DLA Piper has confirmed that six Canberra based partners have resigned from the partnership. The shock news happens just a week after the firm entered the Australian market via a merger with DLA Phillips Fox.
Six out of eight partners in Canberra have resigned from the partnership, all moving to HWL Ebsworth's new office in Canberra.
These partners indicated that while they agree that integration with DLA Piper was the best course of action for the Australian firm, they themselves do not wish to be part of a global business law firm, the firm said in a statement.
The departing partners include Richard Garnett, Lex Holcombe, Stuart Imrie, George Marques, Melanie McKean and Michael Will.
DLA Piper managing partner, Australia, Tony Holland said: "We are committed to providing outstanding service to our clients and we'll remain focused on ensuring that ongoing matters are not disrupted.
"We're also collaborating with the departing partners to ensure that clients will continue to receive the high quality legal support they have come to depend on. We will also do everything we can to support our Canberra based staff."
About 50 per cent of the work the firm does for the Australian Government is performed in offices outside Canberra. The firm declined to comment further on how the 50 per cent of work usually done by the Canberra office for this client would be distributed, or whether the departing partners would take the work.
Holland said the firm is continuing to grow its commercial client base. "The announcement of the global firm has already generated enquiries from very interesting potential lateral partners, which we are looking at very closely."
The departure of the Canberra based partners takes the total partner headcount for DLA Piper Australia to 106.
DLA Piper lost a number of partners to other local firms after the integration. Most recently, nine DLA Phillips Fox partners defected just weeks out from the official commencement of the DLA Piper merger.
The Brisbane partners will join law firm Thomsons Lawyers in Brisbane. The partners included Tony Conaghan in IP and technology, Philip Byrnes and James Daniel in corporate, Ron Eames, Michael Marshall and Chris O'Shea in real estate, Philip Dowling and Eugene Fung in corporate and Andrew Kelley in finance and projects.
The nine Brisbane-based partners voted against the integration with DLA Piper. DLA Phillips Fox said more than 90 per cent of its partners voted in favour of integration, but that a small portion did not want to join a global law firm.
In March this year the firm also lost Iain Rennie to TressCox Lawyers in Sydney.