Sir Nigel Knowles is global co-chief executive officer of DLA Piper. He has been managing partner since 1996 and in that time has led its growth from a regional UK law firm to what is now the world's largest law firm. Globally, DLA Piper has a turnover in excess of £1bn.
Sir Nigel Knowles joined the Yorkshire firm, Broomheads, as a trainee in 1978 and was admitted to partnership in 1984, specialising in corporate finance, private equity and mergers and acquisitions. He quickly moved into the management sphere and in 1990 was appointed head of the commercial group at Dibb Lupton Broomhead (following the merger of Broomheads and Dibb Lupton which took place in 1988). Sir Nigel's career quickly accelerated from there and he was appointed to the board and the role of deputy managing partner in 1995, finally becoming managing partner in 1996.
Since that time, Sir Nigel has led the practice through a host of successful mergers. From a largely UK presence the firm has expanded into Continental Europe, Asia and the Middle East. DLA Piper continues to retain a strong regional presence in the UK with a total of eight offices. The Continental European practice has expanded rapidly and now has offices in Austria, Belgium, Central & Eastern Europe and the CIS, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. The Asian practice has grown steadily since opening in Hong Kong in 1988 and now includes offices in Bangkok, Beijing, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo. In 2006 DLA Piper's first Middle East office opened, in Dubai, and was swiftly joined by offices in Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Perhaps most notably, in January 2005, Sir Nigel was instrumental in the single largest transatlantic law merger in recent history when DLA integrated with US-based firms Piper Rudnick and Gray Cary Ware & Freidenrich LLP. In the same year Sir Nigel was named Partner of the Year by Legal Week and DLA Piper was named Global Law Firm of the Year at The Lawyer Awards and Law Firm of the Year at the Legal Business Awards.
Sir Nigel is passionate about developing DLA Piper's reputation for providing high-quality legal advice across jurisdictions and in doing this has also consistently improved year-on-year financial performance. The firm has always delivered against its vision and the major goals it has set itself and Sir Nigel now enjoys working ever more closely with his US colleagues to deliver their joint global objectives.
Sir Nigel was appointed chairman and non-executive director for Blenheim Capital Services Limited in 2010.
DLA Piper's reputation in the field of addressing the broader responsible business agenda is increasingly an important part of Sir Nigel Knowles' ambition for the firm. In 2008 he was appointed chairman of the Legal Sector Alliance, a collaboration of law firms committed to tackling climate change which emerged from HRH the Prince of Wales' May Day Business Summit on the subject. He is also a member of Business in the Community's Environmental Leadership team and of the Steering Committee of The Prince of Wales Rainforest initiative.
Sir Nigel was appointed chairman of the Managing Partners' Forum in 2004 and has played a key role in the development of the Forum from a London based network to a global player campaigning on behalf of management in the professions.
Sir Nigel is a fellow of Harris Manchester College, University of Oxford.
Sir Nigel is fifty-four years old and married with three children. He is a graduate of Sheffield University.
'Partner' refers to a member of DLA Piper UK LLP