Talent, Client Service, and Brand: How DLA Piper Became the Highest-Grossing U.S. Firm in Less Than a Decade [Interview]

We’ve seen a lot of interest in this Bloomberg Law interview between Lee Pacchia and Zeughauser Group’s Kent Zimmermann on how DLA Piper became the highest grossing law firm in the United States in just nine years.

Takeaways from the interview, per Zimmerman, which includes some interesting perspective on the U.S. legal marketplace:

  • Besides its position as highest-grossing firm, DLA Piper also ranks in the top 5 among U.S. law firm brands, according to Acritas (in company with the likes of Skadden, Baker & McKenzie, Latham Watkins, and Jones Day)
  • ┬áDLA invested money in the firm brand in order to appeal to two key constituencies: 1) the clients they most wanted to keep and attract, and (perhaps mostly importantly) 2) the talent they wanted to keep and attract to the firm
  • The firm used its money to acquire top talent with big books of business
  • There are a lot of ‘copycats’ out there – lots of merger talk among law firms right now
  • About 75% of the world’s spend on legal services is here in the U.S. – and most of that is on litigation
  • In fact, more money is spent on U.S. litigation than is spent on legal services of all kinds in all countries combined
  • The U.S. has become known as the world’s ‘hell hole’ litigation jurisdiction and that drives a lot of spend
  • DLA has also ridden the macro-economic change to globalization to get where it is today. The firm followed the money out of the U.S. (where there’s money, there’s demand for legal service)
  • Although it dropped to #2 in gross revenue, Baker & McKenzie posted a more than 10% increase in profits per partner. Three reasons: 1) strongly consolidated management, 2) growth in emerging markets (earlier than most firms), and 3) a laser-like focus on key clients.

Related: Read DLA Piper’s latest legal publications in the firm’s JD Supra portfolio>>