The ongoing consolidation within the legal sector has gathered pace after one of Birmingham's top firms announced merger talks with an American company.
Hammonds LLP, which employs 169 people in Birmingham, is evaluating the possibility of a merger with Squire, Sanders & Dempsey LLP with the aim of creating a dynamic international law firm with expanded global reach.
If a merger were to proceed the combined firm would be among the top 50 global law firms with 37 offices located across 17 countries and approximately 1,300 lawyers. Combined revenues would top £405 million.
Hammonds managing partner Peter Crossley said both firms are focused on strategic geographic and practice growth to meet multinational clients’ desire to work with fewer law firms.
He said: “There is a trend towards corporate and commercial clients becoming more globalised and larger clients are looking for legal providers to offer services across all jurisdictions.
“I believe there are significant opportunities for a bigger and more global mid-market firm.” He said.
“As far as Squire Sanders, our geographic and practice strengths complement each other and there are opportunities to increase revenue.
“The difference between countries is breaking down, globalisation is a fact of life and economic and financial challenges we have been through have not changed that. We have to be in the best possible position.”
The firms’ leadership groups have identified similarities, including compatible client bases and culture.
Squire Sanders chair James Maiwurm said: “Squire Sanders is committed to being a global firm. We need a more complete presence in the UK and Western Europe to complement our strength in Central and Eastern Europe.
"Hammonds has a well-developed platform that would complement our presence in Europe, would add to our capabilities in Asia and would enhance Squire Sanders’ broad-based Latin America resources.”
The firms’ said more needs to be done before a partnership vote but if it were to get the go-ahead the merger could be complete before January 1.
Last month Hammonds announced per-partner profits had risen by nearly a third and its strong performance during the recession was matched by the large Birmingham office, which saw plenty of activity in the corporate sector, along with a number of high-profile appointments.
The last year has seen a huge change at the Birmingham office, not least from the completion of the massive £11m refurbishment project on the offices on Edmund Street.
In May, real estate partner Nick Green took over as head of the office, succeeding longstanding incumbent Ian Forrest.
The Birmingham office has also recruited three partners and promoted another three to partnership in the last year.
Mr Crossley added: “This is building on the back of where we have reached as a firm, it would be the next phase of our development in becoming a global firm. The fundamental question is can we be better as opposed to bigger and I am convinced we can.”