies] for inbound foreign direct investment in the [People’s Republic of China] to more outbound investment by Chinese companies,” O’Malley said via email.

The firm now claims about 260 lawyers in Asia with offices in Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong plus additional offices in Korea, Japan, Singapore and Thailand.

According to O’Malley, years ago, before the firm became a global behemoth with thousands of lawyers located in 40 countries, one of its predecessor firms conducted several mergers with small Asian firms. That led to “some parts of the practice being unusually local for a global firm,” he said via email.

“We needed to do a significant restructuring of our business there to have it better aligned with the kinds of clients and services we offer at the firm, and we’ve done that,” O’Malley added, explaining that included bringing on lateral hires.

He said the Chinese legal market is also changing, with work migrating to mainland China from Hong Kong. Besides mergers-and-acquisition work current key practice areas in Asian markets include regulatory compliance, including transboundary investigations that may include counseling clients on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and commercial dispute resolution, he said.

The two new co-managing partners of Asia will report to a three-person Asia committee that is composed of O’Malley and Jay Rains, both in San Diego, as well as London-based partner Simon Levine.

Email the reporter at sjoyce@bna.com.

Email the editor at gabefriedman@outlook.com.