League table puts 281 HK lawyers on top of world

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 May, 2011, 12:00am


DLA Piper, the world's largest business law firm by number of solicitors, has taken the top spot in a league table of the most pre-eminent international legal services providers.

Earlier this month, the firm, whose major clients include Li Ka-shing's Cheung Kong Infrastructure Holdings and mainland insurance giant Ping An, completed a merger with DLA Phillips Fox of Australia to create a global practice with more than 4,200 lawyers operating out of 76 offices in 30 countries.

Magnus Hoglund, the co-founder of United States-based Law360, a publisher of litigation news, yesterday announced that DLA Piper and the 19 other law firms on its list 'have been aggressive in expanding beyond the borders of their home countries and answering their clients' call for multi-jurisdictional know-how'.

The top three firms in Law360's 'Global 20' - DLA Piper, Baker & McKenzie and Norton Rose Group - have at least 70 per cent of their lawyers stationed outside the firm's home country and together have 120 international offices in more than 40 countries.

The seven other firms in the top half of the rankings included Clifford Chance, White & Case, Hogan Lovells, Linklaters, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Dewey & LeBoeuf and Shearman & Sterling.

According to Law360, it ranked each firm in five categories: the number of countries where it has offices, the number of offices outside its home country, the percentage of lawyers working outside its home country, the breadth of its international work and the size and complexity of its cross-border work.

While the recent economic crisis forced brutal cutbacks for most law firms, Law360 said its Global 20 continued to expand, opening offices in their home markets and across Asia, Africa, South America, Europe and the Middle East.

'Our clients are seeking full-service global mandates and demanding increasingly seamless international services,' Alaistair Da Costa, the Hong Kong-based managing director of DLA Piper's Asia-Pacific operations, said in a statement.

'We are in the process of implementing a 'bigger-picture' organisational structure, based along groups; organising the firms global operations in terms of work performed rather than geographic location,' Da Costa said.

'This is a process that we believe will transcend lawyer training and work efficiency and will get right to the heart of branding, marketing and financial performance.'

In Hong Kong, the number of its fee-earning lawyers increased to 281 in April this year, compared with 259 in April last year.

Across the Asia-Pacific, it has more than 700 lawyers operating out of 11 offices.

The legal firm advised a consortium led by Cheung Kong Infrastructure in the GBP5.8 billion (HK$73 billion) acquisition of Electricite de France's power distribution assets in Britain last year.

It also advised Ping An last year in its US$3.2 billion acquisition of Shenzhen Development Bank.


1. DLA Piper

2. Baker & McKenzie

3. Norton Rose Group

4. Clifford Chance

5. White & Case

6. Hogan Lovells

7. Linklaters

8. Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

9. Dewey & LeBoeuf

10. Shearman & Sterling

11. Jones Day

12. Mayer Brown

13. Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton

14. Latham & Watkins

15. Orrick Herrington & Sutcliffe

16. Weil Gotshal & Manges

17. Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom

18. K&L Gates

19. Paul Hastings Janofsky & Walker

20. Reed Smith