The Birmingham office of law firm DLA Piper – the biggest firm to have a presence in the city – has appointed two new partners as it expands its commercial law department.
Public procurement law specialist and national head of regulated procurement Steven Norris and Paul Kirkby (finance and projects) stepped up to partner level at the international law firm, which has its Birmingham office in Victoria Square.
The firm has been hit by the economic downturn recently. It cut 40 fee-earners last summer across its Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds offices, and announced a further 40 job losses just before Christmas, which it said could take in the Birmingham office.
But it has just promoted 53 lawyers to partnership for 2009 across 67 offices worldwide as it tries to improve its skill base.
Chris Rawstron, managing partner in the Birmingham office, said: “Recognising and rewarding outstanding talent is essential to maintaining the best teams and advice that our clients expect from DLA Piper. These appointments will help ensure we continue to shape the future of commercial law across the globe.
“Promotion to partner is recognition of their tremendous contributions. I am delighted for both Steven and Paul.”
Francis B Burch, Jr, the chairman of DLA Piper, added: “We are proud to welcome our new class of partners, whose practices cover a broad spectrum of key sectors and strategic markets where we do business.”
Mr Norris has been ranked top in the UK for public procurement law in both the 2008 and 2009 editions of the Chambers Directory.
His previous clients include a number of central government departments and he is also advising the Olympic Delivery Authority on procurement issues for the 2012 London Games.
He was heavily involved in Transport for London’s traffic congestion charging scheme, the Department of Health’s National Programme for IT, and the HM Revenue & Customs Lorry Road User Charge project.
He joined DLA Piper in Birmingham in January 1999.
Mr Kirkby specialises in international and domestic joint ventures, and consortium relationships, together with all forms of outsourcing.
From 2001 to 2005 he was in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates where he advised on an electrical inter-connector project, the privatisation of the Ministry of Defence technical college in Oman, and a development in Qatar to create a large island off the coast for leisure and housing purposes.
Now in Brussels on a six-month secondment to giant French utility giant GDF Suez, a DLA Piper client, he will transfer in the spring to Muscat, the capital of Oman.
He said: “I generally advise in sectors such as infrastructure, energy, joint ventures and general commercial work.
“Oman is still quite buoyant and was recently voted one of the ten least likely countries to be affected by the global recession.”
In the UK he also acted on the re-opening and operation of the Hatfield Colliery in Doncaster.
Mr Kirkby joined DLA Piper in 2005, having started his career at Birmingham firm Wragge & Co.