Int’l law firms Berwin Leighton Paisner, Bryan Cave to merge

Partners at the UK law firm Berwin Leighton Paisner and Bryan Cave, a St Louis, Missouri-based firm, have voted to merge, with the newly-created joint entity officially launching in April.

The new firm will be called Bryan Cave Leighton Paisner – or BCLP, as it is already being referred to – and will have combined annual revenues of more than $900m, according to a joint statement released by both firms, and be comprised of around 1,600 lawyers working out of 32 offices across 11 countries.

The merger had been in the works since last October, according to published reports.

BLP’s current managing partner Lisa Mayhew (pictured right, above, with her future co-chair of BCLP, Bryan Cave’s Therese Pritchard, left), said the tie-up would be “different to most other international firms [mergers]” in that it would be “fully financially integrated from day one” – rather than keeping their finances separate in spite of the joint branding, as is said to be often done in similar merger situations. This, she added, would enable its partners and legal teams to focus exclusively on their client work.

As in many other industries, the global legal profession has seen significant consolidation in recent years. For firms in the international arena, mergers are particularly useful as a means of providing immediate access to other  markets, in which one’s clients may have business or personal interests, while also enabling the costs of maintaining numerous outposts to be more easily borne by the greater scale of the enterprise.

When the merger is finalised, the new BCLP will have 17 offices in the US; three in Germany; two in the UK, including London and Manchester; two in the UAE; two in mainland China, plus one in Hong Kong; and one each in Belgium, Russia, France, Israel, and Singapore.

Its clients will include 191 members of the Fortune 500; 30 of the world’s top 50 banks, as measured by revenue; and 12 of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds, according to the statement announcing the merger.

One Berwin Leighton Paisner outpost that won’t be part of the newly-formed joint law firm will be its Yangon, Myanmar office. In a statement, BLP explained that it was in the process of closing that office, following a strategic review that had been taken separately from the matter of the pending potential merger with Bryan Cave.

BLP said it had “monitored the situation for some time and concluded that the flow of locally generated business does not now justify maintaining a physical presence on the ground” in Myanmar.

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