The Firms

November 30, 2010 11:38 AM

Hong Kong No: Hammonds Office Rejects Squire Sanders Merger

Posted by Brian Baxter

Less than a month after partners at Hammonds and Squire, Sanders & Dempsey approved their transatlantic merger, the Hong Kong office of the British firm is pulling out of the proposed union scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2011.

The six-partner office has told Hammonds' management that it will separate from the newly merged firm, according to U.K. legal publication Legal Week. At the moment, it's still unclear whether the partners from Hammonds' Hong Kong operations will try and form a standalone firm or seek to join another firm entirely, Legal Week reports.

When Squire Sanders and Hammonds announced the merger talks in August, the two firms stressed the importance of creating a truly global firm. Hong Kong was one of the four cities where both firms have an office overlap. Squire Sanders chairman James Maiwurm, who will become global chair and CEO of the combined firm, told The Am Law Daily earlier this month that Hong Kong was the only remaining location where integration issues had yet to be resolved because of space limitations in each of the firm's offices.

Hammonds managing partner Peter Crossley, who will become the new firm's managing partner for Europe, told The Am Law Daily that the newly merged firm was focused on expanding its operations in Asia and was looking forward to doubling its size in Hong Kong with the merger.

But as a result of Hammonds's Hong Kong office rejecting its soon-to-be former parent, the new Squire Sanders Hammonds firm's local operations will be comprised solely of Squire Sanders's four-partner, 11-lawyer office, Legal Week reports. In a joint statement, the two firms wished their Hammonds Hong Kong colleagues well, but emphasized the strength of their union.

"As is common with large law firm combinations, even in circumstances such as ours where the vast majority of the voting partnership approved the combination, a small handful of partners in Hong Kong have taken the view that they do not want to be part of a fully integrated global firm with established offices throughout China and have decided to leave," the two firms said to Legal Week. "Regardless of this, the merger has significantly strengthened our ability to serve clients across the globe, and the collective energy of our two legacy firms is focused on the successful integration across our platform, including Asia."

The new firm will be called Squire Sanders Hammonds in most places, but will remain called Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in places where Hammonds does not have a presence.

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