|"Ted Segal Explains His Move from DLA Piper"
January 28, 2011
DLA Piper announced a deal on Thursday to become the largest law firm in the world by merging with an Australian business partner, but the firm shrunk by at least one D.C. partner this week.
Ted Segal, who first came to predecessor firm Piper & Marbury in 1985 and held several leadership positions at DLA Piper in the last decade, announced Wednesday that he jumped ship to regional firm Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young LLP. There, he becomes chair of its mergers and acquisitions practice group.
Segal said his move was entirely in response to clients' concerns about costs versus value. "It's not just rates," Segal said. "It's a constellation of value propositions that include continuity of staffing, some flexibility in terms of how rates get orchestrated, and on the price point. They began to connect the rates, the overhead, what resources we're primarily utilizing and what resources they're underwriting through their legal fees, and they just began to see and articulate a mismatch."
The complaints started up in 2009, in the depths of the recession, and today at Stradley Ronon, he said his hourly rate has fallen by $200 an hour — or about 25 percent to 30 percent. Segal said not all of his clients are shifting all of their work from DLA Piper to Stradley Ronon; they'll keep certain matters at the old firm.
The Thursday deal, in which DLA Piper will formally merge with DLA Phillips Fox of Australia later this year, is the latest in a string of international law firm mergers (Hogan Lovells LLP is one such merged firm) that would seem to indicate a consolidation trend.
But Segal said he's proof that there are plenty of good reasons for the legal market to become more, not less, diffuse, because of value and clients' demands for lower rates and access to top partners. "In my experience, the reverse is happening," Segal said. Segal's practice focuses on $20 million to $1 billion mergers and acquisitions, equity financing, venture capital transactions, joint ventures and corporate restructurings.