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BigLaw Firm in Chicago Shrinks After Merger

Posted Sep 17, 2012 7:04 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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K&L Gates in Chicago is losing lawyers since it created an outpost in the city through its acquisition of Bell Boyd & Lloyd.

K&L Gates acquired Bell Boyd & Lloyd in 2009 when it had 218 lawyers, Crain’s Chicago Business reports. The number of lawyers K&L Gates' Chicago office dropped to 170 in mid-2011 and 128 today.

According to the story, “Lawyers have bolted in groups, unhappy, they say, with stricter compensation policies, higher overhead or client conflicts under the new regime.”

Lawyers who spoke to the publication cited two developments spurring departures. The first: Curbs on pay cuts after the merger have now expired. The second: The firm announced in January that firmwide earnings last year would drop 13 percent to 14 percent.

K&L Gates chairman Peter Kalis told Crain’s that the outlook is improving. Chicago revenue this year is up 13 percent and will match 2008 revenue, he said. “Law firms, like other business enterprises, can achieve addition through subtraction,” he told the publication in an email.

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