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December 4, 2008 12:56 PM

K&L Gates, Bell Boyd Consider Merger

Posted by Nate Raymond

K&L Gates and Chicago's Bell, Boyd & Lloyd announced today they are discussing a possible merger.

The merger--if approved, it's expected to occur in the first three months of 2009--would create a 2,000-lawyer firm with 30 offices in the United States, Europe, and Asia.

"We believe that K&L Gates and Bell Boyd share an appreciation for the communities in which we reside, a passion for the practice of law, and an enthusiasm for the growing global market for legal services," K&L Gates chairman Peter Kalis and Bell Boyd chairman John McCarthy said in a statement released today. "Together, we believe that we will be in an unsurpassed position to deliver value to clients and to compete in the market for talent."

In an interview with the National Law Journal, an Am Law Daily sibling publication, Kalis said Bell Boyd's intellectual property and investment management practices made the firm an especially good fit with his own.

The move continues K&L Gates's expansion push, coming a little more than five months after the firm's merger with Charlotte's Kennedy Covington Lobdell & Hickman. In January, K&L Gates merged with 175-lawyer Dallas firm Hughes & Luce. K&L Gates itself grew out of a January 2007 merger between Pittsburgh firm Kirkpatrick & Lockhart and Seattle firm Preston Gates & Ellis.

One source connected to the Chicago legal market told the NLJ  that when K&L Gates announces it is in talks with a firm, that generally means the deal is all but done.

This source described Bell Boyd as a firm "on the decline" and wrong-sized at about 250 lawyers, but said  the intellectual property and investment management practices remain strong.

In 2007, K&L Gates had revenues of $755 million and profits per equity partner of $800,000. Bell Boyd had $129 million in revenue and profits per partner of $695,000.

(Correction: An earlier version of this story reported revenue and profit figures from 2006 instead of 2007.)

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