The top law firms in China and Australia, King & Wood and Mallesons Stephen Jaques, respectively, announced this morning that they will merge, effective March 1, 2012. The union will create what is expected to be one major, powerhouse firm for all of Asia Pacific.
Rebranded as King & Wood Malleson, the merger is being hailed as the first-ever alliance of a Chinese and Western law firm. The combined entity will employ more than 380 partners and 1,800 attorneys—making it the largest law firm in Asia, and the largest firm headquartered outside of the U.S. or U.K. The new firm will have 21 offices in five countries and will be headquartered in Hong Kong.
The firms say the deal is borne out of the desire to support clients who are seeking streamlined service to help them to realize the significant opportunities currently available in the Asia-Pacific marketplace, specifically with Asia’s rise as a global economic powerhouse.
“The combination of King & Wood and Mallesons creates a regional powerhouse for legal services with a shared vision to create a global law firm in Asia,” King & Wood Chairman Wang Junfeng, who will become chairman of the combined firm, said in a statement. “Our combined network will allow us to better support clients as they seek to take advantage of the opportunities in Asian markets. In particular, this combination offers an unrivalled platform to help international businesses within Mainland China and Chinese companies and investors as they ‘go out’ to global markets. ”
Additionally, Stuart Fuller, who will succeed Robert Milliner as Mallesons’ chief executive partner on Jan. 1 2012, echoed those sentiments.
“From day one, we will drive an integrated offer,” Fuller, who also will become the combined firm’s global managing partner, said in the statement. “With a common approach to clients, the markets in which we work and the services that we will offer, the combined firm will provide innovative business solutions and insight into the region’s key markets. We share common values, and our approach to who we recruit, and how we retain and nurture our talent is closely aligned. All in all, the combination of the two firms creates an outstanding opportunity for our clients, our people and our firms.”