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May 1, 2008 2:33 PM

K&L Gates and Kennedy Covington in Merger Talks

Posted by Brian Baxter

Kirkpatrick & Lockhart Preston Gates Ellis and Charlotte firm Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman announced today that they are in merger discussions. If talks prove to be successful, the merger would be completed by July 1, said both firms in a statement.

K&L Gates ranked twenty-eighth in this year's Am Law 100, with gross revenues of $755 million. The 1,235-lawyer national firm had profits per partner of $800,000, with revenue per lawyer at roughly $610,000.

K&L Gates itself grew out of a January 2007 merger between Pittsburgh firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and Seattle firm Preston Gates & Ellis. This past January, K&L Gates merged with 175-lawyer Dallas firm Hughes & Luce, which also had offices in Austin and Fort Worth. The proposed merger with 175-lawyer Kennedy Covington, which has five offices throughout North and South Carolina, would create a 1,700-lawyer firm with 28 offices located in the U.S., Europe, and Asia.

"Charlotte is the second-largest financial center in the United States and both K&L Gates and Kennedy Covington have strong orientations toward servicing clients from the financial services industry," said K&L Gates chairman Peter Kalis and Kennedy Covington managing partner Eugene "Gene" Pridgen in a joint statement. "Both firms feature strong practices that would service the extraordinary growth in the corporate and life science sectors in the Raleigh and Research Triangle Park area of North Carolina."

Reached by phone in Austin, Kalis says, "Kennedy Covington—like Hughes & Luce—is a regional firm with a national reputation for doing matters of consequence for their clients."

Asked about K&L Gates's merger mania, Kalis says the firm's strategy is to "identify strategically significant parts of the global economy" and align itself with premier regional firms. The two firms began merger talks in late 2007, says Kalis, adding that all partners at Kennedy Covington will become partners of similar standing with K&L Gates should the merger be finalized.

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