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DLA Piper Lays Off Hong Kong Lawyers

DLA Piper Lays Off Hong Kong Lawyers
LawFuel - The Law Jobs and News Wire
DLA Phillips Fox, a member of the DLA Piper global alliance, has also been releasing some lawyers
DLA Piper, the international legal conglomerate and associated with New Zealand firm DLA Phillips Fox, announced that it is laying off 20 lawyers and 34 staff across its Asian offices in response to "the deteriorating economic climate."

"This decision was not taken lightly, yet we believe it is one that is strategically and commercially responsible given the existing market environment," Alastair Da Costa, the head of DLA Piper's Asia practices, said.

DLA Phillips Fox has also released several staff from its New Zealand offices in Auckland and Wellington in response principally to the property downturn, although the firm has not made any specific announcement relating to solicitors that have been "let go". Other firms have also been releasing lawyers, mainly in the property area, from their practices.

DLA Piper is the result of aggressive merger activity involving regional U.S. and U.K. firms and has become of one of the largest Asia practices of any international law firm, with offices in Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo and Bangkok as well as offices in all the Australian major cities and in Auckland and Wellington.

A firm spokesman said the majority of the cuts were in the Hong Kong office -- the firm's largest in the region, with over 100 lawyers -- and were primarily focused on transactional practices.

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Hong Kong is the Asian hub for capital markets work, which has fallen off dramatically worldwide since last fall. DLA Piper is one of several firms that built large practices in the area in anticipation of a continued stream of initial public offerings by emerging Chinese companies.

Other big capital markets players such as Linklaters and Allen & Overy are widely presumed to have included Hong Kong in recently announced global layoffs, but those firms have yet to detail their cuts by office.

Most foreign firms have far smaller offices in Asia than the Magic Circle firms or DLA Piper, and some partners at such firms are optimistic about avoiding similar cuts. One Hong Kong managing partner for a leading New York firm said that firms like DLA Piper had "just grown too big" and added that he thought his firm's local office of fewer than 15 lawyers was "right-sized for the market."


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