DLA Piper nabs more than 25 deal lawyers from Honigman in Chicago

Latest big team move in the US sees international firm add significant middle market private equity strength
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DLA Piper has secured a team of more than 25 private equity lawyers in Chicago from Honigman, marking the latest instance of a major law firm hiring a sizeable group from a smaller rival.  

The team is led by former Honigman partners Harris Eisenberg, Alex Plakas, Nathan Wilda and Drew Rosenberry, who specialise in middle market private equity deals, an area in which DLA Piper is one of the most active law firms. 

DLA Piper’s US vice chairman, Joe Alexander, said private equity was a primary part of the firm’s strategic plan for growth and that middle market private equity represents “a tremendous opportunity” for the firm. 

“Our focus is to continue growing our PE practice in Chicago, other major markets in the US and around the world. This group, led by Harris and Alex, exemplifies what we’re looking for: top-notch practitioners who are difference makers in major markets,” he said. 

Joseph Silver, global co-chair of DLA Piper’s private equity practice, added that the firm targeted the Honigman group for their experience handling private equity matters in the healthcare and technology sectors. 

Eisenberg and Plakas, who spent a combined decade as partners at Honigman, served as the firm’s Chicago managing partner and co-leader of its private equity practice. Prior to joining the Detroit-based firm, Eisenberg worked as a partner at Katten Muchin Rosenman, while Plakas was a corporate partner at Chicago giant Kirkland & Ellis, according to their Linkedin profiles. 

Honigman has turned to real estate partner Kristen Boike to lead its Chicago office as managing partner following the team's move.  

“We will have departures just like we will have arrivals. In today’s highly competitive environment, it is simply the nature of the beast for the legal industry,” the firm said, adding that Honigman was a “healthy, profitable law firm that provides a strong platform for our partners and associates to practice law and grow their business.” 

The team joining DLA Piper from Honigman, which has around 270 lawyers, underscores the pressure smaller firms are facing from their larger rivals, many of which have seen marked growth over the past few years. Another instance of a sizeable group moving over to a big firm came earlier this month, when Norton Rose Fulbright hired an 11-strong litigation team from boutique trial firm Blackwell Burke in Minneapolis. 

And Paul Hastings closed out March by poaching the bulk of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan’s restructuring team in Chicago. The mass hire, which included 18 partners, promised to catapult the Los Angeles-based firm’s restructuring team up the rankings and easily doubled its headcount to more than 70 lawyers. 

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