Michael Poulos, co-managing partner of the Americas at DLA Piper, will depart the firm’s Chicago office and join McDermott, Will & Emery, according to three sources familiar with the matter. Poulos, who two sources said is one of DLA Piper’s top billers with a book of business in the $30 million range, will move with a group of about six other partners.
A senior litigator who was named co-managing partner in 2013 alongside Anastasia “Stasia” Kelly in New York, Poulos said he could not comment on the pending move when reached on the phone by The American Lawyer on Wednesday. A DLA Piper spokesman did not immediately return a phone call requesting comment, nor did leaders at McDermott.
One other DLA Piper partner who is said to also be moving to McDermott is Michael Sheehan, who currently co-chairs the firm’s global employment practice and chairs DLA Piper’s U.S. employment practice. The Chicago-based Sheehan did not return a request for comment.
Poulos, whose designation as co-managing partner of the Americas has been scrubbed from DLA Piper’s website, has represented accounting giant BDO Global in a wide range of matters over the years. In various pieces of litigation, he’s also represented television titan Comcast Corp., food industry behemoth Nestlé SA and insurance giant American International Group Inc. (AIG). Stasia Kelly, a former general counsel at AIG, is now listed as DLA Piper’s sole managing partner for the Americas.
In November, DLA Piper’s senior partner and global co-chair Juan Picon left the firm for Latham. A London-based partner, Andrew Darwin, won an election in February to replace Picon as a leader of DLA Piper’s non-U.S. business.
The firm’s U.S. business is still largely run by two co-chairs of the Americas: Roger Meltzer, who is global co-chair of DLA Piper, and Cameron “Jay” Rains, who also serves as global co-CEO of the 4,200-lawyer firm. Both Rains and Meltzer made the move into management in 2010. Meltzer, who joined DLA Piper in 2007, took over the global co-chair role in 2015.
In Chicago, Poulos has been a partner at DLA Piper for 21 years, dating back to when the firm was known as Rudnick & Wolfe. That firm was chaired by Chicago-based DLA Piper partner and current chair emeritus Lee Miller, who became co-chair of Piper Marbury Rudnick & Wolfe following the 1999 merger between the firm and Baltimore-based Piper & Marbury. In 2004, the combined firm inked another pair of deals with London-based DLA and San Diego-based Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich to become DLA Piper.
As a member of DLA Piper’s global board and U.S. executive committee, Miller went on to be a leader of the firm’s broader global expansion in the past couple decades. He is now in the midst of another transition.
In January, Miller took on a role as a board member and co-head of the management and investment committees at Chicago-based Abundant Venture Partners, a startup incubator focused on creating companies that “improve the human condition.”
DLA Piper has been busy on the expansion front in 2018, picking up lateral partners in several different cities, as well as agreeing to absorb 60-lawyer Chilean firm Noguera, Larraín & Dulanto.