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Cross-border law firm mergers are up

Experts expect mega-merger trend to continue into 2013

Experts are seeing a trend in which more law firms are pursuing cross-border mergers to create megafirms comprising thousands of lawyers. The Wall Street Journal reports that in the past couple months, there have been three deals that will create huge firms with up to 3,800 lawyers.

U.K.-based Norton Rose and Houston-based Fulbright & Jaworski 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, clocks in as one of the world’s largest, comprising 3,800 lawyers and 55 offices.

Earlier this month, K&L Gates 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. The deal is effective Jan. 1, 2013. It also reflects an uptick in Australian mergers. In March, China’s top law firm, King & Wood, merged with Australia’s top law firm, Mallesons Stephen Jaques. And in June, U.K.-based Herbert Smith merged with the Australian firm Freehills.

Another cross-border mega-deal made news in early December. SNR Denton 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.

Read more recent InsideCounsel stories about law firm mergers and expansions:

Pillsbury, Dickstein Shapiro in merger discussions K&L Gates, Kirkland make headlines

Through merger and practice group acquisition, two firms see growth

Baker & McKenzie becomes first U.S. law firm to open Peru office

Ashley Post

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