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Exchange • Winter 2013 > Industry Trends > Law Firm Cross-Border Mergers on the Rise

Law Firm Cross-Border Mergers on the Rise

Experts expect this mega-merger trend to continue into 2013

Experts are seeing a trend in which more law firms are pursuing cross-border mergers to create mega firms comprising of thousands of lawyers. The Wall Street Journal reported that in the past couple of months, there have been three deals that will create huge firms with up to 3,800 lawyers. One of these firms is U.K. based Norton Rose and Houston Texas firm Fulbright & Jaworski who announced 2012’s biggest international merger in mid-November. The new firm, which will be known as Norton Rose Fulbright when the merger is complete on June 1, 2013, is one of the world’s largest comprising of 3,800 lawyers and 55 offices.

K&L Gates also announced that it would merge with Australian law firm Middletons. The combined firm will feature more than 2,000 lawyers in 46 offices worldwide and will retain the K&L Gates name and reflects an uptick in Australian mergers. Other mergers include China’s top law firm King & Wood who merged with Australia’s top law firm Mallesons Stephen Jaques and U.K. based Herbert Smith who merged with the Australian firm Freehills. Another cross-border mega-deal was SNR Denton who announced a three-way merger with European firm Salans and Canada’s Fraser Milner Casgrain. The combined firm will be called Dentons and the deal will be complete in March 2013.

Experts say the mega-merger trend is expected to continue into 2013. They say that although past deals involved U.S. and U.K. firms merging with other firms in major financial centers, such as London or Hong Kong, the latest deals have seen global firms pursuing partners across the globe.


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