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Global Law Firm Whale Food

Just when you think it’s safe to go back in the water, global law firm whales come back to feed.

The most recent hungry whales are Norton Rose Fulbright and DLA Piper.

Norton Rose Fulbright acquired British Columbia-based Bull, Housser & Tupper LLP on September 12, 2016 in a merger that will take effect January 1, 2017.

This adds another 90 lawyers to the international roster of 3,800 and a Vancouver office to a Canadian lineup that includes Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa and Calgary as a result of tie-ups with the former Ogilvy Renault LLP in June 2011 and Macleod Dixon LLP in January 2012. It also helps leverage the firm into the Pacific Rim market.

This should satiate Norton Rose Fulbright’s hunger for major Canadian corporate commercial firms for the next while, although it might not stop them from snacking on tightly-focused legal practices.

Which is exactly what DLA Piper did on September 20, 2016 by announcing the intake of the 16-lawyer intellectual property firm of Dimock Stratton LLP that will take effect November 2016. This, after chasing what seemed like every big Canadian law firm fish and finally inhaling Vancouver-based Davis LLP in April 2015.

Dimock Stratton is not the first Canadian boutique legal practice to be gobbled up by a global law firm whale.

In September 2011, international insurance law boutique U.K.-based Clyde & Co., merged with Canadian insurance law firm Nicholl Paskell-Mede LLP and in August 2015, global employment and labour firm, Littler Mendelson PC, acquired Toronto-based E&L boutique, Kuretzky Vassos Henderson LLP.

Law firms ranging from big to boutique are not immune to the feeding habits of the legal world’s global whales.

What has happened before is apt to happen again.

And when global law firm whales become hungry once more, they’ll return to what they know to be good feeding grounds.

Heather Suttie is acknowledged as one of the world’s leading authorities on legal market strategy and management of legal services firms.

For 25 years, she has advised leaders of premier law firms and legal service providers worldwide — Global to Solo | BigLaw to NewLaw — on innovative strategies pertaining to business, markets, management, and clients.

The result is accelerated performance achieved through a distinctive one of one legal market position and sustained competitive advantage leading to greater market share, revenue, and profits.

The effect is accomplishment of the prime objective — To Win.

Reach her at +1.416.964.9607 or

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