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The Big Picture San Diego Blog

Investor Spotlight: DLA Piper

March 17, 2015


Qualcomm. ThermoFisher (formerly Life Technologies).  BD BioSciences  (formerly CareFusion). These are some of San Diego’s most globally-recognized companies. They create products and innovations that are changing the world. But that’s not the only thing they have in common: each of these companies has also worked with DLA Piper – one of San Diego’s most recognized law firms. Although DLA Piper represents companies from a variety of industries, they focus on serving San Diego’s dynamic high tech and life sciences sectors.
This week we spoke with Robert Brownlie, managing partner in DLA Piper San Diego, to learn more about how they interact with some of San Diego’s most prominent companies and are helping to cement the region’s global identity. 
1) Tell us about DLA Piper.
DLA Piper LLP (US) is a global law firm with deep San Diego roots.  In 2005, San Diego’s Gray, Cary, Ames & Frye combined with the US firm Piper Rudnick and the international firm DLA to create DLA Piper.  
Our history in San Diego dates back to 1927 with the establishment of Gray Cary by Gordon Gray (a cousin of President Woodrow Wilson) and Judge William Cary.  The firm quickly grew into San Diego’s largest, with a heavy emphasis on litigation and a client list including both leading San Diego-headquartered companies and Fortune 500 companies.  Throughout our history, our lawyers have made a significant impact on San Diego – from Gordon Gray’s work in the founding of the San Diego Zoological Society to Jay Rains’ efforts in bringing the US Open to Torrey Pines.
Today, we represent a wide range of San Diego companies, including promising startups and the region’s largest companies in multi-national deals and cases.
2) What are some advantages to doing business in San Diego?
Why DLA Piper Chose San Diego with quote San Diego’s location and entrepreneurial spirit provide major advantages for our practice in San Diego.  For a global law firm, San Diego provides a strategic location at the crossroads for the Pacific Rim where US businesses and investors can come together with businesses and investors from Asia, Latin American and Europe.  We have been able to assist San Diego companies with transactions all over the globe.
Economic growth is as vital to law firms as it is to any other aspect of the economy.  San Diego’s entrepreneurial spirit, fed by institutions, like UC San Diego, and visionary business leaders, provide a strong engine for economic growth to compete with other markets.  We are fortunate to be positioned to assist with that growth by advising the region’s entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial companies.
3) San Diego is full of dynamic companies, firms and service providers influencing global trends and innovation. Pick another San Diego company that is at the top of its game. 
Qualcomm has made itself into a global leader in wireless communications.  Through constant innovation, Qualcomm has managed to stay on top.  It has done this through terrific leadership and a commitment to hiring and retaining the most talented individuals.  It has also redefined itself seamlessly as wireless technology and the industry has evolved.  Few companies anywhere have been as influential or innovative as Qualcomm.
4) What do you anticipate for your company in five years? What do you anticipate for San Diego? 
Since DLA Piper was formed, it has grown into the world’s largest law firm, with 4,200 lawyers in offices throughout the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Middle East.   However, being big is not the goal.  Our goal is to continue to efficiently provide top quality legal services to innovative companies locally and around the globe.  The evolution of DLA’s San Diego offices are representative of that goal.  
For the San Diego region, we anticipate becoming more global and continuing to catalyze leading technology.  The mega-region represented by San Diego County, Imperial County, and northern Baja California is a competitive advantage to addressing the increasingly global and complex business needs of our companies in our region.  In addition to geography, our region will continue to lead in life sciences, wireless communications, data analytics, UAV’s, clean energy, and more.  If we continue to harness these advantages, San Diego can become one of the leading regions in the world over the next 5 years.