DLA's Canada Play Falls Through, For Now

, The Am Law Daily

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Toronto's Bay Adelaide Centre, home of Heenan Blaikie

Heenan, who is poised to take an of counsel role with Vancouver-based Heenan Blaikie spinoff Gall, Legg, Grant & Munroe, also told The Toronto Star that the firm he cofounded had a book of business last year of roughly $201 million—a figure converted from Canadian to U.S. dollars—with a profit of about $67.8 million. The firm’s December billings were a record-setting $31.7 million, Heenan told the newspaper. (The Star reported last week that Heenan Blaikie partners took home between $226,000 and $1.4 million per year.)

In the end, it was dollars and cents—Canadian and U.S.—that pushed DLA and Heenan Blaikie apart.

“Knowing Heenan Blaikie as a friend and client, I know they’ve wanted to salvage as many [lawyers and staffers] as they could,” says Adam Lepofsky, founder and president of Toronto-based legal recruiting and placement firm the RainMaker Group. “Both sides needed to find a number that made sense, so this is purely an economic decision.”

Meltzer, who is poised to assume coleadership of DLA in 2015, told The Am Law Daily last week that his firm was keen on expanding into Canada so it could stop referring work to Canadian firms that it could keep for itself if it had offices in the country. It’s unclear whether DLA’s current partners—and their clients—are comfortable with seeing those referrals go from top-tier Canadian firms to talent recruited from a more mid-tier shop like Heenan Blaikie, according to a trio of sources familiar with the matter.

Heenan Blaikie partners in talks about joining DLA would have become part of a DLA Canada, Meltzer said last week. How those lawyers and any staffers coming with them would be integrated into DLA’s Swiss verein structure—the firm has both U.S. and international arms—was something being worked out in the now-stalled negotiations.

The Am Law Daily reported last week that 4,000-lawyer DLA, which after absorbing an Australian affiliate back in 2011 became the world's largest firm by attorney head count, has been busy in recent years restructuring its operations Down Under and in the United Kingdom in order to make its international LLP more profitable.

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