King & Wood Mallesons, SJ Berwin to create US$1 billion global firm

King & Wood Mallesons (“KWM”) and smaller UK-based SJ Berwin will merge to form a law firm with a combined revenue of about US$1.3 billion (HK$10 billion), which puts it among the biggest 25 firms in the world. The firms will merge on 1 November 2013, it was announced last week, and will be known as KWM after a transitional period. It will comprise more than 2,700 lawyers, including over 550 partners, in 30 offices.

KWM, with global revenues of roughly US$655 million, was formed in March 2012 through the merger of China’s King & Wood with Australia’s Mallesons Stephen Jaques. The acquisition of SJ Berwin extends Asian giant KWM’s reach into Europe and the Middle East, Reuters reported.

The deal follows a spate of other recent cross-border law firm mergers. In the wake of a severe recession that pushed more clients to cut back on legal fees and dried up legal work, firms tried to keep market share through mergers and acquisitions and by poaching partners from other law firms.

In June, US-based Fulbright & Jaworski merged with London's Norton Rose, creating Norton Rose Fulbright, with 3,800 lawyers around the globe. In April, US firm SNR Dentons, Canada's Fraser Milner Casgrain and Paris-based Salans completed an unusual three-way merger to form a 2,500-attorney firm.

- Hong Kong Lawyer and Reuters News