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Law firm giant DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary has marched into Atlanta by leasing 46,000 square feet of space to accommodate an office expected to have 50 attorneys by the year’s end. The 3,159-lawyer firm is opening the Atlanta location with 12 litigation and finance attorneys, including three partners from Hunton & Williams of Richmond, Va., and another partner from Jones Day. The firm anticipates adding 13 more lawyers by June. The move enables DLA Piper to stake a claim in what it sees as the last remaining city needed to complete its national presence. The law firm now has 19 domestic offices. “This is the last piece of the puzzle,” said Frank Burch, joint chief executive officer of DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary. Managing partner of the Atlanta office is Mark Grantham, previously with Hunton & Williams. Grantham said he decided to move to DLA Piper because of the larger global platform that the firm offers. Consolidation, as in the accounting industry, is inevitable among law firms, he said. “We’re headed toward a big 25 or 30,” he said. Also joining DLA Piper as partners from Hunton & Williams are Russell Bogue and Arthur Brannan. They bring six associates with them. Tracy Plott comes aboard as a partner from Jones Day, as do two associates. Three paralegals will also work from the new office. Located on two floors of One Atlantic Center in midtown Atlanta, the office initially will handle work related to financial services, real estate investment trusts (REITs) and consumer products. As it adds more lawyers, it plans to expand into the areas of litigation, corporate and securities work, bankruptcy and franchise law. Atlanta is home to nearly 30 Fortune 1,000 companies. DLA Piper has rapidly ballooned into the second-largest law firm in the nation, according to The National Law Journal‘s 2005 survey of the nation’s 250 largest law firms. Its growth sprang from Piper Rudnick’s merger in 2004 with Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich, followed a few months later by another merger with London-based DLA. The firm has talked to 36 attorneys working at nine firms in the Atlanta area about joining the new office, said John Cusack, head of DLA Piper’s finance practice group. He helped spearhead opening the Atlanta location. “Certain lawyers are looking for a national platform and a global platform,” he said. “We have something to offer.” Other firms with large offices in Atlanta include King & Spalding, Alston & Bird, Troutman Saunders and Kilpatrick Stockton. DLA Piper’s move into Atlanta indicates an evolution in the legal market there, said Joel Henning, a vice president with Hildebrandt International, a law firm consultancy. “If you want to be a national player and have a convincing presence, you need to be in Atlanta,” he said.

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