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June 27, 2011 6:24 PM

British Firm Opens in Toronto, Montreal After Acquiring Canadian Boutique

Posted by Brian Baxter

There is indeed something about Canada, and British firm Clyde & Co has become the latest to venture north of the border. On Monday, the 700-lawyer firm announced a merger with Canadian insurance boutique Nicholl Paskell-Mede (NPM).

NPM's 40 lawyers, 15 of them partners, will be officially absorbed into Clyde once the merger becomes effective on September 1, according to U.K. publication Legal Week. The merger gives Clyde its first foothold in Canada, as the British firm will pick up offices in Toronto and NPM's home base in Montreal.

Founded in 1992, NPM was in merger talks with Clyde for the past several months, according to our previous reports. The merger with NPM comes in the midst of Clyde's talks over a potential tie-up with British insurance rival Barlow Lyde & Gilbert. Should that merger materialize, it would create a 1,000-lawyer firm with more than $480 million in annual gross revenue, Legal Week reported earlier this month.

Clyde partner James Burns in London has been tasked with heading up the integration efforts with NPM, Legal Week reports.

"Canada is an extremely attractive market with a robust and diversified economy," Burns said in a statement announcing the merger between the two firms. "NPM, as a top-rated Canadian insurance firm with existing work for Lloyd's of London syndicates, is a natural fit for Clyde & Co."

Legal Week reports that Clyde retained W. David Angus, a former senior partner at Canadian firm Stikeman Elliott, earlier this year to help the firm with its Canadian expansion plans.

The merger with NPM marks another step by Clyde, known for its insurance and reinsurance work, toward further expansion in North America.

The firm opened offices in New York and Los Angeles five years ago, hiring four partners from U.S. firm Condon & Forsyth. Clyde bolstered its U.S. presence by hiring insurance litigation partner Michael Knoerzer from LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae in November 2007, and opening an office in Roseland, N.J., last year with five insurance lawyers from Connell Foley. Last March, the firm took on insurance partners from Cozen O'Connor and O'Melveny & Myers.

Interest in the Canadian legal market has been high over the past year. British firm Norton Rose announced a merger late last year with Canadian firm Ogilvy Renault that became effective earlier this month. In January, Dickinson Wright picked up 25-lawyer Toronto firm Aylesworth, which was followed a few months later by Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison opening a Toronto office with two local hires from Shearman & Sterling. DLA Piper has also expressed an interest in a Canadian merger partner.

Clyde's Canada play isn't the only potential merger on the horizon for a British firm. As we reported last week, several firms in the U.K. are actively engaged in talks about combining operations with rivals.

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