DLA Piper vice chair takes up strategic role amid US leadership shake up

US head Frank Ryan ushers in latest reshuffle including new position of Advisor to the Chair

DLA Piper has shaken up its US leadership team by handing vice chair Joe Alexander a new position as Advisor to the Chair.

In his new role, Miami-based Alexander, who led the transactions team as vice chair and also sits on DLA Piper's global board, will advise Americas chair Frank Ryan on the firm’s financial performance, competitive position and strategic priorities.

Alexander joined DLA Piper in 2008 form Hunton & Williams and has held a number of senior positions at the firm, including global and US co-chair of the corporate and private equity practices and Southwest US managing partner. 

Earlier this year, he was on hand to welcome the arrival of a team of more than 25 private equity lawyers in Chicago from Honigman and his new role looks set to put him in a strong position to help shape the firm's strategy.

His appointment represents a further beefing up of the firm's leadership team under Ryan, who took over from Americas co-chairs Jay Rains and Roger Meltzer at the start of 2021 and created a new 11-strong management team to help him run the firm in March of that year.

As well as being the firm's Americas chair, Ryan is also global co-chair and co-CEO alongside the leaders of the firm's international LLP, UK-based co-chair John Hayes, who took up the role on 1 May, and co-CEO Simon Levine, who had his term extended by two years in February last year.

Alexander's appointment has sparked a wider reshuffle of the US leadership team with Austin-based John Gilluly replacing him as vice chair, transactions, a role that hands him oversight of the firm’s corporate, finance, private equity, real estate and tax practices.

Gilluly was previously managing partner of the Americas and that brief overseeing DLA's crossborder work and relationships has now been added to US co-managing partner Richard Chesley's remit.

Among a number of other appointments, three lawyers – Ilana Eisenstein, David Parrish and Edward Smith – have been made members of the firm’s US executive committee. 

Eisenstein co-chairs the firm's appellate advocacy practice and is also a member of DLA Piper’s policy committee. She is a former assistant to the Solicitor General and a former federal prosecutor with extensive appellate experience, including before the US Supreme Court.

Parrish, meanwhile, focuses on alternative investments, including fund formation and investment matters. He represents domestic and foreign investors.

Smith, chair of the firm’s regulatory and government affairs practice, is a former Federal Communications Commission official who focuses his practice on telecommunications matters, advising clients on issues in the wireless and satellite sectors.

A further appointment sees the head of DLA Piper’s investment management and real estate capital markets practice, Jesse Criz, become a member of the firm’s US management team. Criz has more than 20 years' experience in taxation, corporate law and vehicle formation and also serves on the firm’s US executive committee.

“This incoming group of leaders are highly respected and well-regarded, both within our firm and the industries and sectors in which they practice,” said Ryan. “I look forward to the contributions they’ll make towards the continued growth of our firm.”

The leadership changes follow reports earlier this year that DLA Piper is considering plans for a full merger between its US and international arms, which currently share the same board but operate independently using a Swiss Verein structure. 

The two partnerships have separate profit pools and management structures.

DLA Piper's US arm has also announced a raft of changes to its US offices and practice group leadership teams.

Trent Dykes will take on the role of office managing partner for Seattle, while Cara Edwards will assume the role of office managing partner for New York. Peter Alfano will join Edwards as deputy office managing partner.

Eisenstein will also become the new leader of litigation, effective at year-end, and Richard Hans will become managing partner of vertical operations-disputes.

In terms of practice area, Sean Cunningham will become the new leader of US intellectual property and technology (IPT), as well as global co-chair of the IPT practice. Marc Katz will become the new leader of US employment and Andrew Gilbert will become head of US corporate.

Alison Maxwell is set to head the firm’s US tax team and will remain the leader of the international corporate reorganisation sub-group. Matt Schwartz will become the new leader of US finance and will remain the leader of the venture and growth sub-group.

Tamar Duvdevani will become the new leader of the US trademark, copyright and media sub-practice, while Erin Gibson and Trent Dykes will head the global and US technology sector.

Richard Reilly will join Isabelle Ord and Margo Tank in leading the US financial services sector and Aidan McCormack will lead the global and US insurance sector. Tom Ara will become the global and US co-leader of the media, sport and entertainment sector, while Alexandre Bittencourt Calmon will assume the role of global leader of the energy sector to help further integrate Latin America.

Finally, Sang Kim will become the new chair of the firm’s US/Asia initiative and, together with Chesley, will serve on the firm’s Asia committee, while Ehab Elsonbaty is set to chair the US/Middle East initiative.

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