DLA Piper is one of the largest law firms in the world with lawyers based in 40 countries around the globe. From Europe to the Americas, Middle East and Africa they provide business clients with a range of legal services.
Their clients tend to be major corporations or rapidly emerging industry leading technologies. On their site they currently say they provide services for multinational corporations in the Global 1000 and Fortune 500. This includes more than half of the Fortune 250 companies and almost half of FTSE 350 firms or their subsidiaries.
In addition they have been known to advise governments and public sector bodies.
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Headquarters: London, UK
No of Lawyers: ≈4200
Founded : 2005
A young law firm with a new history
The firm was formed in January 2005 by the coming together of three law firms: San Diego-based Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich LLP, Baltimore-based Piper Rudnick LLP and United Kingdom-based DLA LLP. Today it is comprised of two partnerships, the DLA Piper International LLP based in London and DLA Piper LLP working out of the US.
However, its true origins data back much further to the 19th century to Thomas Townend Dibb who is named as the founder of the firm in a bust in the company’s Leeds office.
However, it can trace its roots in Yorkshire even further to 1764 when a firm called Barnard & Bolland was established in Leeds. Thomas Dibb became a partner of Barnard & Bolland in 1829 and added his name. The abbreviation DLA the firm used back then continues to this day but it conceals a complex history involving changes of name and ownership. The L, for Lupton when it merged with Nelson Eddison & Lupton in 1920.
It carried on as Dibb Lupton & Co until it merged with Sheffield firm Broomheads in 1988. The firm theb became known as Dibb, Lupton Alsop after a link up with th firm Alsop Wilkinson in 1996, however the name was shortened to DLA in 2000.
Today it goes by the name of DLA Piper and is the fourth largest firm by capitalisation in the world.
The firm has worked on some of the biggest and most notable corporate cases, but in 2010 they ran into controversy in a case between Paul Ceglia and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
In the dispute Ceglia claimed he had hired Zuckerberg to create a site which became Facebook and that, under the terms of that agreement, he was entitled to an 84% ownership of the social media giant. Zuckerberg responded that Ceglia had hired him to work on an unrelated site but had fraudulently altered that contract to make it seem to cover Facebook.
DLA Piper represented Ceglia and, at the time, an attorney representing the firm told the Wall Street Journal that although he had not seen the original document he was ‘100% confident’ that the agreement was authentic.
It wasn’t. Ceglia’s document was indeed later found to be fraudulent and in 2014 Zuckerberg and Facebook sued DLA Piper and other parties claiming that they “knew or should have known that the [initial] lawsuit was a fraud.” The suit was later dismissed.