DLA Piper will be undertaking a vastly different strategy in the Australian market compared to fellow new arrival Clifford Chance.
Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, DLA Piper Australia managing partner Tony Holland said his firm would not be concentrating on high-end corporate transactions.
"Our vision is to be a full service business law firm. We are not there just for the big ticket, one-off M&A deals," Holland said. "We are there to develop long, deep, client relationships; to be with clients for the journey. That is the approach that we want to take."
Holland said his firm hopes to compete across the entire corporate legal spectrum, including M&A, but that the firm is not "driven by just doing M&A deals".
"It is driven by being there if they have an IT issue, or a real estate issue or an employment issue," he said. "It is to be there for all of their needs, not just one particular aspect."
The DLA Piper model is drastically different to that of Clifford Chance, which also officially opened on 1 May. The global giant is concentrating on high-end corporate and litigation work and is happy to refer "add-ons" to other firms in areas in which it doesn't have expertise.
To celebrate the five offices and over 470 lawyers of DLA Phillips Fox officially becoming part of the global DLA Piper network, a host of DLA Piper's senior partners have been in Australia this week.
DLA Piper US managing partner Terry O'Malley said the reason Australia became attractive to the firm was due to the increasing economic clout of the Asia-Pacific.
"The Asia-Pacific will represent a majority of the GDP growth in the world over the next decade," he said. "You can't be a meaningful part of what goes on in the world without having a meaningful position in the Asia-Pacific region."
The Australian arm of DLA Piper will form the crux of its Asia Pacific operations, given that it has five of its 11 offices in the region.
DLA Phillips Fox had a strategic alliance with DLA Piper for five years before becoming a formally integrated part of the firm. Europe managing director Andrew Darwin said that despite global rivals such as Norton Rose and Allen & Overy entering the Australian market before them, its timetable for formal entry was not altered by the actions of competitors.
"Genuinely, that had no impact at all," he said. "We had a timetable mapped out and we stuck to our timetable. What everyone else did was a bit of a coincidence."